John Kiriakou / Reader Supported News & The Clarion Project – 2015-12-20 21:32:50
Saudi Arabia and the UN’s Human Rights Scandal
John Kiriakou / Reader Supported News
(December 11, 2015) — Saudi Arabia has completed its first three months as Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council. If anything exemplifies the irrelevance of the United Nations and the body’s seeming inability to put its collective foot down on human rights abuses around the world, it is having Saudi Arabia as the leader of the UN body that is supposed to protect those human rights around the world.
You remember Saudi Arabia. It’s the country in the Middle East with which the United States has had a “special relationship” since the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. It’s the country from which the US buys 17 percent of its oil.
It’s the country that intervened in May in Yemen’s civil war and has killed about 650 civilians per month ever since, all in the name of “combating Iran.” It’s the country that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were from. It’s also a country that has an absolutely dismal record of human rights abuses.
Indeed, the executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the performance of the United Nations, said of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Council chairmanship. “It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel.” He’s right.
In the past three months the Saudis have made no pretense of respecting human rights. On November 17, a Saudi court sentenced artist Ashraf Fayadh to death on charges of apostasy. His crime? He wrote a poem that the royal family didn’t like. And Fayadh’s case is the rule, rather than the exception.
The Saudis this year also have sentenced a 17-year-old to die by crucifixion for taking part in an anti-royal demonstration. They have sentenced a liberal blogger to a public flogging, which also often results in death; and a Saudi court gave a British senior citizen a sentence of 350 lashes for having a bottle of homemade wine in his car.
Congress has mandated that every year the State Department prepare a Human Rights Report on every country in the world. This document is supposed to aid the Department in formulating its foreign policy and to help hone the human rights issues on which the US can help other countries.
The 2014 Human Rights Report for Saudi Arabia, the most recent year for which the report is available, is a chilling document. And the implication of its conclusions is that the US either has no influence in Saudi Arabia whatsoever or that our government has chosen to ignore Saudi Arabia’s gross human rights abuses because the country is a major US supplier of oil and a major consumer of US defense systems.
You be the judge. The report’s opening paragraphs set the tone for the next 57 pages:
The most important human rights problems reported included citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to change their government; pervasive restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of expression, including on the internet, and freedom of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and a lack of equal rights for women, children, and noncitizen workers . . . .
Other human rights problems reported included abuses of detainees; overcrowding in prisons and detention centers; investigating, detaining, prosecuting, and sentencing lawyers, human rights activists, and antigovernment reformists; holding political prisoners; denial of due process; arbitrary arrest and detention; and arbitrary interference with privacy, home, and correspondence. Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and discrimination based on gender, religion, sect, race, and ethnicity were common.
If we know the nature of Saudi Arabia’s human rights problems and we know that the country is executing activists, artists, children, political opponents, women, and others, shouldn’t the White House do something about it? I would posit that it should.
If history is any indication, oppressive governments around the world have a finite existence. You can’t keep all the people down all the time. A country ruled with an iron fist by 15,000 cousins cannot be a model of stability.
With a hostile Iran to the east, Shia Iraq to the north, Israel to the northwest, and a hostile and war-torn Yemen to the south, the Saudis ought to be thinking of ways to improve their internal stability and attract international support, beginning with a policy of improving human rights and civil liberties.
Washington apparently doesn’t have the stomach or political foresight to push them in that direction. Both the White House and the State Department have just pretended that no problems exist. It’s up to the Saudis to turn the ship around before it’s too late. If they fail to do that, it could be royal heads that end up on the chopping block.
John Kiriakou is an Associate Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer and former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mother of Three Faces Death by Stoning in Saudi Arabia
The Clarion Project
(December 3, 2015) — A domestic worker of Sri Lankan origin was sentenced to death by stoning in Saudi Arabia, on charges of zina – sexual relations outside marriage.
The 45-year-old mother of three will be stoned to death tomorrow, December 4, according to the Muslim Womenâ€™s Research & Action Front in Sri Lanka.
The man, who is unmarried, will receive 100 lashes.
Saudi Arabia is governed by strict sharia and implements the brutal hudud punishments. Recently it sentenced to death a poet for apostasy, drawing frequent comparisons between its government and that of the Islamic State. Both are based on the same austere Salafist-Wahhabist stream of Sunni Islam.
The Islamic State also executes women for sex outside marriage by stoning.
Even if they do not fall foul of Saudi Arabiaâ€™s draconian penal code, Sri Lankan domestic workers, along with those from other countries, face severe discrimination in Saudi Arabia.
Sri Lankan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries â€œsuffer physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; nonpayment of wages; food deprivation; confiscation of their identity documents; forced confinement in the workplace; and limitations on their ability to return to their home countries when they wish to do so,â€ according to a 2007 Human Rights Watch report entitled Exported and Exposed.
There have not been changes in the labor law of Saudi Arabia or surrounding countries since that report was released and Sri Lankan women still face severe abuse.
A petition was created on avaaz.org calling on Saudi Arabia to commute the sentence of death by stoning and instead extradite both the woman and her alleged lover to their home countries.
Executions in Saudi Arabia are normally carried out in public, as various online videos shows.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.