Top 5 Hypocrites at Mandela’s Funeral
At Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech in which he said “Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals” that “[t]here are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation… who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.”
But some of those countries who sent representatives are top United States allies that persecute those who dissent:
1. Bahrain –Ambassador to the UAE Mohammed bin Hamad Al Ma’awda
Ever since Bahrain’s democratic uprising began in February 2011, the regime has brutally cracked down on activists. Many prominent human rights defenders have been targeted and imprisoned, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former presidentand co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), currently serving a life sentence after being arrested in April 2011. Nabeel Rajab, current president of the BCHR, is serving the remainder of his 2-year sentence for Tweeting about the government’s prime minister and for participating in illegal gatherings. Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested for sitting on a highway in protest of her father’s detention. She was formally charged with disrupting traffic and insulting an officer and remains in prison today.
2. Pakistan – President Mamnoon Hussain
Many journalists that report on matters perceived as offensive or critical of the government are threatened, harassed, and intimidated by a host of actors, including members of Pakistan’s security and intelligence apparatus. One of the most notable cases was that of Umar Cheema, who was abducted in September 2010 by unknown assailants, stripped, beaten, and photographed in humiliating positions.
3. Saudi Arabia – Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Saudi Arabia has no elections, parliament, or political parties. King Abdullah and his family exercise unchecked power, and the kingdom remains one of the most repressive countries in the world, particularly for its 9 million female citizens, who are prevented from holding many jobs or driving and are considered as chattel under oppressive guardianship laws. Practicing any religion other than Islam is banned. Mohammad al-Qahtani is co-founder of the Saudi Arabian human rights organization Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and, in 2011, its leader before he was sentenced to ten years in prison on several charges relating to his peaceful activism.
4. Ethiopia – His Excellency Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister
Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe has been Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 2012 following the death of Meles Zenawi. Hailemariam was elected as the Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party. Prior to his rule the 2010 election, in which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party won a remarkable 99.6 percent of the vote, he closed down space for political dissent and independent criticism. The crackdown included attacks and arrests of prominent opposition figures, the shutting down of newspapers and assaults on journalists critical of the government. Eskinder Nega, a prominent Ethiopian journalist, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on in July 2012 under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 for publishing an online column critical of the use of the terrorism law to silence dissent and calling for the Ethiopian government to respect freedom of expression and end torture in the country’s prisons.
5. Uganda – His Excellency Yoweri Kagota Museveni, President
Museveni abolished term limits before the 2006 elections after nearly three decades in office and proceeded to launch legal attacks on independent journalists and harass opposition parties. NGOs have also documented numerous cases of unlawful detention and torture by the country’s Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force. Uganda came under international condemnation in 2010 for a proposed law, still pending, that would punish homosexuality with harsh sentences including the death penalty. The country’s most prominent gay rights activist, David Kato, was beaten to death in January 2011 just weeks after a popular tabloid published his photo along with the caption, “Hang Them.”
There regimes and other dictatorships are key allies of the United States. President Obama is right to criticize those who suppress dissent but his words are undermined by his administration’s support for repressive regimes that do just that.