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Issue #1778      May 24, 2017

Editorial

Trump in the decapitation kingdom

“All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, 12 March 2007, opening of the 4th Human Rights Council Session.

Article 55 of United Nations Charter includes: “Universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”

So it was that in September 2015 the UN appointed Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council to head an influential human rights panel.

“… Mr Faisal Bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was elected as Chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council.

“As head of a five-strong group of diplomats, the influential role would give Mr Trad the power to select applicants from around the world for scores of expert roles in countries where the UN has a mandate on human rights.”

Such experts are often described as the “crown jewels” of the HRC.

Thus, the “crown jewels” were handed to a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world, a country that has beheaded more people than ISIS, to be head of a key Human Rights panel.

In May that year, just prior to the appointment, the Saudi government advertised for eight extra executioners to “ … carry out an increasing number of death sentences, which are usually beheadings, carried out in public”.

It appears that no special qualifications are needed. The main function would be executing, but the job description “also involves performing amputations …”

The advert was posted on the website of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of the Civil Service.

And by June 15 that year Saudi executions reached 100 “far exceeding last year’s tally and putting (the country) on course for a new record” according to The Independent. The paper added that the Kingdom was set to beat its own grisly, primitive record of 192 executions in 1995.

The paper noted that: “ … the rise in executions can be directly linked to the new King Salman and his recently-appointed inner circle …”

In his speech on arriving in Saudi Arabia last week, US President Donald Trump outlined the underlying purposes of his visit – Syria and Iran:

“I stand before you as a representative of the American people, to deliver a message of friendship and hope,” he said. “That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.

“Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honour to God.”

Marking a planned escalation of war and invasion in the region, Trump announced:

“And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders – unique in the history of nations – is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.

“Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost US$400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

“This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a US$110 billion Saudi-funded defence purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defence companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.

“I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.”

And then onto Iran and Syria:

“But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three – safe harbour, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region.” And lest anyone conclude that the answer to that riddle was “USA”, he continued: “I am speaking of course of Iran.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

There followed reference to the current target for regime change, Syria:

“Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilising interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime – launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.”

You may recall that following the January 2015 death of the current King Salman’s half brother King Abbdullah. coalition of the willing countries Britain and Australia ordered flags flown at half mast, including at the Houses of Parliament and at Westminster Abbey, leading one British MP to question: “On the day that flags at Whitehall are flying at half-mast for King Abdullah, how many public executions will there be?”

Numerous reports cite torture as being widespread, despite Saudi having subscribed to the UN Convention Against Torture.

For more than two years, Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen – with no UN mandate – destroying schools, hospitals, homes, a hotel, public buildings, an Internally Displaced Persons camp, historical jewels, generating a trail of civilian death and destruction which may have amounted to war crimes, according to Amnesty International.

In Yemen, as elsewhere, US-supplied cluster bombs have been used: 117 states have joined the Convention to ban these lethal, indiscriminate munitions since December 2008. Saudi Arabia, of course, is not amongst them.

Saudi was also one of the countries which bombed Iraq in 2003, an action by the coalition of the willing now confirmed as based on lies and illegal. Further, Saudi is also ranked 164th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

And of course we are told that 19 of the hijackers of the plane that hit the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001 were Saudis – for which swathes from Afghanistan, Middle East and North Africa are still paying the bloodiest price for the “War on Terror”– whilst Saudi’s representatives stroll in to the light given off by the UN Human Rights body.

On the UN Human Right’s Council’s website is stated: “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.”

As Trump’s speech concluded: “Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.”

Next article – CPA solidarity with Sydney bus drivers

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