Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia disappointed human rights activists

For almost two years, I was stuck with my daughter Under repressive laws in Saudi Arabia that give preference to men over women, and discriminate on the basis of identity and belief.

As a human rights researcher in Saudi Arabia, I witnessed my Saudi colleagues and heroes being detained, disappeared, tortured and even killed for expressing their views and supporting human rights Gone.

i will never forget a sense of relief I felt it after years of living in fear on December 15, 2019, as I boarded a flight back home to Washington state. As we descended to reveal the Space Needle, when the clouds cleared, I finally felt safe, free, and equal under the law.

Recently, this sense of security has been shaken, when President Joe Biden confirms his intention to visit Saudi Arabia From 13-16 July. He is expected to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is convicted of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

So affected by Saudi Arabia’s repression, including American citizens and residents of Washington State, I can’t help but feel dismayed and horrified at how this trip could escalate an already dangerous dictatorship. It sends a sad message to those affected by Saudi repression at home.

Since I returned, I have had the honor of working with the families of brave human rights activists and dissidents who have been detained or implicated in supporting human rights work, and others who live with their children in Saudi Arabia. stuck in, as I once was. It wasn’t until I returned to America that I knew how prevalent this problem was on our own soil.

I have worked on cases of more than 100 American families devastated by repression in Saudi Arabia, We work with family members who haven’t heard from loved ones for years because they’ve gone missing, family members who had to learn that their brothers, sons, fathers, mothers or sisters were abused and Now they are suffering from permanent physical deformity or post-traumatic stress disorder due to torture.

We work with families whose loved ones’ prison sentences and travel restrictions are so long that they live with the prospect of never seeing them again unless something changes. we have American women and children trapped or kidnapped In situations of abuse in the country, unable to move out because of ultra-patriarchal and archaic male guardianship and kafala laws, which prevent them from leaving the country without the permission of the husband or father.

We have women who have taken their children from them to Saudi Arabia, and even one here in Washington state which is under an active travel ban in Saudi Arabia, so unable to see their son Is. mother of children in oregon He never got justice for his child’s murder because Saudi Arabia helped civilians escape before trial.

The repressive strategy of the Saudi government is not confined within its borders, and the impact of Saudi international repression within US borders should not be overlooked. This was most evident with the brutal murder of Khashoggi, an American resident journalist. Such heinous crimes by this regime seem to go without punishment.

I hope that the US President’s meeting with Saudi Arabia will result in freedom for family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been wrongfully detained – Like my client Abdulrahman al-Sandhan, Salman al-Odeh, Mohamed al-Qahtani, Mohamed al-Rabiah, Sara and Omar al-Jabri, and others who cannot be publicly named.

I also hope this will result Removal of travel restrictions banning individuals from leaving Saudi Arabia borders and return home to their families – such as Aziza al-Yousef, Salah al-Haider, Laujain al-Hathloul, Badr al-Ibrahim and Walid Fitaihi. I also hope that American children trapped there will be able to be reunited with their mothers – as Teresa Maloof, madonna plain and so many others.

I urge the Biden administration to prioritize human rights, and to secure the safety and well-being of its citizens and residents, prior to this meeting. A good start would be to gain freedom for those wrongfully detained and bring these American families back home.

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