For Immediate Release: March 11, 2011
Washington, DC – As uprisings continue throughout the Middle East, Human Rights First is weighing in with recommendations related to the following situations:
“Today, ahead of Secretary Clinton’s meeting with Libyan rebel representatives next week, President Obama stated that no option is off of the table with regard to U.S. response to the ongoing uprising in Libya. As President Obama continues to evaluate these options, his administration must make clear and be united in its commitment to keeping the human rights of Libyans at the center of America’s response. The United States must move forward with the implementation of policies that will send a clear message that it will not stand by in silence as Gaddafi’s continued hold on power threatens not only his own people, but to spread further instability to Tunisia, Egypt, and the entire region,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.
In Bahrain, a message for three human rights defenders to be “killed and liquidated” has circulated on social networking cites, including Facebook. The message names Mr. Mohammed Al Masqati and Mr. Naji Fateel of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and Mr. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a former director at Frontline Defenders. It refers to them as “traitors” and “heads of sedition and incitement.” The message also provides full personal identification details, including their names, photographs, ID card numbers, home address, place of employment, and telephone numbers, as well as the makes, models, year and registration plate of their cars.
“The U.S. government should immediately make clear that it expects the Bahranian authorities to protect these three human rights activists and other human rights defenders who may be at risk,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The Obama Administration has a responsibility to ensure that authorities in Bahrain do not allow those who claim to support them to use intimidation and threats to silence those with opposing views.”
Reports from Saudi Arabia indicate that officials resorted to gun fire, tear gas and intimidation to stifle a planned “day of rage” protest. Human Rights First today called on the Obama Administration to address the crackdown despite America’s strategic and economic ties with the Saudis. In a statement issued today, Human Rights First’s Dooley noted:
“The United States cannot play favorites and give allies that stifle dissent a pass. The Saudis are using many of the same crackdown techniques that the Obama Administration recently condemned in the wake of uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Following today’s violence, it has a responsibility to call on the leaders of Saudi Arabia to not block peaceful dissent and allow people to exercise their internationally recognized rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.“