Saudi Arabia’s Violations of Human Rights Supported by Trump’s Administration

For years, Saudi Arabia has had the honour to be one of the principal violators of human rights in the world. Regardless of its efforts to hide it from the international community, numerous local human rights organisations have regularly exposed the abuses perpetrated by the regime. In response, the Saudi government has banned all international human rights organisations from entering Saudi Arabia. As numerous organisations have suggested, the primary problem remains in the system and the interpretation of the Sharia (Islamic law).

Saudi Arabia uses Sharia (Islamic law) as its domestic legislation. There is no a formal penal code; the criminal justice court derives its interpretation from an extreme version of Sharia. In most of cases, detainees do not have a fair trial and are not allowed to meet with a lawyer during their interrogations. Further, the authorities do not usually inform them about their charges until the trial has already started and their lawyers are never allowed to interview witnesses or even present evidence during the trial. Judges usually sentence detainees to flogging, with hundreds of lashes. Children can also be judged as adults if there are signs of puberty. Saudi authorities detain suspects for months, or even years, without judicial review or prosecution. Here are some cases of extreme abuses and detentions in recent years:

1.Raif Badawi.

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Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for insulting Islam through electronic channels.When Badawi was arrested, he was running a liberal blog advocating for human rights in Saudi Arabia. He used his blog to expose the violations of human rights committed by the Saudi government. In 2013, Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but in 2014, he was resentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in jail plus a fine. Badawi is currently in prison in precarious health; according to his wife he could soon die if he is not released.

2. Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr.

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Ali Al-Nimr was just 17 years old when he was sentenced to death by crucifixion in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprising. He was accused of participation in an illegal demonstration and as well as a large number of other offences. Like most of the human rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia, Al-Nimr was tortured and forced to sign a criminal confession. He is currently in prison awaiting his crucifixion which could happen at any time without notice.

3.Essam Koshak.

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On January 8, 2017, the human rights defender Koshak was summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mecca and was immediately detained. Koshak was interrogated about his Twitter account, where he frequently exposed the violations of human rights committed by the Saudi regime. Like other detainees, he was not allowed to meet with a lawyer during his interrogation. Koshak is currently detained while awaiting his trial.

4.Dawood Al-Marhoon.

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On May 22, 2012, at the age of 17, Dawood Al-Marhoon was arrested for allegedly participating in peaceful anti-government protests during the Arab Spring. During his detention, Dawood was tortured and forced to sign a false confession. On October 21, 2014, the criminal court sentenced him to death by beheading. Dawood is currently awaiting his execution while being tortured on a regular basis. He could be executed at any time without previous notice.

These three cases represent a sample from the hundreds of human rights defenders who have been unfairly detained and killed in recent years by the Saudi government. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 150 persons between January and mid-November, mostly for murder and terrorism-related offences. However, among these executions, there were 22 for non-violent drug crimes, including human rights defenders. In Saudi Arabia, most executions are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. Aside from the illegal detention and execution of human rights defenders, the Saudi regime also commits other sorts of violations of human rights.

In 2016, while holding an illegal blockade in Yemen, the Saudi government authorised 58 unlawful airstrikes, killing 800 civilians and hitting homes, markets, hospitals, schools, and mosques. Because of the Saudi blockade, an estimated 14.4 million Yemenis were unable to meet their food needs, according to the United Nations.

In Saudi Arabia women are denigrated, they must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel, to marry, to exit prison, or to get access to health care. They also need a male relative to do transactions, such as filing legal claims or renting an apartment. Most of the schools do not offer physical education for women, and until recent times women were not allowed to participate in national competitions. The labour situation for women is not better. They face a range of abuses including being overworked, non-payment of wages, food deprivation, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Women who attempt to report employer abuses sometimes face prosecution based on counterclaims of theft, “black magic,” or “sorcery.” 

Despite numerous investigations concluding that in 2015/2016 the Saudi Regime was the principal violator of human rights in the world, on Nov. 21, 2016, the United Nations elected Saudi Arabia, represented by Abdulaziz, to a 3-year term on its Human Rights Council.

As mentioned earlier, Trump’s administration has decided to continue collaborating with the Saudi regime by doing some business and providing them weapons. It is clear that if Trump wants to eradicate Islamic terrorism and advocate for human rights, he should stop collaborating with Saudi Arabia and apply high standards to himself.

Unfortunately, Trump has not been the only U.S. president who has collaborated with the Saudi regime. Under Obama’s presidency, the U.S. provided Saudi Arabia weapons and intelligence support during the illegal Saudi military operations in Yemen. In August, the US government approved a US$1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, despite significant opposition from members of Congress, who were concerned about Saudi conduct in Yemen.

While countries like the U.S. collaborate with the Saudi regime, it will continue violating human rights, executing innocents and boosting Islamic terrorism. The only way to change the Saudi system is by uniting the international community to push the kingdom to reform its system and guarantee basic rights to its citizens. Until then, Trump has lost his legitimacy as a president since he has already violated his promise to cut off ties with Arabia Saudi.

In the near future, we will see whether the Saudi government will reform its system. Though there is not much hope, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.The destiny of millions of people are in the hands of the international community led by the U.S. Hopefully, Trump will soon realize his huge mistake and will halt his collaboration with Saudi Arabia. It could then be the beginning of the new dawn where human rights are respected.

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Trump and his Dirty Relations with Saudi Arabia

Over the last few months, President Trump has declared himself the person who will lead the international community in eliminating Islamic terrorism. However, his cabinet, led by CIA director Mike Pompeo, has started to strengthen its collaboration with Saudi Arabia (a state sponsor of terrorism).

On Sunday, the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo awarded Prince Mohammed, 57, with the George Tenet medal “for his counter-terrorism work.”

“excellent intelligence performance in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realising world security and peace,” Pompeo said.

“The US and Saudi Arabia…have extensive ties. We have extensive challenges that we’re working on in counter-terrorism, in security, maritime security, and the whole gamut of issues,” Pompeo said.

Apparently, hypocrisy is rampant in the White House, President Trump himself once suggested that he believed that Saudi Arabia was a state sponsor of terrorism. He added:

“We are prepared to stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia unless the kingdom provides ground troops to fight Islamic State.”

Trump’s administration has also reported that they are preparing a $300m (£240m) package for precision-guided weapons technology for Riyadh (Saudi Arabia, a state sponsor of terrorism). At this point, the central question is how will Trump eradicate Islamic terrorism if he is arming those who sponsor and fund terrorism?

By collaborating with the Saudi government, Trump is indirectly funding terrorism and betraying millions of citizens who elected him to fight terrorism. Trump’s actions not only affect Americans, but also represent a global threat, particularly for Western countries.

Saudi Arabia governs based on an extreme interpretation of Sharia law (Islamic law widely compared to ISIL). The Saudi regime has also spent over $100 billion on exporting and implementing Sharia law worldwide. To succeed, it uses charitable organisations which work in refugees camps and poor communities where uneducated and oppressed people are more susceptible to become radicalised. Besides, Saudi’s elites and business community are funding terrorism through organisations such as the International Islamic Relief, an institution created to hide the illegitimate funding of terrorism from the international community. Wikileaks reported:

“…donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

The Saudi government has shut down several charitable organisations which fund terrorism. However, the United Nations (UN) has reported several times that the Saudi government has not closed down those institutions listed by the international community as terrorists.

The U.S. intelligence services have always been aware that the Saudi regime has been collaborating with terrorist groups. In addition, it suggested that the Saudi Arabian government could have indirectly funded 9/11 (mostly perpetrated by Saudi Arabian citizens).

In conclusion, President Trump fully acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is exporting and funding terrorism worldwide. However, he is not taking any steps towards halting it. Instead, he has decided to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and the Saudi regime by keeping several businesses in operation and providing them with arms. When President Trump was elected, he said:

“I am going to unite the civilised world to fight and eliminate Islamic terrorism”

Trump had a tremendous opportunity to take a step forward in seeking the elimination of Islamic terrorism. However, he has decided to prioritise his businesses with the Saudi regime before the security of millions of citizens. After this decision, the question is: How can Trump retain his legitimacy as President?

The fight against Islamic terrorism was Trump’s central promise during the last presidential campaign. It is evident that while Saudi Arabia funds terrorism, organisations such as ISIL and Al-Qaida will continue expanding their operational capacity. While this happens any collaboration with the Saudi regime will help terrorism and, the U.S. is collaborating with them.

There are still millions of people who, regardless Trump’s political orientation, still think that he is honest because he is fulfilling all his promises. However, the facts expose the contrary and politicians should be entitled to their words. Trump won the election as the person who would change the rule of law to fight against corruption, lies and terrorism.

So far, in just three weeks Trump has divided the country to levels not seen since the 60s, kept ties with his previous businesses directly or indirectly, and he has betrayed millions of American citizens by boosting terrorism.

For now, Trump will continue making controversial and unproductive decisions while millions of citizens will try to convince him to reverse them. For that reason, it is maybe time to ask oneself: if in just three weeks Trump has made unpardonable wrong decisions, what could happen after three or four years?

Remember to be reflective and honest with yourself when seeking an answer. Until then, you may try to convince your government to stop collaborating with Saudi Arabia and therefore indirectly with terrorism. There is still light at the end of the tunnel, however, it is gradually fading. You may consider taking (peaceful) strong actions before it is too late.

-Any sort of terrorism regardless of its political orientation should be eradicated as soon as possible-

By Josep.

 

Trump: The U.S. Transition From Democracy to Authoritarianism

In Upper New York Bay there stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom. She is also the Mother of Immigrants, embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. She stirs the desire for liberty in people all over the world. She represents the United States itself. However… In the last few weeks, the flame of freedom from her torch has started to flicker.ocaso sol estatua libertad simbolismo.jpgIn just two weeks, President Trump’s unlawful decisions and his unprecedented pressures on judges to rule in his favour have shaken the fundamentals of U.S. Democracy. For many, this indicates that Trump has hidden plans to turn the U.S. authoritarian to gain power. However, it won’t be possible without dominating the Supreme Court.supreme-courtThe U.S. Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and final expositor of the Constitution of the United States. It marks the boundaries of authority between state and nation, state and state, and government and citizen. It has the jurisdiction to determine whether Trump’s decisions are unlawful or not.

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The Supreme Court is composed of nine membersfour of which are currently Republican, and the other four liberal. The recent nomination of Neil Gorsuch (a Republican) to sit on the Supreme Court has set off all alarms. His presidency would tilt the balance for Republicans, and it could help Trump to accumulate an absolute power.

President Trump’s crusade to dominate courts and judges from all over the U.S. started when Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. In response, Trump increased his pressures on Judges until days before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension.Trump said:

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Another indication of the U.S. transition into an authoritarian state is so-called alternative facts. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer suggested that the U.S. government could “sometimes disagree” with real facts presented by the Media.

“Sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Sean Spicer said.

“Trump’s team is offering  alternative facts to media reports,”  Kellyanne Conway said.

Trump started his attacks against the mainstream media during the last presidential campaign. Back then, several outlets plotted with Clinton and his aides to help her to win the election. Trump is now using it to fabricate stories to convince citizens that the only honest information comes from government sources.

As if this was not enough, on February 1, Republicans voted successfully to change the Congress rules to elect nominees without Democrats. It happened days later; Trump suggested them to “go nuclear” if Democrats tried to halt any of his decisions. Trump added:

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,””Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect,” he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. “So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”

As we can see, there are many indicators that Trump’s government has initiated the U.S. transition from democracy to authoritarianism. However, to dissipate doubts, one must compare Trump’s decisions with dictators from other countries. All authoritarian states share in common an underlying structure based in the re-centralization of power. The following list describes some basic structure of a dictatorship:

1.Little or no freedom of speech
2.No freedom to hold meetings without the approval of the government.
3.No freedom of movement-individuals needs documents/internal passports to move around inside the country.
4.No freedom to travel abroad.
5.No independent justice system.
6.Promote alternative facts and censor the Mainstream media.
7.Any opposition to the regime is punished.
8.Change rules of government’s institutions.

It is evident then that President Trump has already implemented several basic structures from the list to do a U-turn into an authoritarian state. He has started his crusade against the media, changed the rules of the Congress, attempted to end with the neutrality of the judicial system and violated the U.S. Constitution. However, while the flame of the freedom of the Statue of Liberty is still burning, there will be hope and citizens, union workers and organisations will have the last word…

Netanyahu: The Criminal Who Is Still Free

During the last decade, Netanyahu has been responsible for numerous violations of human rights, war crimes, sexual abuses of children and the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians. For years, the international community led, by the U.S. has ignored Netanyahu’s crimes. However, his recidivism of criminal acts against Palestinians on a regular basis has led several countries and international organisations to condemn Israeli’s war crimes and violation of human rights. The increasing indignation among world MP’s with Netanyahu’s government may soon trigger a prosecution against him at the International Court. Here are some of his atrocities:

-WAR CRIMES

In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu launched the Operation Protective Edge based on a 50 days war in Gaza. During the operation, Israel indiscriminately killed over 1500 innocent people, including children. More than 20,000 homes were reduced to rubble or rendered uninhabitable. However, the most shocking event was the assassination of four children of the same family who were playing football on the beach. The Israeli government alleged that they thought they were terrorists.

It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as just kids with all the advanced technology they had been using,” “I don’t know what justification they will use for what they did, but our boys are now gone,” the uncle said.

During 50 days of attacks, Israeli forces wreaked massive death and destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 2100 civilians, more than 500 of whom were children,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

NUMBERS:

Palestinians killed: 2,139
Palestinian children killed: 525
Israeli soldiers killed: 64
Israeli civilians killed: 6
Israeli children killed: 1
Palestinians wounded: 11,000
Palestinian children wounded: 3,000
Gaza residents displaced: Up to 500,000
Homes destroyed in Gaza: 20,000


-Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.

For years, Israel has been occupying Palestinian territories pursuing its expansion and Palestinian ethnic cleansing. Since Trump became the U.S. president, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has accelerated the expansion of the existing Israeli settlements by authorising the construction of 5.500 new houses in the West Bank. For that to happen, often the Israeli military forces evict Palestinian families from their houses.

In 2016, the UN adopted a resolution reiterating its demand that Israel immediately ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. The resolution was approved with 24 votes in favour and the U.S abstention.

-The Siege of Gaza

Since 2007, around 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip have been living under a land, sea and air closure blockade imposed by Israel. The impossibility of obtaining external medicines, food, drinkable water and other goods has triggered a humanitarian crisis without precedent. Thousands of Palestinians with serious illnesses are condemned to die due to the impossibility of going abroad to receive their pertinent treatments. As some officials recognised, “the purpose of implementing this blockade is to put Palestinians on a diet”

-Sexual violence against, and torture of, children:

During 2016, the number of cases of Israeli torture of children significantly increased. Often permanent physical disabilities were caused, including amputations. There were over 1300 children arrested and there are still 300 of them in Israeli jails. Around 40% of them were or will be sexually abused by police officers or military men. This degrading Israeli treatment of children violates international human rights law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children as young as 11. Security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.”

“Israeli forces’ mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children’s rights. As Israel’s largest military ally, the US, should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director.

-The defence for Children International concluded:

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that annually systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts that lack fundamental rights to a fair trial.”


-Recruitment of Palestinian children as human shields by Israeli armed forces.

Since 2004, DCIP has documented numerous cases where Israeli forces attempted to recruit Palestinian Children as informants. They are recruited to monitor the activities of people living in their community and pass this information onto Israeli Forces.

The International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits parties to a conflict from directing “the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objects from attacks or to shield military operations.”

During Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014, DCIP reported one incident where Israeli soldiers forced a 16 year-old-Palestinian to search for tunnels for five days. During that time, he was physically assaulted and deprived of food and sleep.

All these crimes and violations of international law represent a small sample of Netanyahu’s atrocities. Unless the international community proceeds to prosecute him at the International Court, Netanyahu will continue threatening thousands of families, women and children on a regular basis.

The international community will not be able to avoid taking action if Israel continues its persecution against Palestinians. Otherwise, it could create a bad precedent, which could be applied for populist emergent leaders to legitimize their illegitimate actions. For that reason, the international community will sooner or later take action to prosecute Netanyahu. But the issue is when? Palestinians do not have much more time to wait for. They struggle between life and death on a daily basis. They do not know if the next day Netanyahu will order an attack and they will die. People from the world are entitled to take action and push their MP’s to halt these sorts of atrocities as soon as possible.

Every second, day, week, month counts… Palestinian lives depend on you and the international community actions. People’s lives depend upon it.

By Josep