Will President Obama put human rights on the agenda during Saudi Arabia summit?

Amnesty International is calling on President Obama to make human rights a core part of his agenda this week in Saudi Arabia.

Obama-Salman-SaudiPresident Obama is meeting this week with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, along with the heads of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council:  Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, and Qatar.

Read our letter and press release.

Qatar, FIFA, and Labor Exploitation – My Senate Testimony

“… in the most extreme examples, foreign migrant workers have become suicidal after being trapped without pay by employers in Qatar. They have been forced to depend on charity from others simply to eat. Meanwhile, their family members in poor communities in their countries of origin can face eviction and other serious challenges…”

US Senate Testimony on Qatar Labor Exploitation by Sunjeev Bery
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

Hearing - 2015-07-15 - Qatar FIFA - Senate - Sunjeev Bery

“Examining the Governance and Integrity of International Soccer”
July 15, 2015
Verbal Remarks (PDF) / Written Testimony (PDF)Hearing Page / CSPAN Video

Media:  New York Times (1, 2), GuardianUSA TodayReutersBloombergVice NewsMcClatchy DC, Roll Call

Full Text of Verbal Remarks:

“Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Blumenthal, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, and distinguished guests: On behalf of Amnesty International, thank you for the opportunity to address the issue of human rights in Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has brought into global focus the shocking conditions that are routine for migrant workers in Qatar.

Under Qatar’s Kafala employment sponsorship system, foreign migrant workers cannot change employers or leave Qatar without the permission of their current employer. Even if an employer is not paying the employee, the employer can still block the employee from changing jobs or leaving the country.

In 2012, the Qatar National Research Fund funded a survey of some 1,000 low-income labor migrants: Continue reading

Sexual Violence: Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia.

What can be done to stop sexual violence against women in ‪Iraq‬ and ‪‎Syria‬?

This morning, I had the privilege of joining experts on a panel hosted by the American Red Cross, Physicians for Human Rights, and other key groups.

We focused on Iraq and Syria, and I also got into issues affecting women in ‪Saudi Arabia‬, ‪Qatar‬, and ‪North Africa‬.

Panel - 2014-11-06 - Sexual violence - Iraq and Syria - American Red Cross

Repressive U.S. allies in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the battle against “Islamic State”

On Thursday, I spoke with CCTV America about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other repressive governments reported to be supporting U.S. actions against the armed group calling itself “Islamic State.”

Click to watch.

Interview - CCTV - 2014-09-25 - US allies and ISIS

Quoted: MSNBC – “The World Cup disaster in Qatar”

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/why-the-world-cup-no-game

“Amnesty believes the U.S. can also take a more aggressive approach in demanding that a certain set of international standards be met.

“Members of Congress and the White House need to incorporate labor rights in [the U.S.’s] bilateral relationship with Qatar,” said Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty [International USA]’s Middle East and North Africa advocacy director, to msnbc. “Sporting events are frequently used as opportunities for host government to rebrand the country. It’s important that the 2022 World Cup not become a situation where massive human rights abuses are swept under the rug.”