Next week President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International has put together an e-mail campaign to urge President Obama to not only bring female personnel with him, but to speak up about women's rights and human rights in general.
Link to the Amnesty International page: here.
In case your link doesn't work, below is the text from the Amnesty International page:
This month, President Obama is going to
Saudi Arabia on what The New York Times called a "fence-mending" trip.
That’s the wrong approach.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned
from driving. Saudi Arabian women continue to face severe
discrimination and other restrictions in law and practice.
Tell President Obama to stand up for human rights while in Saudi
Arabia. Urge him to select a female Secret Service officer to be his
driver while in Saudi Arabia, meet with Saudi Arabian women who have
protested the driving ban, and meet with the family members of
imprisoned peaceful human rights activists.
Text of the e-mail petition you can sign on the link above:
I join Amnesty International in calling on you to take a strong stand for women's human rights when you visit Saudi Arabia this month. Please advocate for significant human rights reforms in your meetings with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and other Saudi Arabian officials.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving. This is part of a larger pattern of discrimination against women in law and practice. Not only that, but the overall human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is abysmal.
The government of Saudi Arabia is responsible for an ongoing crackdown against peaceful human rights defenders. In addition, migrant workers and ethnic and religious minorities face significant human rights violations as well. Anyone who speaks out against flaws in the system risks being branded a "terrorist" and tossed in a jail cell.
It is time for a powerful statement that will strengthen the ongoing efforts of both women human rights activists and other human rights defenders who are calling for change and reform.
I urge you to take the following public steps to show your support for human rights in Saudi Arabia:
- Select a female Secret Service officer to be your driver while in Saudi Arabia.
- Seek a meeting with Saudi Arabian women who have protested the driving ban.
- Seek a meeting with the family members of imprisoned peaceful human rights activists.
I also urge you urging to champion the following human rights reforms in your meetings in Saudi Arabia:
- Ending severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
- Ending torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Ending discrimination against women.
I'm concerned that the U.S. government has put geopolitics and oil ahead of human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations. Your upcoming visit is an opportunity to end this discrepancy.
Your personal support for human rights in Saudi Arabia is vital. While U.S. officials may have privately called for human rights reforms in the past, these efforts have failed to produce results. I urge you to take public action and directly advocate for reform to demonstrate that the United States is standing with Saudi Arabian human rights activists.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter.