(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In response to reports that President Barack Obama did not raise the issue of Saudi Arabia's human rights record when he met with officials in the Gulf Kingdom today, Sunjeev Bery, Advocacy Director for Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:
"Human rights were missing in action during President Obama’s dialogue with Saudi Arabian officials today. Not only did President Obama stay silent in public, but according to his staff, he said nothing about human rights in private meetings with King Abdullah, either. The President’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries.
"An unprecedented 70 Members of Congress urged the President to stand up for the many Saudi Arabians facing significant government repression. Instead, President Obama appears to have done nothing. And according to a U.S. official quoted in Reuters, the President just didn’t have the time to bring up human rights in private, either.
"On Saturday, Saudi Arabian women activists will defy the government’s ban on women driving. It is the only such ban in the world. Through Amnesty International’s campaign, thousands of people in the U.S. have shown their solidarity with these brave women. Unfortunately, White House officials, including the President, will not be among them."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.