President Obama: Be on the Right Side of History in the Middle East

President Obama said at the State of the Union address that the United States is a global leader. He said that the United States “will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings” and that it “will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies…because tyranny is no match for liberty.”

Join Human Rights First in urging President Obama to address how the United States will seize unprecedented opportunities to advance human rights in the Arab world. Send a letter to President Obama and tell him to:

  • Give unequivocal support to civilian rule in Egypt. In recent months, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) conducted large-scale killings of peaceful protesters; raided international and local NGO’s in the country; incited hatred between Egyptians of different religious beliefs; and tried thousands of civilians before military courts. President Obama must use the State of the Union address to express full support to an immediate transition to civilian rule in Egypt.
  • Address ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain. Despite recommendations by its own Independent Commission of Inquiry, Bahrain continues to attack, harass, and detain human rights defenders who are calling for democratic reforms. The United States must use its relationship with the Kingdom to make sure that NGO’s and human rights defenders can operate freely.
  • Establish the Atrocities Prevention Board. President Obama created the Atrocities Prevention Board in 2011, which will have the ability to coordinate and implement effective interagency policies that can prevent mass atrocities. We are urging President Obama to appoint its members and publish the findings of the PSD-10 review.
  • Protect refugees and US-affiliated Iraqis.  The United States must not forget about the single or widowed women, LGBTI individuals, religious minorities, journalists, and others who continue to  face threats or violence, including Iraqis who worked with the United States or the U.S. media. President Obama must make sure that Iraqi refugees and others are resettled on an expedited basis instead of being left stranded in difficult and dangerous circumstances due to lengthy processing delays.

Human Rights First challenges the United States to live up to its ideals. In the continuing struggles in Egypt, Bahrain and the rest of the Arab world, we must be on the right side of history—on the side of democracy and human rights. Previous U.S. support to dictators in the Middle East for the sake of stability has only damaged the perception of the United States as a beacon.

President Obama should make clear to the people of Egypt, Bahrain, and the rest of our allies in the Middle East that that the United States fully support democracy in the region.

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Published on January 23, 2012

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