1-25-2012By Neil Hicks
International Policy Advisor
President Obama asserted in last night’s State of the Union address that the United States is a global leader.
He said that the United States “will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings” and that it “will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies…because tyranny is no match for liberty.”
We agree. But as the people of Egypt build a new government and as human rights defenders and NGO’s in Bahrain call for democratic reforms, tyranny continues.
We’ve seen a positive impact when the United States leads and it must do so more concretely in the Middle East. Last weekend, President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi to condemn SCAF’s recent violence against peaceful protesters and raids in NGO’s. He reminded him that an active civil society and respect for human rights are foundations for a stable democracy. We need more of this leadership.
In Bahrain, despite recommendations by its own Independent Commission of Inquiry, the monarchy continues to attack, harass, and detain human rights defenders who are calling for democratic reforms. Medics and peaceful protesters continue to receive unfair sentences in sham trials and international NGO’s—including Human Rights First—are denied entry to document abuses. Yet the United States remains silent on these abuses.
To lead in the Middle East, President Obama must give unequivocal support for human rights and democracy in Egypt and Bahrain. He must openly criticize attacks against NGO’s and human rights defenders in the region.