Andy Cohen, Bravo slammed by human rights groups ahead of ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ premiere,” Yahoo News, May 27, 2022

“The human rights groups — Freedom Forward, Action Corps, Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues, CODEPINK, European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights, FairSquare, Health Advocacy International, Human Rights Sentinel, Just Foreign Policy, Last Mile4D, Peace Action and ReThinking Foreign Policy — sent an open letter to Bravo, its parent company NBCUniversal and the production company Truly Original expressing deep concern over the show.

‘Dubai is an absolute monarchy that is part of the dictatorship of the United Arab Emirates,’ it said. ‘By setting the Real Housewives franchise inside Dubai, you are helping the UAE dictatorship hide its male rulers’ misogyny, legalized homophobia and mass violence against women.'”

Multiple Outlets Cover Statement to Andy Cohen Condemning ‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’

A group of 12 separate organizations – including Freedom Forward – banded together and sent a statement to Bravo, as well as executives from NBCUniversal and the Truly Original production company.

‘We are deeply concerned by your decision to produce and launch the latest edition of the Real Housewives series in Dubai,’ the letter read. ‘Dubai is an absolute monarchy that is part of the dictatorship of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). By setting the Real Housewives franchise inside Dubai, you are helping the UAE dictatorship hide its male rulers’ misogyny, legalized homophobia, and mass violence against women.’

Outlets that covered the statement include Yahoo EntertainmentRadar OnlineHeavy.com, The Daily Mail, Screen RantThe ThingsAll About the TeaReality Blurb and the Youtube show Kempire.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MEE_Logo_cropped.jpg







“Pelosi calls Israel’s creation the 20th century’s ‘greatest political achievement,” Middle East Eye, February 16, 2022

“Pelosi’s visit also comes just a few weeks after Amnesty International released a report stating that Israel’s ‘cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid.’

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director at Freedom Forward – a US-based human rights group – told MEE that Pelosi’s trip was an ‘attempt to change the headlines’ following Amnesty’s damning report.”





“Over 40 Human Rights and Foreign Policy Organizations Call on Formula 1 Star Lewis Hamilton to Raise Human Rights Concerns at the Saudi Grand Prix,” Speedway Digest, December 1, 2021

“The letter thanks Hamilton for his recent call for scrutiny over Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses. Hamilton has been a vocal advocate for Black Lives Matter and has expressed concern for Bahraini torture victims when the sport traveled to Bahrain in the 2020 season.

The organizations who have signed on are concerned about ‘sportswashing.’ Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship is trying to hide its brutal crimes behind a wave of sports-washing,’ says Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director of Freedom Forward, an organization that campaigns for human rights and democracy. ‘Lewis Hamilton and other courageous advocates for freedom have an opportunity to cut through the dictator’s propaganda and stand together with the brave Saudi and Yemeni voices who are demanding freedom and peace.'”

“The Facebook Papers Must Be Shared With Outlets Globally,” Wired, November 3, 2021

“Governments all over the world are using Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram as tools for surveillance and repression. And now, thanks to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, we have confirmation that Facebook has been systematically ignoring some of the more horrific human rights violations on its platform—especially if they take place in countries outside Western Europe and North America. In fact, Haugen told The New York Times that the danger to the global south was the reason she launched the Facebook Papers in the first place.

‘As a global platform, Facebook deserves global scrutiny,’ says Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, an organization that campaigns to end US support for non-democratic governments. ‘Authoritarian governments all over the world are skilled at using social media to drive their authoritarian agendas,’ he adds. ‘That’s why we need the journalists who understand these governments best to be at the table when it comes to analyzing the Facebook leaks.'”





“Threatening Foreign Journalists at Dubai Expo 2020 Illustrates Emirati Paradox,” Inside Arabia, October 12, 2021

“The European Parliament passed a resolution to boycott Dubai’s Expo 2020 and called for international companies sponsoring the global event to withdraw, over concerns regarding the UAE’s appalling human rights record—particularly towards activists, journalists, academics, and lawyers.

‘The European Parliament has taken a strong stand today against the brutal dictators of Dubai,’ said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a lead NGO organizer of the boycott effort. ‘The UAE monarchy has engaged in a cascade of human rights violations, including widespread abuses against women and war crimes in Yemen. The UAE Dubai Expo is organized by a member of the ruling family who himself has been accused of rape.'”







“‘English football will sell itself to anyone’: human rights groups on Saudi-Newcastle deal,” The Guardian, October 7, 2021

“Newcastle United has sold its name and reputation to a brutal government run by a brutal ruler, the organization founded by the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi warned on Thursday night, after the football club was taken over by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium.

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, an organization that works to end US alliances with non-democratic regimes, said that the PIF had also been directly implicated in the murder of Khashoggi.

‘The Saudi public investment fund owned the planes used by Khashoggi’s assassins,’ he told the Guardian. ‘The Saudi public investment fund is in charge of the destruction of tribal communities where Bin Salman wants to build his $500bn Neom city. So the public investment fund is the direct financial arm of the Saudi dictatorship’s brutality, and it is the source of the cash that finances the repressive system. There is no division between the PIF and the state. The Saudi ruler is in charge of the PIF, sits at the top of the PIF and uses the PIF directly to maintain power. The Saudi monarchy is using football to hide this horrifying record, and everyone should be utterly appalled.’”







“Amnesty urges Premier League to block Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle, The Guardian, October 7, 2021

“A £300m deal is expected to be approved by the Premier League later on Thursday, but Amnesty UK chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh, said the deal represented ‘a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.’

Saudi Arabia has also been widely condemned by other human rights organisations. They include Freedom Forward, whose executive director, Sunjeev Bery, has led high-profile advocacy efforts to boycott and isolate Bin Salman and the Saudi regime until its widespread human rights abuses are addressed.”






“Why is CNN doing PR for a Middle Eastern dictatorship?” The New Arab, October 7, 2021


“Ambiguity about CNN’s role in covering the (Dubai 2020) Expo, a track record of producing sponsored content for Dubai and publication of a slew of articles profiling Dubai and promoting tourism in the emirate raise ethical and legal questions.

‘CNN’s relationship with the dictatorship that rules the United Arab Emirates lacks transparency,’ said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a group leading a boycott effort against the Expo. ‘The UAE’s rulers have long used propaganda campaigns to hide their horrible human rights crimes, and CNN appears to be playing a role in supporting this dictatorship’s PR agenda.'”







“Dozens of rights groups call for boycott of Dubai Expo 2020,” The New Arab, October 3, 2021


“More than 70 human rights organisations are urging countries, companies and the public to boycott the Dubai Expo 2020 in protest of the UAE’s human rights abuses.

Their campaign, ‘Expose the Expo,’ slammed the exhibition as propaganda to normalize and distract from the UAE’s involvement in the war in Yemen, cruel treatment of migrant workers and track record of arbitrary arrests.

(Freedom Forward’s Sunjeev) Bery offered an optimistic note on the campaign, saying that it marks a ‘path forward’ for countries and figures to play an ‘ethnical and careful role’ in global diplomacy.”






“UAE: Expo 2020 Dubai held to distract attention from rights abuses, says HRW,” Middle East Eye, October 1, 2021

“Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are using Expo 2020 Dubai to promote a public image of openness that is at odds with the government’s efforts to prevent scrutiny of its rampant systemic human rights violations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

On Thursday, a coalition of eight rights-based organizations called on CNN, an official broadcaster of Expo 2020 Dubai, to reveal all financial and contractual terms of its relationship with the UAE monarchy, ‘Expo 2020 Dubai,’ and of their ‘Dubai Now’ promotional content. 

The groups, which included Freedom Forward, Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) and Code Pink, said if CNN was unable to meet the requests, it should immediately withdraw as an official broadcaster for Expo2020 Dubai.”







“Pressure Mounts on CNN to Disclose Business Relationship with UAE,” The Column, September 30, 2021


“A new report from Responsible Statecraft’s Eli Clifton and a pressure campaign from a collection of activist groups has put CNN’s sycophantic coverage of the UAE in the spotlight as the media outlet prepares to be ‘the official broadcaster for Expo 2020 Dubai’ set to kick off hours from now.

Responsible Statecraft notes that CNN sometimes offers vague references to sponsored content but never says what is and isn’t, nor is the vast majority of their puffy UAE coverage labeled as such.

On the eve of Expo 2020, a collection of human rights, pro-democracy, and anti-war groups – including Freedom Forward – wrote an open letter to CNN demanding the outlet ‘reveal their relationship with UAE monarchy and report on UAE’s war in Yemen during Dubai Expo coverage.'”






“Why is CNN doing PR for a Middle Eastern dictatorship?” Responsible Statecraft, September 30, 2021

“Ambiguity about CNN’s role in covering the (Dubai 2020) Expo, a track record of producing sponsored content for Dubai and publication of a slew of articles profiling Dubai and promoting tourism in the emirate raise ethical and legal questions.

‘CNN’s relationship with the dictatorship that rules the United Arab Emirates lacks transparency,’ said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a group leading a boycott effort against the Expo. ‘The UAE’s rulers have long used propaganda campaigns to hide their horrible human rights crimes, and CNN appears to be playing a role in supporting this dictatorship’s PR agenda.'”








K Street Firm Finally Cuts Ties With Saudi Office Implicated in Khashoggi Murder,” Mother Jones, September 23, 2021

“A powerhouse DC lobbying firm has formally cut ties with the Saudi government office implicated in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The move comes after an advocacy group Khashoggi founded launched a campaign to shame the firm and one of its top lobbyists.

Squire Patton Boggs on September 17 terminated its representation of ‘the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court.’ That office, despite its mild name, acted as a hub for cyber hacking and more sinister efforts spearheaded by de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, to silence critics.

Freedom Forward,
an organization that worked with DAWN, also circulated a petition, signed by more than 6,300 people, calling for the firm and Newberry to stop working for the center.”



“European Parliament votes to boycott UAE Expo due to human rights issues,” The Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2021

“The European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Member States not to participate in the Expo 2020 Dubai, and for international companies to withdraw their sponsorship. They did this based on the (United Arab Emirates’) human rights track record.

‘The European Parliament has taken a strong stand today against the brutal dictators of Dubai. The UAE monarchy has engaged in a cascade of human rights violations, including widespread abuses against women and war crimes in Yemen. The UAE Dubai Expo is organized by a member of the ruling family who himself has been accused of rape,’ said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward, a lead NGO organizer of the boycott effort.”







“AIPAC accused of Islamophobia after attacks on Ilhan Omar,” Al Jazeera, August 12, 2021

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is facing accusations of Islamophobia and incitement after doubling down on attacks against Muslim-American congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.”

Freedom Forward’s Sunjeev Bery’s Tweet was used in this story:





“Collapse in oil prices and tighter relations with the US: a nightmare 2021 is expected for Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman,” il Fatto Quotidiano, March 7, 2021

“While the debate on whether to sanction MBS raged in Washington, the foundations were being laid nearby for a campaign against the coffers of the Wahhabi Kingdom. Encouraged by new revelations that the sovereign wealth fund is the owner of the two jets that brought Khashoggi’s killers to Istanbul, human rights groups have organized. 

‘The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund was directly involved in the Khashoggi assassination, its planes were used to transport the killers to Turkey,’ explains Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, a group that aims to end US support to non-democratic countries. Appeals from organizations for the protection of civil rights to divest themselves in Saudi Arabia are multiplying. In any case, even before the effect of these campaigns, we are far from the expectations of the governor of the Sovereign Fund, Yasir al-Rumayyan, who last year expected to have 2 trillion dollars in assets under management by 2030, the which would make it the largest equity fund in the world.”




“Saudi critics target kingdom’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund over Khashoggi killing,” Foreign Lobby, March 4, 2021

“Buoyed by new revelations that the country’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund owned the two jets that ferried Jamal Khashoggi’s killers to Istanbul, advocacy groups are exploring ways to go after a key instrument in Prince Mohammad’s vision to transform the oil-dependent kingdom into a high-tech economy of the future.

‘Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was directly involved in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi by using its planes to transport the monarchy’s assassins,’ said Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, an advocacy group that aims to end US support for non-democratic countries. ‘That’s a clear argument for the Biden administration putting sanctions on the senior leadership of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.’

‘For a long time, businesses have held the political behaviors of the Saudi monarchy at a rhetorical arm’s length while doing business with the Saudi monarchy via its financial institutions,’ Bery said. ‘Now we know that there’s basically no difference — that the leading investment fund of the Saudi monarchy is itself completely tied up in the brutal repression of that same government.'”






“Advocates target Saudi Arabia’s PIF over MBS’ role in Khashoggi murder,” Middle East Eye, March 4, 2021

Freedom Forward and its allies fired their first salvo on Tuesday with the release of a statement signed by 42 liberal groups calling for sanctions against Prince Mohammed and other PIF leaders following Friday’s release of the US intelligence assessment of the crown prince’s role in Khashoggi’s killing.

‘Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was directly involved in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi by using its planes to transport the monarchy’s assassins,’ said Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, an advocacy group that aims to end US support for non-democratic countries.

‘That’s a clear argument for the Biden administration putting sanctions on the senior leadership of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund,’ including its chairman, Prince Mohammed.”






“Court docs reveal Saudi wealth fund courted by Hollywood and Wall Street owned planes used in Jamal Khashoggi’s killing,” Business Insider, March 3, 2021

“Canadian court filings, first reported by CNN and later acquired and reviewed by Responsible Statecraft and Insider, reveal that Sky Prime Aviation was transferred to PIF (Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia) on December 22, 2017. Two Gulfstream jets owned by Sky Prime Aviation shuttled Khashoggi’s assassins in and out of Istanbul less than one year after the transfer of Sky Prime Aviation to PIF.

‘The Biden administration should apply US Global Magnitsky Act sanctions and travel bans on senior executives at the PIF based on the use of PIF planes to move Jamal Khashoggi’s Saudi assassins between Saudi Arabia and Turkey,’ said Sunjeev Bery, executive director of advocacy group Freedom Forward. ‘It’s ridiculous that on one hand the PIF is providing travel support for Khashoggi’s assassins while at the same time doing business deals with Uber and other companies in Silicon Valley.'”






“Saudi sovereign wealth fund planes transported Khashoggi kill team,” Responsible Statecraft, March 3, 2021

“The role of PIF assets in the murder was made public in court documents filed in Canada as part of an embezzlement lawsuit brought by a number of Saudi-state owned companies against Saad Aljabri, a former top Saudi Intelligence official, who is currently in exile and previously claimed in a lawsuit filed in DC District Court that MBS attempted to send a kill team to murder him shortly after Khashoggi’s assassination.

‘The Biden administration should apply US Global Magnitsky Act sanctions and travel bans on senior executives at the PIF based on the use of PIF planes to move Jamal Khashoggi’s Saudi assassins between Saudi Arabia and Turkey,’ said Sunjeev Bery, executive director of advocacy group Freedom Forward. ‘It’s ridiculous that on one hand the PIF is providing travel support for Khashoggi’s assassins while at the same time doing business deals with Uber and other companies in Silicon Valley.'”






Saudi squeeze: why Biden’s boxed in by an ‘ally’,” Politico, March 1, 2021

“Arab activist Iyad el-Baghdadi, who himself has been the target of a Saudi “kill team” warns against ‘punishing dictators without assisting the societies they suppress.’ Sunjeev Bery, executive director of the advocacy group Freedom Forward, said in a statement that ‘The Saud ruling system that produced MBS has created vast levels of suffering and death.’ In other words: the real problem is not MBS, but the Saudi system.

 (Saudi Arabia is) an autocracy that juices the world’s addiction to fossil fuels with an extremely poor human rights record at home and abroad (take, for example, its current role in Yemen, which is pushing the country to the edge of the biggest famine in decades). As former deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes puts it: ‘why do we have an ally that murders journalists?’ The Saudis also gave us most of the 9/11 bombers, the ideology behind ISIS, and likely kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister in 2017.”






“Release of Khashoggi report sparks new push to punish Saudi crown prince,” Middle East Eye, March 1, 2021

“Far from placating the kingdom’s critics, the release of the official US assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘approved’ Khashoggi’s murder has emboldened human rights groups that had pushed for the report to be made public.

(Democracy for the Arab World Now) was Khashoggi’s brainchild, but it was only formally launched last year by his friends and former colleagues after he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.The organization is one of several working together to advocate for human rights in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East; others include Freedom Forward, led by Sunjeev Bery, a former advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA; and Freedom Initiative, led by US citizen Mohamed Soltan, a former political prisoner in Egypt.”






In letter, human rights NGOs urge Hamilton to boycott Saudi Arabian GP,” Grande Prêmio, February 28, 2021

“In recent years, the absolutist Islamic monarchy of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud has used sport to try to convey to the world an image of a country in transformation. It’s all part of the ‘Vision 2030’ plan, an initiative put forward in 2016 by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify the economy and develop sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.”








“NGOs ask Hamilton to boycott Saudi Arabia GP,” Terra, February 28, 2021

“The presence of Western sports in Saudi territory is the target of much criticism for serving as a kind of washing machine. Last year, on the eve of the Dakar Rally, the NGO Reporters Without Borders issued a note asking those involved in the dispute not to serve as propaganda. Amnesty International, for its part, has denounced constant violations and increased repression while sport is used as a propaganda tool. Despite international protests, Formula 1 introduced a race in Saudi Arabia to this year’s calendar.

In a long open letter, NGOs (including Freedom Forward) pointed out violations of women’s rights, denounced torture and recalled the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, murder in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Last week, the United States government released a report produced two years ago in which American intelligence concluded that Prince Bin Salman ‘approved the operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,’ who was considered ‘a threat to the kingdom.'”





“45 Human Rights and Foreign Policy Organizations Call on Formula 1 Star Lewis Hamilton to Speak Out Against the Saudi Government’s Human Rights Abuses,” Speedway Digest, February 23, 2021

“The letter thanks Hamilton for his dedication to human rights and issues of diversity in Formula 1. Hamilton was a vocal advocate for Black Lives Matter and expressed concern for Bahraini torture victims when the sport traveled to Bahrain in the 202 season.

Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, stated, ‘Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship is using sports and entertainment events in a desperate attempt to hide its horrifying human rights record from the world. As a voice for freedom, Lewis Hamilton should take a stand in support of the peaceful reformers and activists who are languishing in Saudi Arabia’s prisons. Hamilton should boycott the race until Saudi Arabia’s monarchy embraces reform.'”






“Saudi F1 race: Activists urge Lewis Hamilton to speak out on human rights,” Middle East Eye, February 22, 2021

“In a letter sent on Monday, a copy of which was shared with MEE, 45 groups urged the British driver (Lewis Hamilton) to ‘reconsider’ his participation in the race in Saudi Arabia, citing the kingdom’s ongoing war in Yemen, detention of women’s rights activists and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

‘For the first time in Formula One’s history, Saudi Arabia will be hosting a race in 2021. We think that this race is a key place to make a statement regarding human rights,’ the letter said.

Signatories to the letter included Code Pink, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Freedom Forward and International Service for Human Rights.”









“Yemen: Biden called on to cancel $ 36.5 billion in U.S. military support to warring parties,” Cairo Institute, February 17, 2021

“47 civil society organizations and 35 arms control and human rights experts – including Sunjeev Bery and Freedom Forward – have sent a public letter to U.S. President Biden on arms control and human rights protection in Yemen, commending his decision to end U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen, and urging him to prioritize the need for accountability.

The CSOs and experts identified 28 previously approved U.S. transfers of weapons and other military support to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that should be canceled in order to truly pursue peace and accountability in Yemen.”






“Saudi Arabia issues ultimatum to foreign companies to move regional HQs to kingdom,” Middle East Eye, February 16, 2021

“Saudi Arabia is to stop signing contracts with companies whose regional headquarters are based outside of the kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

‘The cessation will include agencies, institutions and funds owned by the government and will take effect on 1 January 2024.’

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, a group working to end US alliances with non-democracies, told Middle East Eye in January: ‘Businesses that partner with Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship are enabling a brutal government that uses its power to smash the democratic aspirations of people both inside and outside of Saudi Arabia’s borders.’”






“In Review, Biden Seeks New Balance in Saudi Ties,” The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2021

“The review of relations with the oil-rich kingdom is broader than has been reported. Along with arms sales and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, it includes an assessment of whether the U.S. has done enough to hold Saudi officials accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and other aspects of the two countries’ ties, U.S. officials said.”

‘It would be an absolutely terrible outcome if one year from now the Saudi monarchy returns to internal repression and anti-democratic external interventions simply because it comes to the conclusion that Western governments are turning the page,’ said Sunjeev Bery, executive director of advocacy group Freedom Forward.”







“POMED and 80+ Organizations and Individuals Call on Biden Administration to Cancel Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE,” Project on Middle East Democracy, February 11, 2021

(From a letter signed by Freedom Forward and over 80 other organizations):

“Given Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s consistent disregard for both international and U.S. law, the administration should block all relevant weapons, equipment, training, services, maintenance, and other activities for their current military operations.

Based on publicly available information, we have identified $36.5 billion worth of sales, support services, and other assistance to these countries that would meet such ‘offensive operations’ criteria, which have been previously approved by the executive branch since 2017.”






“Moral Conundrum – Saudi’s Back With ‘Davos in the Desert,'” Politico, January 27, 2021

“The real name for this event is the Future Investment Initiative (FII) and the informal Davos labels attached to it by non-profits infuriate the World Economic Forum (which has nothing to do with it). Those labels hint at a broader point though: elite organizations and decision-makers mill in the same crowds and adopt similar approaches to the world. If, collectively, top bankers have amnesia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, non-profits see attaching collective shame to them as a way to force change.

Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, has been urging leaders not to attend: ‘I applaud the International Monetary Fund and CNBC, who recently confirmed that they would not attend.’”






Wall Street executives face criticism for returning to ‘Davos in the desert,” Middle East Eye, January 25, 2021

“Wall Street executives have been accused by rights groups of ‘enabling a brutal government’ by participating in Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) later this week, more than two years after many boycotted the conference over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A coalition of human rights organizations called on corporate executives to drop out of the event, dubbed ‘Davos in the Desert,’ which takes place in Riyadh and virtually on 27-28 January…

‘…Businesses that partner with Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship are enabling a brutal government that uses its power to smash the democratic aspirations of people both inside and outside of Saudi Arabia’s borders,’ Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, told Middle East Eye.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Al-Jazeera-Logo-1024x576.png

“Saudi Arabia’s G20 faces global controversy,” Al Jazeera, November 21, 2020

“Saudi Arabia’s dire rights document looms over G-20 summit,” Post of Asia, November 20, 2020

“When world leaders collect nearly for the Group of 20 summit this weekend, they’ll achieve this regardless of a months-long marketing campaign from activists urging contributors to boycott the annual occasion or danger sidelining calls to handle Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights document.  

‘We’ve seen a broad rejection of the Saudi G-20,’ stated Sunjeev Bery, the manager director of rights group Freedom Forward. ‘It speaks to the incredible discontent that many officials have with their own governments’ relationships with this particularly brutal government.’

Bery, whose group campaigns for the United States to sever ties with nondemocratic governments, referred to as the current advocacy ‘just the beginning’ of a multiyear effort to amplify various voices inside Saudi society and the exile group.” 

“Saudi Arabia’s dire rights record looms over G-20 summit,” Al-Monitor, November 19, 2020

“For Saudi Arabia, the first Arab country to ever host the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies, the G-20 is an opportunity to showcase recent social and economic reforms. For human rights campaigners, it’s a venue for attempted image-laundering. 

‘We’ve seen a broad rejection of the Saudi G-20,’ said Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of rights group Freedom Forward. ‘It speaks to the incredible discontent that many officials have with their own governments’ relationships with this particularly brutal government.’

Bery, whose organization campaigns for the United States to sever ties with nondemocratic governments, called the recent advocacy ‘just the beginning’ of a multiyear effort to amplify diverse voices within Saudi society and the exile community.”




“35 Orgs Endorse Rep. Castro for HFAC Chair,” Win Without War, November 16, 2020

“Today, 35 organizations representing millions of people across the United States sent a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voicing their support for Rep. Joaquin Castro’s (D-TX) candidacy for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). 

‘It is time for a clean break with the Trump years of reckless military support to brutal monarchies like the destructive dictatorships that rule Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,’ said Freedom Forward Executive Director Sunjeev Bery. ‘Rep. Castro has demonstrated a clear willingness to chart a new course when it comes to the question of who the United States gives its military support to, and that’s why he should be America’s next Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.’“






“Saudi Arabia’s human rights record casts a long shadow on this year’s G20,“ Responsible Statecraft, November 2, 2020

(Article authored by Freedom Forward executive director Sunjeev Bery)

“New opposition is emerging to the Saudi G20 here in the United States as well. Led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), 45 members of Congress are calling on the Trump administration to demand dramatic human rights reforms from the Saudi monarchy or drop out of the Saudi G20 summit if the monarchy refuses. In an emotional  press conference we organized with Schakowsky and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), American and Saudi women revealed their own struggles with Saudi state discrimination and violence against women and their families.

Saudi Arabia’s ruling elites will soon learn that the only exit strategy from global isolation is one that involves embracing human rights and democracy. The old Saudi strategy of glitzy events and international convenings has backfired spectacularly amidst a rising tide of global boycotts and demands for change. These trends will only intensify, as will the pressure for this monarchy to finally end its unceasing brutality.”





“Feminists Urge Pompeo to Withdraw U.S. from G20 Summit Hosted by Saudi Arabia,” Ms. Magazine, October 27, 2020

(Article authored by Freedom Forward executive director Sunjeev Bery)

“In a press briefing, U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) unveiled a letter signed by 45 Members of Congress and delivered to the Department of State calling on the Trump administration to stand up for women who are facing torture, forced separation from their children, arbitrary detention and more in Saudi Arabia. (Watch the emotional video here.)

‘Question the situation of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. All the reforms that are happening today in Saudi Arabia will touch only people that have supportive families, because there are many other laws that contradict what the reforms are doing. So even if they are saying they are easing the male guardianship system, for other women it is still applicable. And if they stopped Loujain because she tried to help to improve the situation, they will do it again and again,’ declared Alia AlHathloul, whose sister Loujain Alhathloul is currently detained in a Saudi prison, where she has been subjected to torture for her human rights work.“

“Citing rights abuses, House Democrats push administration to snub Saudi-hosted G-20 summit,” Al-Monitor, October 22, 2020

“As Saudi Arabia gears up to host the Group of 20 next month, a group of House Democrats is urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw the United States from the annual summit in protest of the kingdom’s dismal human rights record.

A letter signed by more than 40 members of Congress describes Saudi Arabia as ‘an unfit and inappropriate’ host and calls on Pompeo to make progress on human reforms a condition for US participation in this year’s meeting of major world economies.”

“Congress urges US government to boycott Saudi G20 summit due to human rights concerns,” The Telegraph, October 22, 2020

“Forty-five members of the House of Congress have urged the US government to boycott November’s G20 summit in Saudi Arabia unless the Kingdom addresses concerns over human rights.”






“Dozens of legislators urge US to boycott Saudi Arabia-hosted G20,” Al-Jazeera, October 22, 2020

“Jan Schakowsky and Ilhan Omar, Democratic members of the US House of Representatives, were among the 45 lawmakers who signed the letter, which was supported by advocacy group Freedom Forward.

Sixty-five members of the European Parliament have also signed a letter calling for the EU to downgrade its attendance at the virtual G20 meeting.”







“Middle East Monitor: US lawmakers urge boycott of Saudi G20 summit,” Middle East Monitor, October 22, 2020

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the 45 Congress members said that, ‘As the world’s leading democracy and purveyor of human rights [sic], our government should demand dramatic changes to Saudi Arabia’s dismal record of human rights violations.’

They urged the Trump administration to boycott the summit unless Saudi Arabia addresses its human rights violations and implements reforms. ‘Should the Saudi government fail to take immediate steps to address this record,’ they insisted, ‘we should withdraw from the Saudi-led G20 summit and commit to making human rights reforms a condition of all future dealings with Saudi Arabia’s government.'”






“45 lawmakers urge US to boycott Saudi-hosted G20,” France 24/Associated Press, October 21, 2020

“‘Should the Saudi government fail to take immediate steps to address this record, we should withdraw from the Saudi-led G20 summit and commit to making human rights reforms a condition of all future dealings with Saudi Arabia’s government.’

Jan Schakowsky and Ilhan Omar, Democratic members of the US House of Representatives, were among the 45 lawmakers who signed the letter, which was supported by advocacy group Freedom Forward.”





“Rep. Ilhan Omar, other lawmakers seek US boycott of G20 summit in Saudi Arabia,” Fox News, October 21, 2020

“Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., joined with family members of imprisoned activists to call on the Trump administration Wednesday to stand up for women and those who have been detained, tortured and killed by Saudi Arabia, including writer Jamal Khashoggi.

‘If we are to be the nation that stands for human rights, for justice and for accountability, then it is critical that the United States withdraw its full participation in this year’s G20 as long as it is being hosted by the Saudi Arabians and in Riyadh,’ Schakowsky said.”

Schakowsky Leads 45 Members of Congress in Calling on Sec. Pompeo to withdraw United States from G20,” Schakowsky House Website, October 21, 2020

“Today U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) unveiled a letter signed by 45 Members of Congress and delivered to the Department of State calling on the Trump Administration to stand up for women who are facing torture, forced separation from their children, arbitrary detention and more in Saudi Arabia. The letter comes as the Saudi-hosted ‘W20’ women’s summit began virtually in Riyadh. The Congresswomen joined advocates and family members of jailed Saudi dissidents to unveil their demand that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo withdraw from the G20 summit unless its Saudi hosts substantively address systemic women and human rights abuses.

With the Congressional letter, led by Rep. Schakowsky and supported by Freedom Forward and a coalition of NGOs, the 45 Congressional co-signers join a growing global campaign pushing for accountability around the Saudi-hosted G20. In recent weeks, the mayors of London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris boycotted the U20; the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to downgrade the EU’s participation in the G20; and Saudi Arabia was rejected in its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Just yesterday, Jamal Khashoggi’s widow joined with DAWN, which Khashoggi founded shortly before he was murdered, to file suit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in a U.S. court.”







“G20 women’s forum urged to press hosts Saudi on rights,” Reuters, October 21, 2020

“Rights groups want participants in a G20 women’s meeting starting in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to seek the release of detained female activists and call out the kingdom for its record on rights.”




“Saudi Arabia bid for UN Human Rights Council seat fails,” Brussels Morning, October 16, 2020

“Created by the UN General Assembly in 2006 to replace the previous Council on Human Rights, the UNHRC’s mandate is to examine human rights violations, make recommendations and establish international inquiries and fact-finding missions. 

‘The #HRC elections today delivered a stunning rebuke to #SaudiArabia under Mohammed bin Salman: only country not elected, shunned by a majority of the UN. The kingdom reaped what it deserves for its serious violations of human rights and war crimes abroad,’ Bruno Stagno, a deputy executive director at Human Rights Watch, tweeted, referring to the Saudi crown prince. 

‘Under Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the monarchy continues its downward slide into global isolation and irrelevance,’ Sunjeev Bery, executive director of the US foreign policy advocacy group Freedom Forward, said in a statement.”






“Saudi Arabia loses vote to stay on UN Human Rights Council; China, Russia and Cuba win seats,” CNBC, October 14, 2020

“The development after the kingdom’s two consecutive terms on the council, some analysts say, demonstrates the deterioration of its image on the world stage following high profile human rights scandals including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the detention of several women’s rights activists. 

‘Under Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the monarchy continues its downward slide into global isolation and irrelevance,’ Sunjeev Bery, executive director of American foreign policy advocacy group Freedom Forward, said in a statement. The group has managed to successfully convince the mayors of New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles to boycott Riyadh’s hosting of this year’s G-20 economic summit in November.”  




“China and Russia Win Human Rights Council Seats, but the Saudis Get Rejected,” Pass Blue, October 13, 2020 

“’Serial rights abusers should not be rewarded with seats on the Human Rights Council,’ Louis Charbonneau, the UN director at Human Rights Watch, warned at a media briefing last week. ‘China and Saudi Arabia have not only committed massive rights violations at home, but they have tried to undermine the international human rights system they’re demanding to be a part of.’

No tears were shed by rights activists for the Saudis’ loss. Sunjeev Bery, the executive director at Freedom Forward, a project that strives to end US alliances with nondemocratic governments, said of the results: ‘The latest UN Human Rights Council election reveals that more and more governments see Saudi Arabia’s monarchy as a human rights pariah that must be kept at arm’s distance.'”




“Sadiq Khan refuses to attend city mayors’ summit in Saudi Arabia,” The Guardian, September 30, 2020

“The campaign has been led by a group of mainly US-based activist organisations, including Codepink and Freedom Forward. A petition from Freedom Forward gathered 7,000 signatories.”






“London mayor Sadiq Khan boycotts G20 to avoid ‘any implication’ of support for Saudi government,” The New Arab, September 30, 2020.

“‘It has never been the Mayor’s intention to attend this U20 summit and his invite has previously been formally declined. No one is representing him at the summit or speaking on behalf of London,’ a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said to The New Arab on Wednesday.

This communication contradicts a petition started by Freedom Forward – which garnered over 8,000 signatures to urge him not to attend – where they said that the mayor’s office was listed as a participant to the event.”





“EXCLUSIVE: Sadiq Khan reverses decision to take part in Saudi G20 mayors summit,” Middle East Eye, September 30, 2020.

“‘Saudi Arabia’s government is an unfit and inappropriate host for the 2020 G20 summit and Urban 20 convening,’ the groups said in a joint statement.

‘As an absolute monarchy without any form of meaningful democratic representation, the Saudi government has a long record of silencing the very voices that are necessary for a meaningful global conversation regarding the massive challenges we collectively face.’

A petition set up by Freedom Forward, one of the co-signatories, urging Khan to boycott the event has received over 7,000 signatures.”





“Sadiq Khan to send official to Saudi summit as three major cities lead boycott,” Middle East Eye, September 29, 2020

“A representative from London will attend a Saudi-hosted summit this week, and the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan has chosen not to follow other global leaders and speak out about human rights concerns in the kingdom, Middle East Eye has learned. 

‘It is astonishing that London Mayor and Labour Party member Sadiq Khan is adopting the same posture of silence as the UK’s Conservative government regarding Saudi Arabia’s human rights crimes,’ Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward told MEE. 

‘Mayor Khan should end his silence and boycott the Saudi G20 mayor’s meeting. He should not be sending an observer to a Saudi event that is essentially a propaganda tool for a brutal monarchy that seeks to whitewash its many human rights crimes.'”





“New York City mayor boycotts summit in Saudi Arabia over rights concerns,” Middle East Eye, September 25, 2020

“Riyadh’s Urban 20 (U20) summit is being held as part of the kingdom’s chairmanship of this year’s G20. In addition to de Blasio, among those invited are London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Berlin Mayor Michael Muller, and Paris’s Anne Hidalgo, as well as the mayors of Los Angeles and Madrid.

Still, a coalition of 16 rights groups, including Action Corps, CodePink, Freedom Forward, the Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, Just Foreign Policy and the London-based ALQST, have all called on city leaders to rethink the event.” 

“New York mayor boycotts Saudi summit on Khashoggi anniversary,” Al-Monitor, September 25, 2020

“De Blasio’s announcement comes after a group of international campaign groups appealed in a joint letter last week to the mayors of nine global cities, including New York, to boycott the event.

‘Saudi Arabia’s government is an unfit and inappropriate host for the 2020 G20 summit and Urban 20 convening,’ said the letter signed by more than a dozen organisations including the Geneva-based MENA rights group and the London-based ALQST.”

Associated Press - Wikipedia







“De Blasio pulls out of upcoming summit in Saudi Arabia,” Associated Press, September 24, 2020.

“The Urban 20 summit is scheduled to run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. Human rights activists have urged de Blasio and several other city leaders to boycott over human rights concerns in that country, and point out Oct. 2 is the anniversary of the killing of Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.”





“Rights groups urge mayors of world capitals to boycott Saudi summit,” Middle East Eye, September 21, 2020

“A global coalition of human rights groups is calling on mayors of some of the world’s biggest cities to boycott a G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.”

The U20 is being held on the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Istanbul Saudi consulate in October 2018.

The coalition said that Saudi Arabia, ‘as an absolute monarchy without any form of meaningful democratic representation, has a long record of silencing the very voices that are necessary for a meaningful global conversation.'”




“Sadiq Khan urged to boycott Saudi-hosted G20 mayors summit,” The Guardian, September 20, 2020

“A letter sent to the seven mayors by a global coalition of human rights groups says the Saudi government is ‘as an absolute monarchy without any form of meaningful democratic representation has a long record of silencing the very voices that are necessary for a meaningful global conversation regarding the massive challenges we collectively face. Saudi Arabia’s brutal record has only intensified since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in 2017.

The signatories to the letter include Action Corps, Freedom Forward, the Geneva-based MENA Rights Group and the London-based ALQST, which was founded by Yahya Assiri, a former member of the Saudi air force.”







“World Trade Organisation urged to reject Saudi candidate for senior role,” Middle East Monitor, August 19, 2020.

“Some 18 pro-democracy and human rights groups, however, have written to the WTO urging the organisation to reject Riyadh’s candidate citing the kingdom’s human rights abuse and Al-Tuwaijri’s complicity and silence over its brutal repression.

‘Al-Tuwaijri has long been complicit in the Saudi government’s human rights violations and has chosen to remain silent on his government’s brutal record of repression,’ said the letter, urging WTO members to reject Riyadh’s candidate.”






“Khaled Al-Tuwaijri is a candidate for the position of Director General … and calls for human rights rejecting the whitewashing of Saudi violations,” (English translation), Nabaa TV (Arabic), August 19, 2020.

“The Executive Director of Freedom Forward, Sunjeev Bery, said that the presence of a representative of a corrupt and brutal monarchy on this site undermines his ambitions to enhance transparency in global trade.” (English translation)





“19 international organizations are calling for the rejection of Saudi Arabia’s candidate for the WTO,” (English translation) Al Sharq (Qatar/Arabic), August 18, 2020.

“19 organizations across the United States and Europe have urged member states of the World Trade Organization to reject the nomination of Saudi candidate Muhammad al-Tuwaijri for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organization, said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director of Freedom Forward.” (English translation)

“COVID-19 Is Pushing a Quarter of the Arab World to Poverty, UN Warns,” Vice News, July 27, 2020.

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for the United States to cut ties with developing world autocracies, said it was high time for Arab dictators to come good on their promises of reform.

‘The spread of coronavirus across the Middle East isn’t just a public health crisis — it’s a political crisis,’ Bery told VICE News.

‘The dictators who rule Egypt and Saudi Arabia have done much to devastate societies across the region, whether through corruption or war. It’s no coincidence that both dictatorships are top recipients of US military support. Without this Western backing, they might have been forced to change their behavior long ago.'”

the national uae

“Embattled Trump team cools on Netanyahu’s annexation bid,” The National, July 1, 2020.

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for looser US-Israeli ties, said the Trump administration was backtracking on Israel’s expansion plans in the face of ‘deep opposition’ among US voters.

‘Even within Trump’s evangelical base, there is significant ambivalence,” Mr. Bery told The National.

‘Given the Trump administration’s failure to address the coronavirus pandemic, along with so many other bruising headlines, it’s no surprise that the Trump team might be stepping back from a full embrace of Netanyahu’s latest brutal plan.'”

Freedom Forward Press Release: Congress Urged to Block New Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., June 18, 2020.

A coalition of organizations representing human rights, foreign policy, women’s rights, climate, and peace issues released a letter to Congress today urging senators and representatives to block all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and to fundamentally downgrade the U.S. relationship with both monarchies.

Click here for full release.

“Western firms complicit in the human cost of Saudi Arabia’s dystopian Neom megacity,” The New Arab, June 5, 2020.

Sunjeev Bery, director of the anti-autocrat campaign group Freedom Forward, said that Huwaitat tribespeople were among many Saudi groups to face everything from jail to torture and extrajudicial executions for getting in the way of the crown prince’s agenda.

‘Mohamad bin Salman uses his Western business relationships to hide the underlying brutality of his vision,’ Bery, another signatory to the letter of complaint, told TNA.

‘Western businesses like McKinsey and BCG will face increasing reputational costs if they continue to ally themselves with a monarchy that jails or kills everyone who criticizes its decisions.’”

“How Saudi Arabia is using G20 talks to hide its terrible record on women’s rights,” The New Arab, May 7, 2020.

“’Saudi Arabia’s PR army has worked hard to silence any serious talk about women’s rights and human rights at the G20,’ Sunjeev Bery, director of the anti-autocrat campaign group Freedom Forward, told TNA.

‘This is all about the Saudi monarchy parading itself under the global spotlight and dodging questions over its abysmal record on basic freedoms.’

Bethany Alhaidari, a women’s rights campaigner at Freedom Forward, described Saudi as one of the ‘world’s worst places to be a woman’ and blasted the W20’s ‘silence on women’s human rights’ in the conservative petro-monarchy.

‘Peaceful women’s rights activists and some of Saudi Arabia’s greatest heroes and reformers are sitting and literally dying in prison,’ Alhaidari told TNA.

‘To go there for the G20 and engage with this government like everything is normal is ridiculous.’”

“How we can expose the Saudi dictatorship and blunt its public relations campaigns,” Responsible Statecraft, April 14, 2020

(Written by Freedom Forward’s Sunjeev Bery)

In recent weeks, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has faced a new round of negative publicity over its partnership with MiSK, the private foundation of Saudi dictator Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). In the latest headlines, UNESCO sought to distance itself from alleged Saudi spy Ali Alzabarah, a MiSK official who faces trial in absentia in the United States for allegedly spying for Saudi officials while employed by Twitter.

The recent news offers insights into MbS’s ongoing strategies to build power. Through MiSK and other efforts, MbS is attempting to build an aura of legitimacy in the public arena while continuing his tactics of repression at home and abroad. Sometimes, MbS is even employing the same people to do both.

national-interest-logo

“Progressives Laud Coronavirus Ceasefire In Yemen,” The National Interest, April 10, 2020.

“’A cessation of hostilities in Yemen can only be a first step,’ the Thursday letter from fifty-nine organizations said. ‘Yemenis need a durable ceasefire, a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement to the current conflict, unencumbered access to humanitarian aid and commercial imports, and accountability for the violations all sides have committed during this war.’

Freedom Forward, a group that works to end U.S. alliances with undemocratic governments, signed the letter, as did its sponsor, the progressive Center for International Policy.”

“Ahead of G20 ‘virtual meeting’, Saudi bashed for reckless oil price war and coronavirus response,” The New Arab, March 25, 2020.

Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, an anti-autocrat campaign group, said the young Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was a ‘terrible host’ for tackling the pandemic.

‘The Saudi ruler is an extraordinarily reckless individual who risks making the global coronavirus pandemic even worse,’ Bery told The New Arab.

‘He has already destroyed Yemen’s ability to withstand the coronavirus through his endless bombardment and blockades. Now, he is adding to the instability of the global economy by launching an oil price war with Russia.’”

“Don’t let the Saudis use coronavirus concerns to hide their crimes,” Sunjeev Bery and Ben Freeman, Responsible Statecraft, March 24, 2020.

“While the world absolutely needs much better international coordination in response to this catastrophic pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s ruling family is one of the last governments we should want convening a conversation on solving any humanitarian crisis, let alone a crisis of this magnitude.”

“What Democrats Traded for Impeachment,” Sunjeev Bery, Responsible Statecraft, January 3, 2020.

“Democratic leaders have made a terrible trade. In return for clean headlines on impeachment, congressional Democrats gave Donald Trump his full wish list for war …  While House Democrats declared Trump ‘a threat to national security’ in articles of impeachment, they gave Trump most of what he wanted on the big questions of war.”

“US-Saudi downplay Florida terror shooting as ties scrutinised,” The New Arab, December 11, 2019. 

Sunjeev Bery, director of the anti-autocrat campaign group Freedom Forward, said that despite the headlines from Pensacola, lawmakers from both parties were pushing ahead with a defence spending bill that permitted ongoing arms sales for Saudi to use in Yemen.

‘While many people across the US deeply dislike the Saudi dictatorship, US politicians in Washington DC continue to back this brutal government,’ Bery told The New Arab.

‘It’s an extreme example of how defence lobbyists, military planners, and feckless politicians ignore the perspectives of the American people when it comes to US alliances with dictators.’”

2560px-Le_Monde.svg

“Emotion à l’Unesco après l’invitation à Paris d’une fondation caritative saoudienne”, Le Monde, November 18, 2019.

MISK is a propaganda platform for the Saudi dictatorship. It is linked to spying on Twitter accounts of opponents of the Saudi regime and to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is not merely a foundation, and UN institutions should not collaborate with it.”  — Sunjeev Bery of Freedom Forward, as translated from French article.

2560px-Le_Figaro.svg

“L’Unesco épinglée pour ses liens avec une fondation créée par le prince saoudien MBS,” Le Figaro (France), November 18, 2019

“…a Saudi foundation is taking part this week in the 11th Youth Forum at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Although the participation of the MiSK foundation is limited to a single ‘young leader of tomorrow,’ the origins of this institution, its political role and the controversial personality of its secretary general cause a stir within the constellation of the United Nations.

Created by Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman (known as MBS), MiSK, which wants to ‘promote world peace and provide opportunities in education, culture and science,’ is the flagship of the public relations campaign orchestrated by MBS , whose image was severely damaged by the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 at the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.”

200px-Rfi_logo.svg

“L’Unesco reçoit à Paris une fondation saoudienne dirigée par un proche de MBS,” Radio France Internationale (France), November 18, 2019

“It is very surprising that Unesco has a multi-year framework agreement with the same MiSK organization which is at the heart of so many prosecution cases. We don’t know yet if Unesco will make the right decision and cut its ties with this fake charity of the Saudi dictatorship, or if they will pretend that everything is normal

  • Sunjeev Bery, excerpt from radio interview

2560px-Daily_Telegraph.svg

“Unesco under fire for hosting Saudi crown prince’s personal charity at Paris ‘youth’ forum,” The Telegraph (UK), November 11, 2019

“Rights groups were up in arms on Tuesday at the presence of a youth ‘charity’ at a Unesco event in Paris with close ties to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and run by a figure linked to a dissident espionage case in America.

Some 6,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the UN body based in the French capital to ‘end its partnership’ with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), the Saudi crown prince’s personal charity.

‘It’s about time that all UN bodies abandoned MiSK for good,’ said Sunjeev Bery of Freedom Forward, which launched the online petition.”

2560px-Diario_ABC_logo.svg

“La Unesco, acusada de ofrecer ‘cobertura’ a una fundación de represión política en Arabia Saudí,” ABC (Spain), November 11, 2019

“The non-governmental organization Freedom Forward (FF) accuses UNESCO, the United Nations Organization for Culture, of giving MISK ‘cover’ and ‘a platform for propaganda and repression’ of the Saudi Arabian regime.

Sunjeev Bery, executive director of FF, has spent many years denouncing cases of corruption and ‘dangerous relationships’ between US diplomacy and racist dictatorships and regimes.

Bery comments on the relations between MISK and UNESCO in this way: ‘This Saudi organization is the cover of a propaganda platform at the service of Saudi Arabia. It has been used to spy on and repress young Saudis who have had the ‘boldness’ to express themselves freely on Twitter and other social media. By accepting their donations, offering its cover as an institution devoted to the defense of culture, UNESCO becomes an accomplice in the police and religious repression of the Saudi regime.”

“Meet the Saudi mastermind behind the Twitter spy scandal,” The New Arab, November 8, 2019

“‘Scratch beneath the surface of Asaker’s Misk and you quickly realise that it’s not really what it claims to be,’ Sunjeev Bery, director of the United States-based anti-autocrat campaign group Freedom Forward, told The New Arab.

‘The crown prince and his henchmen keep trying to present themselves in a positive light, yet behind the scenes they spy on dissidents’ Twitter accounts and are willing to take a bone saw to anyone who disagrees with them.'”

Logo_du_journal_Le_Soir.svg

“Arabie Saoudite: une sulfureuse fondation de MBS invitée à un forum de l’Unesco à Paris,” Le Soir (Belgium), November 8, 2019

“Times are tough for Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of the Saudi kingdom. Since the assassination of opponent Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 in Istanbul by a commando from Riyadh, the doors are closing and foreign support is becoming scarce. Eager to restore his image, ‘MBS’ plays on his fortune and his interpersonal skills to give a more flattering image of him and his country. On September 23 in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, a petition of 7,000 signatures driven by NGOs got the better of the special evening organized at the New York Public Library (NYPL) by its charitable foundation Misk.”

“Cameron, Will.i.am and the elite financiers at ‘Davos in the Desert,’” Middle East Eye, October 30, 2019

“Speaking to Public Radio International, Sunjeev Bery, executive director for Freedom Forward, said: ‘The ‘Davos for Dictators’ agenda is a case study in mass hypocrisy.’ 

‘There are event panels on food security, women in the workplace, and global sustainability.’

‘Meanwhile, the Saudi dictatorship starves Yemeni civilians, jails women’s rights activists and Saudi Aramco is the largest contributor to fossil fuel emissions on the planet,’ said Bery, who launched an online petition to dissuade Kushner and other Trump administration officials from attending the event.”

Worldstacked

“Saudi ‘Davos’ turnout underscores costs of Khashoggi murder,” PRI’s The World, October 28, 2019

“’European politicians and tech companies are keeping their distance, but the Trump administration, China and the world’s populists and authoritarians can return,’ Eckart Woertz, director of the Hamburg-based GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies, told The World. ‘MBS is halfway in from the cold, but not completely.’

But to human rights campaigners like Freedom Forward executive director Sunjeev Bery, that is just spin for a regime that killed Khashoggi, jailed other dissidents and bombs civilians in neighboring Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition seeks to restore a toppled government.“

logo

“One Year After Khashoggi’s Brutal Murder: Business as Usual?” Common Dreams, October 1, 2019

“On the heels of Khashoggi’s death, businesses, embarrassed by their Saudi connections, started pulling out of deals. Dozens of companies and notables, from the New York Times to Uber CEO to the head of the World Bank, decided to skip the major annual Saudi Future Investment Initiative, also known as Davos in the Desert. Talent agent Endeavor returned a $400 million investment from Saudi Arabia…

At the behest of groups including the Human Rights Foundation, singer Nicki Minaj canceled her performance in Saudi Arabia, citing concerns about the treatment of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression. Freedom Forward was successful in getting the New York Public Library to cancel its “Youth Forum” with MbS’s charity, the Misk Foundation.”

Worldstacked
“Saudi ‘Youth Forum’ at New York public library canceled after activists’ outcry,” PRI’s The World, Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

“‘This is an important moment for us.’ Bery is with Freedom Forward, the group that started the petition that led to the cancellation of the event at the New York Public Library. ‘Even though the Saudi dictatorship still technically had an event in New York, it was an event that was a far cry from what they intended. Multiple speakers dropped out, and they were even dropped by the United Nations itself.’”

Protesters demand ‘Justice for Jamal’ outside MBS charity event,” Al Jazeera, September 23, 2019.

“‘Step by step, we are going to shut down the Saudi dictatorship’s propaganda machine in the US,’ said Sunjeev Bery, director of the anti-autocrat campaign group Freedom Forward, who organised the petition.

‘No public institution or private business should be helping the Saudi dictatorship in any way with its efforts to wash away its crimes in Yemen, its imprisonment of activists, and its murder of Jamal Khashoggi,’ he told Al Jazeera.”

gothamist

“NYPL Cancels Event Co-Hosted By Saudi Crown Prince’s Charity, Following Outcry,” Jake Offenhartz, Gothamist, Sept. 18, 2019″

“’The NYPL should never have agreed to host the Saudi dictator’s fake charity to begin with, and certainly not while the Saudi monarchy is slaughtering thousands in Yemen,’ Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, a human rights group, told Gothamist.

‘But it is good news that they are finally backing away from this dumpster fire of an event,’ he added. ‘Libraries should never play host to bloody dictators and their propaganda.’”

“Why is New York’s most famous library getting into bed with the Saudi crown prince?” Annia Ciezadlo and Matthew Zadrozny, The Guardian, September 18, 2019.

“‘It’s no coincidence that the Saudi monarchy is pulling this PR stunt while Congress is on the verge of passing legislation that would cut off US arms sales for Saudi Arabia’s bloody war in Yemen,’ said Sunjeev Bery, executive director of Freedom Forward, a human rights organization that started an online petition calling on UN and business leaders to drop out of the forum. ‘When a dictator identifies and affiliates themselves with an American library, they are taking one step toward obscuring the fundamental nature of their tyranny.’”

logo_IPS-2

Petition and Critics of Khashoggi Killing Heap Pressure on U.N.-Saudi Event” James Reinl, Inter Press Service, September 18, 2019

Sunjeev Bery, director of Freedom Forward, which launched the petition, said bin Salman should be blackballed over Khashoggi’s killing, Saudi-led military operations in Yemen’s civil war and other human rights abuses.

‘The trustees of the New York Public Library should not allow a brutal Saudi dictator to use their space for a propaganda event. Thousands of people are now demanding that this bogus Saudi event be canceled,’ Bery told IPS.

‘Many Saudi citizens are imprisoned or executed for saying the very things that are written in thousands of New York Public Library books. How can the NYPL trustees possibly justify allowing a Saudi dictator to use their space?’”

UN_emblem_blue.svg

Video @ 7:30: “Daily Press Briefing,” United Nations, September 10, 2019, New York, U.S.A.

Journalist James Reinl questioned Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, regarding Freedom Forward’s campaign to stop a New York event by Saudi Arabia’s ruling crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and his private foundation.  Starts at minute 7:30.

“Two speakers drop out of controversial UN event co-hosted with MBS’s charity,” Middle East Eye, September 10, 2019.

“On Tuesday, Freedom Forward, a group that campaigns against authoritarian governments, launched an online petition that blasted the UN and the speakers for cooperating with MBS’s foundation. By Tuesday afternoon, the petition had garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

‘No one should partner with Saudi Arabia’s brutal dictator while he slaughters children in Yemen,’ the petition says. ‘VIPs and UN officials must drop out of the Saudi dictatorship’s so-called youth event in New York on 9/23.’”

logo_IPS-2

“U.N. Criticised for Link-up with Saudi Prince MBS,” Inter Press Service, September 4, 2019

“On Tuesday, Sunjeev Bery, director of Freedom Forward, became the latest leader of a campaign group to press the U.N. to cancel the Sept. 23 event, saying it would help repair bin Salman’s reputation over the Khashoggi murder…

‘No one — especially not the U.N. — should be partnering with MBS or his personal Misk Foundation,’ Bery told IPS … ‘The crown prince and his violent government must be held accountable for their human rights crimes,’ said Bery, who advocates for the U.S. to cut ties with Saudi Arabia and other authoritarian regimes.

‘Instead, misguided U.N. staff are absurdly giving the crown prince a public relations platform as he attempts to wipe away the blood of so many dead Yemeni children.'”

“COVID-19 Is Pushing a Quarter of the Arab World to Poverty, UN Warns,” Vice News, July 27, 2020

“Sunjeev Bery, the executive director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for the United States to cut ties with developing world autocracies, said it was high time for Arab dictators to come good on their promises of reform.

‘The spread of coronavirus across the Middle East isn’t just a public health crisis — it’s a political crisis,’ Bery told VICE News.

‘The dictators who rule Egypt and Saudi Arabia have done much to devastate societies across the region, whether through corruption or war. It’s no coincidence that both dictatorships are top recipients of US military support. Without this Western backing, they might have been forced to change their behaviour long ago.’”

newsweek-vector-logo
Nicki Minaj Praised for Pulling Out of Saudi Arabia Concert After Furious Online Backlash,” Newsweek, July 9, 2019

 

“Jeffrey Smith, founding director of Vanguard Africa, and executive director of Freedom Forward Sunjeev Bery also applauded Minaj …”

 
2560px-TRT_World_logo.svg

“NYU rabbi faces campus backlash over UAE posting,” TRT World, May 27, 2019

Sunjeev Bery, director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for Washington to cut ties with foreign autocrats, said the rabbi ‘risks being used by a brutal monarchy that is perfectly willing to work with’ terrorists in its Yemen campaign.

‘The UAE is likely using the strategy of faith-washing to hide its human rights atrocities behind a wall of interfaith public relations,’ Bery told TRT World. ‘The question is whether or not Rabbi Sarna’s vision of faith and religion embraces human rights or remains silent in the face of the UAE’s brutality.’”

“Are tensions between US, Gulf allies and Iran coming to a head? Al Jazeera, May 15, 2019

Sunjeev Bery, director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for Washington to cut ties with foreign autocrats, said the deepening tensions were a wake-up call for Washington about how to pick friends in the Gulf.

‘Another US war in the Middle East would be catastrophic for the region and the Trump administration needs to put a leash on National Security Adviser John Bolton, the biggest advocate for a conflict that no smart policymaker wants,’ Bery told Al Jazeera.

‘Instead of hyperventilating about Iran, the US should cut ties with allies like Saudi and UAE, which fuel instability across the region with a bloody war in Yemen and support for military thugs in Libya and Sudan.’”

2560px-TRT_World_logo.svg

“Israel-UAE rapprochement event draws fire in Washington,” TRT World, May 14, 2019

Sunjeev Bery, director of Freedom Forward, which campaigns for Washington to cut ties with foreign autocrats, said the event was the latest example of prominent Gulf envoys sharing a stage in the US with pro-Israel stalwarts.

‘There’s a deepening alliance between the repressive monarchies of the Middle East and a repressive Israeli government, which essentially functions as a military dictatorship as far as Palestinians are concerned,’ Bery told TRT World.

‘This drawing closer of the brutal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration is bad news for anybody who’s concerned about communities in the Middle East being able to chart their own democratic paths forward.’”