WTF? US is OK with Saudis Beheading Human Rights Activists

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We’re living in a time of absolute information overload. The week I’m recording this video, one of the US President’s staff is being convicted of serious crimes while another has been taken into custody and is currently telling the world about the crimes he committed on behalf of the president. Also my state is on fire, and Pokemon Go just released a new update and there are hoppips everywhere. That’s just a random selection of the things on my mind today.

My point is that through all this, I nearly completely missed a huge fucking story, so huge that I spent some time researching it to make sure it was really happening because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it prior. And it’s not because major news sites haven’t covered it — it’s just that there is so much going on that this one nearly slipped through the cracks for me.

Saudi Arabia has arrested five human rights activists, including women’s rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham, and is considering the death penalty. They’ve been in custody for two years, and in October, a judge will determine whether or not to behead these people for peacefully protesting. The charges are things like “participating in protests,” “filming protests,” and “chanting slogans.”

Al-Ghomgham is in the spotlight in particular because she would be the first women’s rights activist to be executed by the state, and that would set a precedent for the dozen other women who have recently been arrested for similar “crimes,” and not to mention any future women’s rights champions who they decide to round up.

If you can believe it, it actually gets worse. Canada is pushing back on the Saudis, stating in no uncertain terms that the Saudis should release the activists. Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression around the world,” which is the kind of position you want your government to take. Unfortunately, it’s not the position my own government is taking, because they’re a bunch of garbage human beings who should be out on the street, not in our Congressional halls.

This week, the US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “It’s up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out.” To “work out” whether or not peaceful human rights activists should be beheaded. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the US has been supportive of the Saudis since the 1940s when they promised to keep that delicious oil flowing in exchange for the US staying out of tiny human rights kerfuffles like this one, and I’m sure it’s also a coincidence that Russia has publicly backed the Saudis on this issue (of literally beheading peaceful human rights activists).

The UK hasn’t been much better, “urging restraint” for both Canada and Saudi Arabia. Sure, because fucking *CANADA* isn’t showing restraint. Hey Canada, we know that stereotypically you guys really fly off the handle all the time so try to just cool it. Oh and you, too, Saudi Arabia, could you show a little restraint when you behead those peaceful activists? I mean besides the restraints you’ll be using to hold a woman down while you chop her head off for asking for basic rights?

So yeah, it’s all pretty fucked up. I don’t have an answer right now — call your congressional representative I guess? Will that help? I honestly don’t know. I’m pretty beaten down. I found a Change.org petition with 199 current signers. I guess you could sign that.

Or we could storm Washington, DC and overthrow our corrupt, disgusting government and try to replace it with something with an ounce of humanity. Yeah, I think that’s the best option here.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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One Comment

  1. This is going to be one of those like when everyone said “If Hillary doesn’t win, a racist is going to be president.” as if that had never happened before in the entire history of the United States, isn’t it?

    It makes my blood boil too, and “boil” just happens to rhyme with the reason the US is fine with it. Well, one reason. (There is a pseudoleft faction so possessed by orientalism, they are totally fine ignoring Saudis or Iranians or whoever behaving badly, but they have no power outside of academia. However, more millennials support this faction than any previous generation.)

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