‘UN on the side of dictatorships, not freedom’
RT:Does this look to you like bitter irony that Saudi Arabia is going to host a summit on human rights?
Ali Al-Ahmed: Saudi Arabia is an example of no human rights. For the international community to have this summit without highlighting the massive abuse of human rights by the Saudi government is a huge mistake, it is an insult to the victims of the Saudi government human rights violations. Saudi Arabia is one of the darkest places for human rights.
It shows again the international community’s, especially the Western countries’, claim to support human rights. This shows that they are unfaithful to these claims and this shows their hypocrisy, and in fact their disregard for people in Arab countries... their rights and their dignity. It is an insult for the UN and Western governments to give Saudi Arabia a pass on human rights.
RT:What human rights violations are most common in Saudi Arabia?
AA: The human rights violations in Saudi Arabia are long and complicated. They include the fact that women in that country are not considered human beings; they are considered a part of a man and subject to a man’s decision. It includes the lack of any human rights organization in the country- the only human rights organizations in Saudi Arabia are government operated...
You are looking at an example of no freedoms of any kind for the people of that country including the rights of religious freedom for non-Muslims, for example. If you’re a non-Muslim in Saudi Arabia you cannot be buried... This is a huge insult to the majority of the world’s population. The UN should stand and speak clearly on this issue and other human rights violations.
RT:Why do you think Saudi Arabia was so eager to host the summit on human rights?
AA: The Saudi government always claims to be a human rights haven, to be a defender of human rights and the part of their public relations campaign outside the country, especially in the West; the Saudi monarchy is a progressive monarchy. They use the UN (this is not the first time by the way) with the support of some Western governments to give themselves the appearance that they are just and tolerant and human right advocates.
RT:Is that true those human rights activists are often being released from jail in exchange for their silence – they are banned from talking to the media and sharing their ideas? How dangerous is the life of a human rights activist in Saudi Arabia?
AA: Most of the human rights activist in Saudi Arabia have now been arrested and in jail for 15 years. Take for example the case of Walid Abu al-Khair, the human rights lawyer, who has been sentenced to the 15 years behind bars for trying to advocate for human rights. [On Sunday] we saw the case of blogger [Raif Badawi] who was sentenced for 10 years and 1,000 lashes, tortured by lashes... That shows that the UN organization is not on the side of freedom and human rights, but on the side of dictatorships. And like I said, human rights advocates in that country are subject to long imprisonment, to torture and to revocation of travel privileges and even from accessing the job market.
RT:What is changing in terms of the human rights situation? Is there any progress? Is any progress expected?
AA:There is no progress expected given the fact that there are new players in the Saudi government: Two young princes, the Crown Prince and his deputy, who take a very hard-line against human rights. The current Crown Prince and the interior minister Muhammad bin Nayef established death squads that have murdered at least 25 people who are protesters. The war on Yemen waged by the Minister of Defense is killing 4,000 civilians. What we expect in terms of human rights is going to be worse conditions in the next few years because of these people who are in charge, who do not tolerate dissent, who want people to submit to their policies and want them to not speak about it. So, I don’t see any good prospect for human rights under the Saudi government.
RT:Could you tell us about the Ali Ahmad Asseri case?
AA: Ali Ahmad Asseri was a Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles, the Saudi Council was there, and he defected to the US. He is a first Arab Muslim diplomat to declare that he is gay. He sought asylum in the US, but the US government to please the Saudi government denied him asylum. Although, it’s a very clear case that he will be either killed or imprisoned for many years. The US violated its own stated policy and denied him asylum…The US stood in his way to get asylum in the US in contradiction to their claim that they support gay rights, for example, in Russia or in other countries. When it comes to Saudi Arabia they are making a U-turn on gay rights.
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