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.
Over 50 Members of Congress have signed a letter to President Obama urging him to end business as usual with Saudi Arabia’s repressive government and stand up for human rights. For too long, the U.S. has prioritized politics and oil over basic freedom in its alliance with Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. The effort has been led by U.S. Representatives Trent Franks, Jim McGovern, Frank Wolf, and Jackie Speier.
The Franks-McGovern-Wolf-Speier congressional letter urges President Obama to:
- Seek a meeting with women activists in Saudi Arabia who are challenging the country’s ban on women drivers.
- Seek a meeting with family members of prominent peaceful human rights advocates who are imprisoned.
- Urge King Abdullah to make specific human rights reforms: religious freedom, lifting bans on freedom of association, ending torture, reforming laws that criminalize peaceful dissent, and stopping repression of women and religious minorities.
Diverse and noteworthy organizations are backing the effort — christian religious freedom organizations, US women’s rights groups, human rights advocates, and more:
Continue reading “Over 50 Members of Congress Urge President Obama to Stand Up for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia”