December 7, 2018
An escalating crackdown on freedoms across the Gulf states has brought renewed international attention to the human rights situation in the region, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit which takes place in Riyadh on Sunday.
“2018 has been a particularly brutal year for peaceful human rights activists, journalists and dissidents in the Gulf states. The abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October shone a global spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record at home and in Yemen. All of the Gulf states gathering on Sunday have continued their suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly over the past year,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.
“Gulf leaders can no longer operate on the assumption that they have a carte blanche to treat their citizens like criminals whenever they express dissent without fear of any international repercussions.”
The GCC states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar – typically come together to discuss trade and security cooperation. Discussion of human rights has been noticeably absent from the agenda of past summits. It is unclear whether Qatar will attend Sunday’s summit in light of the ongoing rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain.
During 2018 the persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and other peaceful dissenters has escalated across the Gulf region. Torture, harassment, arbitrary detention, executions and unfair trials have been rife for years, and governments continue to use vaguely worded “counterterror” laws to intimidate critics into silence.
In the UAE, human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, attorney Mohammed al-Roken and academic Nasser bin Ghaith are all serving lengthy prison sentences simply for expressing their views peacefully. In Oman, human rights activists such as Saeed Jaddad and Mohammed al-Fazari have been driven into exile after years of persecution by the government.
December 7, 2018
“I will not be silenced.”
Defiantly proclaimed by Nasrin Sotoudeh in a letter from the depths of Iran’s notorious Evin dungeons, these words define the courageous life’s work of this Sakharov Prize heroine.
As Iran’s leading human-rights lawyer, Sotoudeh has defended dissidents and demonstrators, protesters and political prisoners, until she became a prisoner herself. She has worked tirelessly to challenge the regime’s mass domestic repression, to give voice to the voiceless, and in particular to protect the rights of women, who are often the first victims of human-rights abuses.
For this, Sotoudeh has been imprisoned by Iranian officials four times since 2010. This June, after being convicted in absentia, she was once again sentenced on trumped-up charges, this time to five years in prison. So for this UN Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 — marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — we must stand with Sotoudeh and all others targeted for giving expression to the vision and values embodied in the declaration.
Nasrin Sotoudeh represents both the ongoing struggle for women’s rights and the historical legacy of female activism in Iran. Although the women who took to the streets in protest of the Shah played a vital role in the success of the 1979 Revolution, the past 40 years have seen the use of state-sanctioned systematic discrimination and violence against women.
This UN Human Rights Day, speak out for this courageous woman