October 14, 2020

Jay Bernstein, President
Shelly Kassen, Chair
Robert Satloff, Executive Director
The Washington Institute
1111 19th Street NW Suite 500
Washington D.C. 20036

Dear Mr. Bernstein, Ms. Kassen, and Mr. Satloff,

We are deeply concerned to learn of your “Virtual Policy Forum” this Thursday, October 15, 2020, with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud.  At a time when the world is demanding accountability and human rights reforms from Saudi Arabia’s government, the Washington Institute is hosting a solo interview with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister that excludes voices of accountability for his government’s horrific human rights crimes.  

Just two weeks after the anniversary of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Institute is showcasing a representative of a government known for its assassinations, brutal warfare, interventions against democracy, and deep promotion of climate-destroying fossil fuel exports.

We urge you to either cancel this event or expand the speakers’ list to include respected representatives of those directly impacted by the Saudi monarchy’s repression and brutality:

– Saudi exiles and dissidents who are advocating for democracy and human rights.

– Family members of those imprisoned and tortured by the Saudi monarchy.

– Yemeni community representatives who can raise questions regarding Saudi Arabia’s bombardment and starvation of Yemeni civilians

– Bahraini, Egyptian, Sudanese, and Libyan diaspora members who can speak to Saudi Arabia and UAE’s anti-democratic interventions in their countries of origin.

– Environmental advocates who can speak to Saudi Arabia’s “greenwashing” of its climate-destroying record.

At a time when the world is calling out for democracy and environmental sustainability, the Washington Institute should not provide a sheltered propaganda platform for a representative of one of the world’s most brutal authoritarian governments, the monarchy that rules Saudi Arabia.

We urge you to use your platform to provide your audience with a fair and unbiased picture of the current political, social, and environmental realities of Saudi Arabia’s role in the region, by either including these voices or canceling this event.


Action Corps

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

Demand Progress Education Fund

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

Freedom Forward

The Freedom Initiative

Health Alliance International

Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program

Peace Action

Yemeni Alliance Committee

Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation