Washington Week on Human Rights: June 2, 2014

Top News

OBAMA TRAVELS TO EUROPE President Obama, accompanied by Secretary of State John Kerry, will travel to Europe this week just days after far-right extremist candidates made gains in European Parliament elections. The president’s agenda includes a stop in Poland, where he will mark the 25th anniversary of that nation’s first free election, as well as a speech in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. President Obama will then travel to Brussels for a G-7 meeting that will not include Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose role in Ukraine’s ongoing unrest led G-8 member nations to rescind his invitation.

GUANTANAMO Over the weekend, American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released in exchange for five prisoners held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Sgt. Bergdahl, the only U.S. soldier held by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan in 2009, is now at the U.S. military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, where he is being evaluated and questioned. The five Taliban detainees were released to Qatar, where they will remain for a year.

25th TIANANMEN SQUARE ANNIVERSARY Wednesday is the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, China’s violent crackdown against a seven-week student-led pro-democracy protest. Though the exact death toll from those attacks is unknown, George Washington University’s National Security Archive puts the number between 500 and 2,600 protestors – far more than the 246 China claims.  China’s crackdown against dissent continues today, including its continued jailing of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo.

SYRIAN ELECTIONS The Syrian government will hold elections tomorrow, a step the United Nations has urged it not to take. The vote will happen as 6.5 million people are displaced within Syria and another 3 million people have fled the country. Syria’s three year conflict has claimed approximately 150,000 lives. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad came to power 14 years ago in what many believe was a rigged election that followed his father’s death after 29 years as Syria’s leader.

Quote of the Week

“America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism — it is a matter of national security.  Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war.  Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods.  Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.”

President Obama during his commencement address at West Point

We’re Reading

According to the Wall Street Journal, a new study was released today by the American Bar Association and Arizona State University’s McCain Institute detailing the anti- trafficking policies of Fortune 100 companies. The study focused on 79 companies within the Fortune 100 that have global supply chains, and found that while nearly two-thirds of them have publicly available policies on human trafficking, only about half of the target group companies reference an element of international law or guidelines.

Mark Yost from the Houston Business Journal discusses the new Human Rights First office in Houston, Texas with Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. The office will provide free legal services for refugees seeking asylum and will also further the organization’s work on human trafficking. Find out more here.

Washington Blade reporter Michael Lavers wrote a piece that highlights the visit of Jamaican LGBT activist Angeline Jackson to Washington, D.C. with Human Rights First, where she met with policymakers and raised awareness of the culture of violence and discrimination faced by Jamaica’s LGBT community. Learn more here.

In an article for The Hill, Brian Dooley argues that Bahrain must not be considered a reliable ally of the United States, and that Congress should ask the king of Bahrain to explain why his government refuses to reform and insists on committing human rights abuses. Learn more here.

We’re Watching

On yesterday’s Meet the PressSecretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discussed the release of American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

On the Hill 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will markup the FY2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. 11AM, 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Developments in Ukraine.” Former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will testify. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Around Town

Monday June 2, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Treasury Department will host a discussion on “TFI@10: The Evolution of Treasury’s National Security Role,” marking the 10-year anniversary of the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. 8:40AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Hall, Washington, D.C.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) will host a forum on “Toward the Sisi Era: A New Page in U.S.-Egypt Relations?” The event will feature U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Egypt Marc Sievers (via videoconference from Cairo); Michele Dunne, senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Eric Trager, fellow at WINEP. 12PM, WINEP, 1828 L Street NW, Suite 1050, Stern Library and Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will hold a Military Strategy Forum on “Intelligence and National Security.” The event will feature  Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers; John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS; and Kathleen Hicks, director of the International Security Program at CSIS. 9AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on “The European Elections and the Future of Europe.” The event will feature Irish Ambassador to the United States Anne Anderson; British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott; Reza Moghadam, director of the European Department of the International Monetary Fund; Isabelle Kumar, reporter at EuroNews; Jacques Mistral, nonresident senior fellow at Brookings; and Kemal Dervis, director of global economy and development at Brookings. 2:15PM, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Falk Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) will host “Upcoming Elections in Bahrain: Can the Stalemate Be Broken in Time?” The event will feature  Matar Ibrahim Matar, Former Member of Parliament, National Assembly of Bahrain; Dr. Dafna H. Rand, Deputy Director of Studies & Leon E. Panetta Fellow, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Moderator: Stephen McInerney Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). 10AM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) will hold a discussion on “Battling al Qaeda: Is the United States winning?” The discussion will feature Clint Watts, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and president of Miburo Solutions Inc.; Mary Habeck, senior fellow at FPRI; and Katherine Zimmerman, senior analyst at AEI. 2PM, AEI, 1150 17th Street NW, Wohlstetter Conference Center, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

The National Archives and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress will hold a discussion on “The Role of Congress in International Crises.” The event will feature former House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.; former Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.; former Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn.; former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry; and Bob Woodward, associate editor at the Washington Post. 7PM, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, McGowan Theater, Washington, D.C.

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Published on June 2, 2014


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