Spokespeople available for interview
As Saudi Arabia receives Barack Obama today, Amnesty International is urging the US President not to turn his back on victims of repression and human rights violations across the Gulf states.
In an open letter published ahead of Obama’s meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on 20 April and with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on 21 April, the organization has called on President Obama to ensure human rights abuses are not swept beneath the carpet.
“President Obama’s trip offers a crucial opportunity for him to demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights and prove to the world that the US government will not sacrifice human rights in favour of US geopolitical and business interests,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
President Obama’s trip offers a crucial opportunity for him to demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights and prove to the world that the US government will not sacrifice human rights in favour of US geopolitical and business interests.James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International
“This visit will be a key test of President Obama’s willingness to challenge GCC states over a catalogue of human rights violations including discrimination against women and minorities, arbitrary arrests and grossly unfair trials to stifle dissent in the name of national security, use of the death penalty, the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers and a growing intolerance of peaceful expression and the use of counter-terrorism and cyber-crime laws.
“Across the region, scores of political activists and human rights defenders have faced harassment, intimidation and unjust imprisonment.”
The open letter names more than 40 prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who are currently behind bars solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The visit also throws the spotlight on the USA’s own role in the recent conflict in Yemen, in which more than 3,000 civilians have been killed and more than 2.8 million people displaced.
“For the past year, the USA has stoked the flames of the conflict in Yemen by continuing to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia despite strong evidence that the military coalition it is leading has committed widespread violations including possible war crimes,” said James Lynch.
“Instead of pushing to secure further lucrative arms deals, the Obama administration should suspend all transfers of arms for use in Yemen and push for an international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.”
Key talking points:
- Growing crackdown on freedom of expression in GCC countries
- Violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen
- Unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment in detention
- Counter-terrorism and cyber-crime laws
- Discrimination against women and minorities across the region
- Abuse and exploitation of migrants