Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amnesty Weighs In on Saudi Arabia — But Why Now?


Here’s an interesting epilogue on the Human Rights Watch funding scandal I mentionedearlier this week. Just a few weeks after it was first revealed that HRW has been raising funds from the Saudi regime and advertising itself as overtly anti-Israel, and just a few days after this burst into the public awareness, its biggest competitor, Amnesty International, has distanced itself from HRW by releasing a blistering 65-page report on the practice of torture and other severe human-rights abuses taking place in Saudi Arabia. According to Amnesty’s press release:

Thousands of people have been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy, while others have been killed in uncertain circumstances. Hundreds more people face secret and summary trials and possible execution. Many are reported to have been tortured in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction.

Every once in a while, the free market overtakes the internationalists: Amnesty and HRW are presumably in permanent and intense competition for donations, and Amnesty cannot be blamed for seizing the opportunity to pull away HRW donors who were duly shocked by the Saudi scam. Amnesty is commended for singling out abuse in Saudi Arabia. Yet we cannot help but notice Amnesty’s almost total silence on Saudi Arabia prior to May of this year — even though there is nothing at all new about the kingdom’s record, as Amnesty’s own report makes clear.

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