As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:
In a lightning-fast trial, the same Egyptian judge who originally sentenced 528 Egyptians to death ordered 683 more to be executed – including the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This new verdict is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences Amnesty has recently seen anywhere in the world.
An Egyptian court has shocked the world by issuing a mass death sentence to 528 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi for their alleged role in a riot last July that turned violent.
This is the largest number of death sentences handed down in one case Amnesty International has seen in recent years.
This is not justice. It’s the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and it could be an attempt to wipe out political opposition. But the Egyptian authorities may yield to local and international pressure to overturn the convictions.
On Friday, President Obama is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, a country whose government is highly repressive. But instead of raising human rights, Obama’s trip has been described by The New York Times as focused on “fence-mending.”
This is the wrong approach.
As we say in our Amnesty International letter to President Obama:
For too long, the U.S. has put geopolitics and access to energy over support for human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.
This Friday, President Obama is going to Saudi Arabia. But despite the Saudi Arabian government’s terrible record on human rights, the White House hasn’t said that human rights will be on the agenda.
Over 50 Members of Congress beg to differ. A growing number of U.S. representatives have signed a bipartisan letter calling on President Obama to stand up for human rights when he meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
Here are three ways you can take action to make sure President Obama makes human rights a priority when he visits Saudi Arabia:
This post was originally published in The Hill under the title: “Call An Occupation An Occupation.”
In his speech on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said much of what one might have expected at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But what was most telling was the one word he didn’t utter: occupation.
It wasn’t just Netanyahu who steered clear of the word. So too did U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his comments the night before. It is this act of repeated omission that adds so much confusion to the simple question of what concerned Americans must do to advance human rights in the region.
As a major supplier of arms and military aid to Israel, the U.S. government is not just a convener of “peace talks” and negotiations. It is also a major investor in the status quo, a state of affairs in which millions of Palestinian civilians face the risk of brutal violence from Israeli security forces simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
This article originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog. Edith Garwood, Amnesty International USA’s Country Specialist on Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the Palestinian Authority contributed to this piece.
Despite talk of a peace process, the Israeli army has ordered the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinians – men, women and children – from their homes in the occupied West Bank. Why? Because the military wants to turn eight Palestinian villages into a “firing zone” for military training. Even as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry speak in favor of a peace agreement, the U.S.-subsidized Israeli military is subjecting Palestinians to ongoing human rights abuses.
In his New York Times opinion piece regarding Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin argues against the recently proposed U.S. military strike on Syria. Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones armed intervention in Syria. However, some of President Putin’s arguments obscure Russia’s own role in blocking a resolution to the human rights crisis in Syria.
Amid a swirl of political developments, President Obama is set to deliver a national televised speech on Syria at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight. The speech was originally expected to be an effort by the White House to argue for a U.S. military strike targeting Syria. But now there’s talk of U.N. Security Council proposals to remove Syria’s chemical weapons from the country, for presumed eventual destruction. And against a backdrop of growing domestic opposition to a U.S. military strike, the U.S. government is changing its political posture in response.
Given the rapidly shifting geopolitical landscape, it is difficult to know for sure what President Obama will say in a few short hours. Indeed, it’s likely that White House advisers are themselves still editing the President’s script as you read this.
Promises by the authorities to use lethal methods only as a last resort to disperse protesters appear to have been broken. All too often in the past, Egyptian security forces have used excessive force against demonstrators with catastrophic consequences.
Amnesty International working on the ground to verify any abuses that may have been carried out after a pro-Morsi sit-in was dispersed in Cairo today. We also stress Egyptian security forces must take urgent steps to avoid further bloodshed.
Access to the main hospital in the area near the sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya is also reported to be restricted.