Ilhan Omar’s Bill Calls for US to Halt Arms Sales to Tyrants
Win Without War
(December 6, 2021) — The United States is the world’s largest exporter of war.
In 2020, our government advanced over $100,000,000,000 (that’s one hundred BILLION dollars) of weapons sales to countries that we know commit severe human rights abuses — Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, the Philippines, India, and more.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Congress is considering H.R. 4718, a critical bill introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar — aptly named the Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act — that would prohibit military aid and arms sales to countries that commit severe human rights violations. And we — tens of thousands of anti-war activists — can show the political AND people-powered momentum behind this bill by getting more Representatives to join as cosponsors.
ACTION: Please add your name to Win Without War’s petition calling on members of Congress to cosponsor and pass the Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act.
This year alone, the United States has sent deadly weapons to:
- Saudi Arabia, which has been accused by the United Nations Human Rights Council of committing war crimes in Yemen;
- India, where the far-right government has killed and intimidated minority communities in an effort to create a Hindu-supremacist state;
- Israel, which is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
- Egypt, where the US State Department has reported human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, abductions, and torture; — and more.
Congress has the power to stop enabling human rights abuses around the world. And if we build unstoppable momentum to support the Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act, they won’t be able to ignore our call!
Building a world where US foreign policy isn’t up for the highest bidder won’t be easy, but together, we’re resetting a failed status quo of US foreign policy that prolongs war and human suffering worldwide.
To members of the 117th Congress:
In the past year, the United States has enabled, through military aid and weapons deals, severe human rights violations by India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Egypt, and more.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Congress has the power to stop enabling human rights abuses around the world.
Please cosponsor and vote for H.R.5880, the Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act, so human rights violators cannot keep using US-made weapons to commit war crimes with impunity.
The SAHRAA Act Focuses on Human Rights Abusers
— Including Tanzania, Israel, and India
(September 12, 2021) — US Congresswoman for Minnesota Ilhan Omar’s “Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act (SAHRAA)” aims to reform US foreign policy and aid regimens.
By aligning the aid process with the human rights designs of countries, she wants to eradicate violent practices worldwide.
Under this act, America’s security aid to countries that violate international human rights law or international humanitarian law would be blocked.
The bill establishes red lines based on globally recognized severe violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
This bill is a fair worry for countries like Tanzania, where the human rights deterioration continues as the opposition leader Freeman Mbowe is jailed for terrorism charges, and the government is busy teaming up with the judiciary to slaughter political rivals.
Global heavyweights like Israel and India will also face the US wrath if the law goes into a complete application.
This act highlights the importance of diplomatic and multilateral approaches over militarism.
The White House must issue sanctions against any country that commits genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, which must be defined in detail under this law.
In the proposed law, the president would decide whether such crimes have been committed, but an office called the “Commission on Atrocity Accountability and Human Rights” would also be established with lawmakers and appointed officials.
Facts about human rights violations would be gathered and reviewed by the commission. In relation to SAHRAA sanctions, the president, the secretary of state, and Congress would receive recommendations from the commission.
The United States government would no longer be allowed to provide assistance in intelligence, training, equipment, or other services to the country if the president determined crimes listed in SAHRAA were committed.
A ban on arms sales and exchanges would apply to both state and local law enforcement as well as military forces.
Standing Alone for Human Rights Worldwide
Rep. Ilhan Omar is a dedicated and vocal supporter of human rights around the world. Being a progressive Democrat, she never hesitates to express her displeasurewhenever governments use force or pass legislation to silence opposing voices.
During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2021, Rep. Ilhan Omar asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “Where do human rights abuse victims, such as those perpetrated by Israel and the United States, seek justice?”
The question comes after Blinken publicly opposed an investigation into Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians by the International Criminal Court.
In a video clip posted on Twitter regarding the Palestine issue, Ilhan said, all victims of crimes against humanity deserve equal accountability and justice.
Ms. Omar has previously condemned white supremacist groups for propagating bigotry, as well as China, Myanmar, and India as state actors accountable for human rights violations against Muslims.
The Minnesota congresswoman wants a special envoy to be appointed by the US administration to fight rising Islamophobia.
She, along with a group of Democratic lawmakers, called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to appoint this ambassador.
She also wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which she questioned the role that the company played in violence in many countries like Rwanda.
Moreover, she emphasized Facebook’s role in spreading posts about hate crimes, speeches, and even genocide in countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia and called on the company to take appropriate measures against these posts.
Israel and India:
Much to Worry About if SAHRAA is Implemented
The United States is an everlasting contributor to Israel’s military arsenal, where Democrats often champion human rights issues supporting the injustices in the Middle East.
While President Biden himself announced that human rights are the epicenter of his foreign policy, he has rarely walked the talk in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Even in the case of India, despite the continuous human rights violations of Indian forces in the state-held Kashmir, the Biden administration hesitated to take any significant action against the South Asian nation, seeing that it is the crucial strategic partner of the US to counter China in Asia.
Tanzania Must be Scrutinized Under SAHRAA
With this act’s approval, countries whose dissident voices are suppressed and whose governments and institutions use violence against their citizens will be punished through restrictions.
Countries like Tanzania have been in the limelight for their shrinking space of political freedom. Just when the Tanzanian president is busy curbing media efforts to promote transparency, these laws can hit her hard in prolonging her efforts.
The biased judiciary and other governmental institutions in Tanzania have been used by presidents to prosecute political rivals.
Now is the time that the practical implementation of this law can stop the USAID programs in Tanzania to pressure the ruling CCM.
Many poor countries will succumb to the US demands if their aid is cut off because these countries heavily depend on these aid programs to curb the rising populist protests.
The Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act is a new progressive policy baseline for the United States.
In the United States, Congress often reacts too late to crises and atrocities abroad, especially when they are committed by its security allies. The objective of the bill is to change this approach.
The act also requires the State Department to actively collaborate with the country in question in order to create justice measures that will bring them back into conformity.
Separately, it establishes a nonpartisan, independent committee, modeled after the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, to make recommendations on which nations should be included and which should be delisted under the law.
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