HRW: Dispatches: “Obama Refuses to Talk Human Rights in Saudi Arabia”

http://www.hrw.org/node/124305

March 31, 2014
By Adam Coogle
Human Rights Watch

US President Barack Obama left Riyadh on the afternoon of March 29 apparently without raising human rights issues during talks with Saudi officials. The trip came at a time when Saudi Arabia has scaled up its persecution of peaceful dissidents and human rights activists – including one who is expected to receive a long prison sentence next week; deported thousands of undocumented migrants who have been detained in terrible conditions; and continues its systematic discrimination against women.

Although billed as a “fence-mending” trip, it is hard not to wonder what it would take for Obama – or any senior US official – to shed some light on these pervasive abuses.

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After Saudi Arabia: White House Said No Talk of Human Rights (Transcript)

White House briefing post-Saudi trip, as quoted in San Francisco Chronicle blog:

Key part bolded/underlined.

From the White House briefing for press with senior administration officials on the President’s meeting with King Abdullah, March 28:

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Quoted: FoxNews.com | Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

FoxNews.com:   Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

Published March 28, 2014

Amnesty International is criticizing President Obama for not discussing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in either private meetings with King Abdullah or meetings with other Saudi officials.

A spokesman for the human rights group Sunjeev Bery said in a statement Friday that “human rights were missing in action” during Obama’s trip to the Middle Eastern nation.

He noted that 70 members of Congress urged the president to speak up about the many Saudis that are facing repression by their government, but Obama did not do so.

“The president’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries,” he said.

Al-Monitor: “Members press Obama to raise human rights in Saudi Arabia” (Article)

“This is the beginning of an expression of popular concern articulated through the US Congress about that relationship,” predicted Sunjeev Bery, the advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA. “The Saudi Arabian government’s repression is so bad across so many fronts that it has created an environment in Washington, DC, where multiple groups representing multiple communities are all pushing Congress at the same time.”

Article:  “Members press Obama to raise human rights in Saudi Arabia”

Julian Pecquet, March 25, 2014

 

My Comments to The Atlantic Monthly: On War Crimes in Syria

The Atlantic Monthly: “Are Women Being Targeted in Syria?”
Lauren Wolfe | Monday, December 10, 2012

“When Syrian armed forces have used indiscriminate air bombardment or artillery to attack civilian areas, these are war crimes,” said Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Full article here.

Syrian cyberwar rages on — ForeignPolicy.com

By Sulome Anderson | Foreign Policy

Monday, September 10, 2012

… Also in August, Amnesty International’s blog Livewire was targeted by another pro-Assad hacker group that accused the rebel army of committing massacres that have been linked to government forces. The attack, which was not claimed by any specific group of hackers, included a false blog post lamenting that “it is clear the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels are not going to stop their crimes. And with no accountability and a steady supply of weapons, why should they given they have come this far under NATO protection?”

Another one of the false posts was titled “Amnesty Calls on UN to stop the US, Qatar and Turkey funding and arming Syria Rebels,” and created the impression that Amnesty International was condemning NATO and the US for meddling in the Syrian civil war. Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s USA advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, explained the attack in an article published on the group’s website:

“It’s entirely possible that, given that we’ve been so forthright in criticizing the Syrian government for its crimes against humanity; that could conceivably make us the target of some kind of campaign.”

Full article here.

WaPo: “Amnesty International Web site hacked by supporters of Syrian government”

By James Ball
Washington Post
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Excerpt:

“Amnesty International has been very blunt in the reporting that we’ve done and the eyewitness accounts that we’ve collected in Syria,” said Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa. “It’s entirely possible that, given that we’ve been so forthright in criticizing the Syrian government for its crimes against humanity, that could conceivably make us the target of some kind of campaign.

Bery said Amnesty’s position on the civil war in Syria has been clear.

“We are deeply concerned both about the continuing crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian government through its forces as well as concerned by war crimes that have been committed both by the Syrian government armed forces and by some opposition forces,” he said.

Full article linked.