Quoted: Bloomberg | “Obama Seeks to Reassure Saudi King on Iran Talks, Syria”

“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,” said Sunjeev Bery, Amnest International USA’s advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Bloomberg: Obama Seeks to Reassure Saudi King on Iran Talks, Syria

By Julianna Goldman and Mike Dorning | March 29, 2014

 

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.

Continue reading

Quoted: McClatchy News | “Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington”

McClatchy Washington Bureau:   Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington

By Lesley Clark | March 29, 2014

 

Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa, said the group was deeply disappointed that Obama didn’t raise human rights issues with the Saudi leader or speak about it publicly.

“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,” Bery said.

Amnesty noted that 70 members of Congress had urged Obama to bring up the “significant government repression” facing Saudis.

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:

Continue reading

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.

Saudi Arabia & Bahrain: 5 Members of Congress Urge President Obama to Push Saudi Officials to Support Reforms

U.S. Rep Hank Johnson and four other Members of Congress have written a letter to President Obama urging him to push Saudi Arabian officials to be “more constructive” regarding political reform in Bahrain.  The core sentence in the letter is the following:

Long-term stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through meaningful political reform, and we urge you to encourage the Saudi government to play a more constructive role in this regard.

Being “more constructive?”  That’s definitely an understatement. 

As my colleagues wrote in our April 2012 report, “Flawed Reforms Bahrain Fails To Achieve Justice For Protesters” (PDF): 

On 15 March 2011, Saudi Arabia sent at least 1,200 troops to Bahrain across the causeway linking the two states, reportedly at the request of the Bahraini government. The same day,the King of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency, known as the State of National Safety, and gave the security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain protesters and ban all protests.