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National Summit on Saudi Arabia, March 5-6


March 2, 2016
Campaign for Peace and Democracy & Paul Gottinger / Reader Supported News

Saudi Arabia opened 2016 with a tragic, yet increasingly common event for the Kingdom, a mass execution. In the words of Amnesty International, "Saudi Arabia's authorities demonstrated their utter disregard for human rights and life by executing 47 people in a single day." Why is the US arming this cruel and dictatorial kingdom? The question will be addressed in a two-day national summit to be held in Washington, DC on March 5-6, 2016.

http://www.codepink.org/2016saudisummit

National Summit on Saudi Arabia, March 5-6
Campaign for Peace and Democracy



The Campaign for Peace and Democracy invites you to Washington, DC, on March 5 and 6 for the first-ever two-day Summit on Saudi Arabia and US-Saudi ties.

The summit is being hosted by CODEPINK along with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Nation Magazine, the Institute for Policy Studies, RootsAction, Middle East Crisis Committee, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, and many others.

Dates: March 5-6, 2016
Times: Saturday, 8:00am to 9:00pm | Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00pm
Location: The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (4340 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008)

(More information is available below the next story.)





US Ties to Saudi Kingdom Are Beheading Democracy:
An Interview With the Son of an Executed Political Prisoner

Paul Gottinger / Reader Supported News

(February 26, 2016) -- Saudi Arabia opened 2016 with a tragic, yet increasingly common event for the Kingdom, a mass execution.

In the words of Amnesty International, "Saudi Arabia's authorities demonstrated their utter disregard for human rights and life by executing 47 people in a single day."

According to the British rights organization Reprieve, Saudi Arabia has had one of the world's highest rates of execution for over ten years. Many of these executions occur after unfair trails and may be carried out by the barbaric means of beheading, public crucifixion, stoning, or firing squad.

All 47 individuals executed on January 1 were accused of being terrorists. However, four of those executed were involved in Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring protests. These four remained strictly nonviolent in their calls for greater democracy and rights in the Kingdom.

Despite being a major US ally, Saudi Arabia has an atrocious human rights record. The Kingdom is intolerant of any dissent and harshly represses any critics. The Kingdom has also banned all public gatherings and demonstrations since the Arab Spring erupted in 2011.

One of these four political prisoners executed was the well-known Shia cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr. Al-Nimr was a powerful and articulate critic of the Saudi government and royal family.

Amnesty International stated that Sheik al-Nimr's execution showed that Saudi officials were "using the death penalty in the name of counter-terror to settle scores and crush dissidents."

Reader Supported News spoke with Sheik al-Nimr's son, Mohammed al-Nimr, just a few weeks after his father's execution.

Mohammed described his father as someone who believed in the same values as Americans and who wanted all people to have basic things like democracy, freedom, justice, dignity, and human rights."He was a peaceful man who demanded change in my country because he wouldn't tolerate any tyranny. He always spoke for the oppressed against the oppressors."

Mohammed said his father guided Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring protesters in the way of nonviolence. "He demanded peaceful change in the form of democratic elections and he also demanded basic human rights."

Despite the Saudi government labeling him a terrorist, Mohammed said, "My father was always a strong supporter for peaceful change. He always asked people to be peaceful and not to fall into violence. I never saw my father with a weapon. He once told a protestor, you are right to demand your rights, but don't engage in even the smallest forms of violence like throwing rocks at riot police."

Mohammed's father was first arrested in 2012. A security vehicle rammed into his car, security personnel dragged him out of the car, then finally opened fire on him, striking him 4 times.

When Sheik al-Nimr woke up in the hospital his upper chin was broken and two teeth were missing. "My father underwent an operation to remove the bullets, but the hospital intentionally left one bullet in his thigh to cause him pain."

Due to his injuries, Sheik al-Nimr suffered an enormous amount of pain, which prevented him from sleeping properly for an entire year. Sheik al-Nimr was also held in solitary confinement for almost four years, the entire time he was imprisoned.

I asked whether the US reached out to help free his father, who believed in democracy, nonviolence, and justice, the very values America claims to stand for. But Mohammed said the US never reached out to him. "They know about the case, but they didn't do enough to stop the execution."

In the days after Sheik Nimr's execution, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the White House had "raised concerns" with the Saudi government that executing Sheik Nimr al-Nimr could heighten sectarian tensions.

Mohammed said this is the US government's way of saying they did their part. "But that's not enough. You don't just warn them. He was a peaceful man. The US should have demanded his release and done all they could to stop the execution from happening."

When asked if he had a message for the American people, Mohammed said, "Your security is in danger. As long as your government supports the Saudi regime, which has a lot of money to support terrorism all over the world, your security is in danger."

"This Saudi regime supported the Taliban, and the result was al Qaeda. Then the Saudi regime supported the rebels in Syria, and the result was ISIS."

"Where does the money for all these terror groups come from? It's the Saudi government's oil money. The Saudi government pretends to fight terrorist ideology, but their ideology is the root of terrorist ideology. For example, 15 of 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi. Why is that? Because that's what they teach people in school."

"So my message for American citizens is look out for your safety. You don't want more 9/11 attacks, you don't want more Paris attacks. That's what this regime supports, even if the regime shows another face."

When asked what his father would think of the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran that followed his father's execution, he said, "I believe if my father was here he would not agree to the attack in Tehran. As I said, he was a peaceful man and would never encourage violence."

Mohammed said his father's execution left an enormous impact on him. "My father was really a friend to me. He was a great father and I will have a deep sadness for the rest of my life due to his loss. I know he's in a better place right now, but the painful thing is that I'm never going to see him, or hear his voice with new words about freedom, justice, dignity and humanity."

When asked how he planned to attain justice for his father, Mohammed said, "I will make the whole world hear his voice. Make the whole world know what he stood for and what he demanded and not the picture the Saudi government is trying to paint of my father."

"He was not a violent man. He was just someone who wouldn't tolerate any tyranny and any oppression against anyone. He would stand up for anyone who is oppressed."

Paul Gottinger is a staff reporter at RSN whose work focuses on the Middle East and the arms industry. He can be reached on Twitter @paulgottinger or via email.


National Summit on Saudi Arabia, March 5-6
Campaign for Peace and Democracy

Dates: March 5-6, 2016
Times: Saturday, 8:00am to 9:00pm | Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00pm
Location: The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (4340 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008)

The Campaign for Peace and Democracy invites you to Washington, DC, on March 5 and 6 for the first-ever two-day Summit on Saudi Arabia and US-Saudi ties.

The summit is being hosted by CODEPINK along with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Nation Magazine, the Institute for Policy Studies, RootsAction, Middle East Crisis Committee, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, and many others.

Dates: March 5-6, 2016
Times: Saturday, 8:00am to 9:00pm | Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00pm
Location: The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

(4340 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008)

The new wave of hostilities unleashed by the Jan. 2 execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr shows how critical it is for us to understand the dynamics of Saudi politics and its effects throughout the Middle East.

In an effort to keep this accessible to all, the price for the entire conference is only $20 to $100 (sliding scale), including lunch.

Purchase your tickets now!
And after you register, please be sure to let us know by replying to this email or contacting us at cpd@igc.org so we'll know to look for you in Washington.

http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/549ac7aeebad645f16000001/attachments/original/1453489241/2016-summit.png

The conference includes a great line up of more than 15 speakers, including Saudi, Yemeni, and Bahraini nationals, talks by Medea Benjamin, Chris Hedges, Vijay Prashad, as well as Mohammed Al-Nimr, son of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr and representatives from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Gulf Institute, and the National Iranian American Council.

This summit will address issues such as human rights, Saudi domestic and foreign policy, and the prospects for change inside the kingdom and in US-Saudi relations.

Schedule:
Saturday, March 5

8:00am-9:00am Registration
Opening Session
9:00am-9:30am
* Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK

Session I: Saudi Politics and Overview
9:30am-10:15am
* Ali Al-Ahmed, The Gulf Institute
* Abdulaziz Al-Hussan, Saudi lawyer and human rights defender
* Moderator: Medea Benjamin

Session II: Women in Saudi Arabia
10:20am-11:00pm
* Ebtihal Mubarak, Saudi journalist
* Kristine Beckerle, Human Rights Watch
* Moderator: Jodie Evans

Session III: Human Rights
11:00am-11:50am
* Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International
* Dr. Sharat G. Lin, scholar on Middle Eastern migrant labor
* Julianne Hill, Reprieve US Legal Fellow
* Moderator: Ann Wright

Lunch Break & Keynote
12-1pm
* Vijay Prashad, author and professor at Trinity College

Session IV: Saudi Foreign Policy
1:15pm-2:15pm
* Rabyaah Althaibani, Yemeni-American activist
* Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council
* Matar Matar, Bahraini politician and activist
* Moderator: Joanne Landy

Session V: Oil, weapons sales, and US-Saudi ties
2:30pm-3:45pm
* William Hartung, Center for International Policy
* Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee
* Robert Vitalis, author and professor at University of Pennsylvania
* Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies

Session VI: Supporting Change in Saudi Arabia
3:50pm-4:50pm
* Mohammed Al-Nimr, son of executed Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr
* Daniel Arshack, lawyer for imprisoned attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair
* Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director, International Civil Society Network (ICAN)

Wrap Up
5pm-5:30pm
Food and conversation available at restaurant downstairs:
Epicurean, 4250 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Wajda film screening
7:00pm-9:00pm

Sunday, March 6
9:30am Check in
Outlining and brainstorming campaigns (with open mic)
10:00am-11am

Breakout sessions
11am-12noon including:
* supporting political prisoners
* stopping weapons sales
* getting 28 pages released
* creating an international coalition
* tracking/countering the Saudi lobby

Report backs
12:00pm-12:30pm

Lunch Break/Interest Groups
12:30pm-1:30pm

Chris Hedges keynote
1:30pm-2:30pm

Wrap-up
2:30pm-3:00pm

Co-Sponsors:
* Campaign for Peace and Democracy
* Center for Inquiry
* Coalition to End the US-Saudi Alliance
* Environmentalists Against War
* Fellowship of Reconciliation
* Food Not Bombs
* Friends Committee on National Legislation
* Historians Against the War
* Institute for Policy Studies
* Just Foreign Policy
* KnowDrones.com
* Middle East Crisis Committee
* Peace Action
* People Demanding Action
* Popular Resistance
* RootsAction
* The Gulf Institute
* The Markaz
* The Nation Magazine
* US Labor Against the War
* United For Peace and Justice
* United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
* United National Anti-War Coalition
* Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
* Veterans For Peace
* Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* WESPAC Foundation
* WNY Peace Center
* World Beyond War
* WILPF DC Branch

Who should attend? You should attend if you:
* Want to learn about the roots and spread of Islamic extremism.
* Seek solutions to violence in the Middle East.
* Support a US foreign policy that is based on respect for human rights.
* Oppose global weapons proliferation.
* Are working to end our dependence on fossil fuels.

At the Summit on Saudi Arabia, you will learn about a country that is a close ally of the US government and business community but is at the root of many of the problems plaguing the Middle East.

By attending keynotes, panel discussions and workshops by people who are from the region or have spent time there, you will gain tools and information to speak about these issues in your community and become an active part of a network of change-makers seeking to influence the nature of US-Saudi ties.

Register now
Just $20 to $100 sliding scale, including lunch.
Buy your tickets here!
Don't forget to let us know when you register. And please join the Facebook event, where CODEPINK will be posting updates on additional speakers and co-sponsors! We hope to see you there.

Also, if you haven't already signed, please add your name to
the Campaign for Peace and Democracy's statement:
"END ALL US SUPPORT
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF SAUDI ARABIA"

which you can read on line at http://www.cpdweb.org/stmts/1026/stmt.shtml

If you have any difficulty signing on, write us at cpd@igc.org

Find us on Facebook: Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Email: cpd@igc.org
Web: www.cpdweb.org
Twitter: @CampPeaceDem
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2808 Broadway, #12
New York, New York 10025


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