Joe Biden was urged to raise the status of three political prisoners in different countries when he visits the Middle East – as well as to demand action against every “unjust” person held in the region.
Relatives of political prisoners detained in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt-the man held in Cairo, Alaa Abdel El-Fattah, has joint UK-Egyptian citizenship-traveled to Washington DC, where they called to the U.S. leader to raise specific cases.
They also want Mr Biden to emphasize the issue of human rights in the region, something the US president has long promised he will do.
“Alaa Abdel El-Fattah has now suffered 1,000 days in detention, during which prison and security officials subjected him to a catalog of human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment, in retaliation for in his prominent role in the 2011 revolution, ”he wrote. Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Egyptian authorities know that Alaa is a symbol of resistance and freedom in Egypt and the wider region, and his continued unjust detention sends a shocking message to other activists.”
Saudi Arabia removes rainbow dress for promoting ‘perversion’
Even before he left the United States, Mr Biden’s scheduled visit this week was mired in controversy over human rights issues, and questions about whether he should even meet with some leaders.
When he campaigned for the presidency, Mr Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation,” after US intelligence saw that its powerful crown prince had ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Saudi Arabia vehemently denies the statement.)
Similarly, while the Biden administration allowed some Saudi officials, it did nothing to target crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS), when it was decided that he was destined to become a fixture in the Saudi state, and that the relationship of America the kingdom is much wider. than an individual.
As the U.S. faces rising fuel prices and general inflation, issues likely to be fatal to Democrats in the midterms, Mr Biden needs Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production, given sanctions Washington has imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
Today, Mr Biden is scheduled to travel to the region from July 13-16, where he will likely meet with half a dozen leaders, including the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
In particular, he will meet with MBS, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
“President Biden has vowed to center on human rights in his administration, including by promising to make Saudi Arabia“ they are paralyzed ”and hinting that Saudi officials“ must be held accountable ”for the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, ”said Project on Middle East Democracy, a DC-based non-profit.
“Prior to Biden’s trip, prominent human rights defenders with family members unjustly detained… urged President Biden to raise the cases of their families.”
In Washington DC, Democratic congressman Jim McGovern is hosting Lina al-Hathloul, Saudi human rights defender and sister of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, now released from prison but remains in under a travel ban; Maryam al-Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights defender and daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja; and Sanaa Seif, an Egyptian activist and filmmaker, and sister of Mr Fattah, a writer and blogger who went on hunger strike for 100 days.
Last week, a spokesman for the White House national security council was asked about Mr Biden’s visit and confirmed that he was likely to meet with MBS, when he travels to Saudi Arabia, and have a “bilateral meeting with King Salman and to his leadership team ”.
“The Crown Prince is on the leadership team, so the president will definitely see the Crown Prince in the context of larger bilateral discussions,” he said.
“Human rights remain central to President Biden’s policy and his foreign policy agenda. He has a strong belief in and leadership in our values, and he has never – even before becoming president – avoided making those values clear in his discussions with foreign leaders. “
Over the weekend, Mr Biden wrote the op-ed to Washington Post defending the decision to travel to Saudi Arabia.
“From the beginning, my goal was to reorient – but not break – relations with a country that has been a strategic partner for 80 years,” he wrote.
“Today, Saudi Arabia has helped to restore unity between the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, fully supported the ceasefire in Yemen and is now working with my experts to help stabilize oil markets in other OPEC producers. “
Mr Khawaja, 61, a Bahraini political activist, was sentenced to imprisonment in June 2011 following crackdown on pro-democracy protests against the Bahraini government.
Ms Hathloul, 32, was arrested in 2018 as part of a broader campaign for women to have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. In 2020, he was sentenced to five years; he was released in February 2021 but remains under a travel ban.
Mr Fattah, 40, was jailed for the second time in September 2019 amid Egypt’s democracy protests. He was convicted of “spreading fake news” and jailed for five years. He started a hunger strike in April
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