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Amnesty International USA has sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding his current tour of the Middle East, with visits to Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for Middle East North Africa, issued this statement:

“While Secretary Pompeo holds talks with the leaders of countries in the Gulf, the United States continues to transfer arms to Saudi Arabia, despite the devastating civilian suffering caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes in Yemen. This brazen disregard for human rights and humanitarian law must not continue.

“Pompeo must act on this opportunity to improve the US record on human rights in the Gulf. We urge him to place basic rights at the heart of these meetings by pledging to halt arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition, as well as condemning the persecution of human rights defenders for peacefully expressing dissent and speaking in support of freedom of the press. Failure to raise these issues would embolden states in the Gulf to continue trampling human rights.”

Amnesty International is calling for the release of human rights defenders across the region including Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain, blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, and Amal Fathy, imprisoned for her criticism of the Egyptian government.

The letter is available in full here.