“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.'”
“‘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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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.”
“‘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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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’.”
“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.”
“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 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 Sanjeev Bery, Executive Director of Freedom Forward.” (English translation)
“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.'”
“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.
“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 criticises its decisions.'”
“‘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.'”
“‘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.”
“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.'”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.'”
“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.
“‘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 Nationas itself.'”
“‘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.”
“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.”
“‘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 organizationthat 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.'”
“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?”
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.
“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.'”
“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.'”
“Jeffrey Smith, founding director of Vanguard Africa, and executive director of Freedom Forward Sunjeev Bery also applauded Minaj …”
“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.'”
“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.'”
“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.’”