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(Washington, DC) – T. Kumar, International Advocacy Director in Washington for Amnesty International USA, issued the following comments in response to President Obama’s speech today on the Middle East:
"President Obama delivered a strong denunciation of the abuses that are being committed in the region and rightly underscored the importance of supporting civil society and the rights of those who are most marginalized But he has made similar remarks in the past, and his administration’s policies have not consistently matched the rhetoric.
Amnesty International welcomes the fact that President Obama highlighted the demolition of Shiite mosques in Bahrain and demanded the release of political prisoners there. We urge him to put his words on Bahrain into action, as he has done on Libya and Syria; otherwise, his words will ring hollow.
The president focused quite emphatically on development and anti-corruption efforts, especially in Egypt, which is essential to reversing terrible poverty there and supporting economic progress. This is a policy initiative with real potential to help advance the full range of human rights for all Egyptians.
The president also left unanswered the question of whether the United States will support demands for accountability for leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere who have been deposed. Justice will not be served until those responsible for human rights abuses are held to account.
The fact that the president failed to mention political prisoners in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates begs the question: Will the United States push to see that human rights in those countries also are protected? The question is left unanswered."
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