A media storm blows up over Saudi Arabia

Which is the odd one out? Burma, Zimbabwe or Saudi Arabia?

The governments of all three countries have terrible human rights records. Weve written much about Burma in this blog of late, reflecting the media interest sparked by massive public protests. And youll need little reminding of Robert Mugabes appalling record in Zimbabwe too Im sure (if you do, check out the Guardians account of British Airways no longer flying to and from Harare ).

But what about Saudia Arabia? Amnesty International is extremely concerned at the extent and severity of human rights abuses. For a start, as in Burma and Zimbabwe, peaceful critics of the government have been subjected to prolonged detention without charge or trial and there are allegations of torture.

Saudi is the odd one out because, while you wont see Senior General Than Shwe or Robert Mugabe flying here for a state visit (the latter obviously not using British Airways), thats exactly what King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will be doing today. Weve issued a briefing to the media and are doing lots of interviews with TV and radio stations.

   

Were calling on the Prime Minister to use his meeting with the Saudi King to make absolutely clear that the extent and severity of human rights abuses in King Abdullahs country are totally unacceptable and reforms need to come quickly.

 

At least 124 people have been executed so far this year (more than three times as many as in 2006).   Click here to take action for a young woman sentenced to death for a murder committed when she was just 17 years old.

Of course, its not difficult to guess at why the UK Government treats Saudia Arabia differently from Burma or Zimbabwe.

 

The Independent covers the issues well , reminding us that Gordon Brown refuses to even attend the same summit as Mugabe. It says that he and the Conservative leader David Cameron, who has also just promised to put human rights at the heart of his foreign policy vision, have both refused to make a commitment to even mention human rights to the king.

If thats true, its hugely disappointing. All of this is too much for the Liberal Democrats acting leader Vince Cable, who as well as writing on the subject for the Independent, popped up on this mornings Today programme to explain why he has turned down his invitation to the Royal banquet. Though too short, more interesting is the interview with King Abdullah himself and BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpsons preamble about how he was told the King wouldnt be able to answer all his questions.

 

Just time to return to a story we mentioned on Friday. I have now had a chance to see the CIAs `Terrorbusters logo and its scandalous. Not just the fact that they felt the need to create the logo in the first place or, as pointed out by the Guardian, its Islamist slant, but also the fact that it is so bad. Looks like something a child with crayons has come up with.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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