Under The Radar: Obama Refused to Talk Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

Under The Radar: Obama Refused to Talk Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

US President Barack Obama left Riyadh (March 29) apparently without raising human rights issues during talks with Saudi officials. The trip came at a time when Saudi Arabia has scaled up its persecution of peaceful dissidents and human rights activists – including one who is expected to receive a long prison sentence next week; deported thousands of undocumented migrants who have been detained in terrible conditions; and continues its systematic discrimination against women. Although billed as a “fence-mending” trip, it is hard not to wonder what it would take for Obama – or any senior US official – to shed some light on these pervasive abuses.

Following President Obama’s meeting with Saudi King Abdullah on the following Friday, reporters asked a senior administrative official whether Obama had raised human rights issues. The official replied, “The focus of the meeting was strategic and regional topics.” When pressed for a yes or no, the official said, “no.”

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