Philip Luther, Director of Middle East and North African affairs at Amnesty International, is quoted as saying in today’s Amnesty press release on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia that:
‘Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression . . . For all the peaceful activists that have been arbitrary detained, tortured or imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since, the international community has a duty to hold the authorities to account’.
The report accompanying the press release apparently documents ‘the systemic discrimination of women in both law and practice . . . The abuse of migrant workers . . . Discrimination against minority groups . . . Executions based on summary trials and “confessions” extracted under torture . . . Torture and other ill-treatment’.
Always worth remembering, whenever members of the British Establishment start dabbing at their eye and telling us how moved and concerned they are about human rights abuses in any given country (which is why we have to bomb/invade/subvert that country), that the regime in Saudi Arabia is one of their closest allies – be it the Tories in power, or be it Labour – and that the interests of the British oil and arms companies who benefit from the relationship are prioritised above the rights of the people who live there, every time.
British bombers supplied to the Saudi regime have also been used to kill ‘possibly thousands’ of civilians in Yemen, while British armoured vehciles supplied to the Saudi regime have been used to violently crush protest in Bahrain.
It’s hardly a secret, this, that the British Establishment are facilitators and supporters of dictatorship and repression in the middle east. But for some reason, as Glenn Greenwald points out here, they’re still able to get away with portraying themselves as, and being taken seriously as, champions and promoters of human rights and democracy, rather than the champions and promoters of corporate interests that they are.