By its very nature the cut and thrust of politics is to some degree about compromise, but for some things compromise really should not an option. There might indeed be squabbles about how much to borrow and spend, and what to spend it on, so sorting out such conflicting interests is where compromise is perhaps wholly appropriate, but beyond all such petty squabbles rests the fundamentals – basic human rights, namely freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
What goes on in Saudia Arabia is quite frankly absurd – when it comes to abusing human rights they more or less tick every single box on the list.
Seriously, I’m not making this up, they quite literally do …
- No rights for women
- No political rights
- No freedom of belief
- No LBGT rights
- No freedom of the press
- No Justice
… and so of course the UN Human Rights Council condemns them, and most nations treat them as a pariah state.
Oh wait, that is not what happens at all. In reality, not only does the UN Human Rights council turn a blind eye to what goes on in Saudi Arabia, but they have actually granted a seat on the Human Rights council to Saudi Arabia and the Saudi’s have put in a bid to run it. Additionally, most nations also treat them as a friend and so ignore what goes on.
Least you even begin to wonder why, there is one small word that explains it all – oil.
Is there anybody with any integrity and basic human decency at all within the political arena?
Yes there is, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s foreign minister does …
Margot Wallström, who vowed to pursue a feminist foreign policy when taking office last year, first hit out at the treatment of Raif Badawi earlier this year after the first 50 of 1,000 lashes was inflicted on him in January for allegedly insulting Islam.
Saudi Arabia reacted furiously to her comments, blocking a speech she was due to give on women’s rights to Arab leaders and temporarily breaking off relations with Sweden.
But speaking on Monday, a day after it emerged that Saudi Arabia’s highest court had upheld Badawi’s punishment, Wallström said she was unrepentant and said again that the flogging amounted to medieval methods.
“I would not have done things differently,”
OK, so far so what, because if you track such things, then everything I’ve said so far is not news. Ah but wait, there is actually some really good news here as well. She took a stance, and as a result …
“I have almost never in my political career experienced such enormous support from around the world,” she said. “The instinct was: if we don’t defend democracy and human rights, what are we?” She added: “You gain respect by saying ‘This is our view’ … It has definitely given us, and given me, a name for standing up even when it was very difficult.”
… On Badawi, however, she is clear. Sweden would join the EU in condemning Badawi’s flogging, she said, and would not dilute its criticism. “You have to respect the right to free speech,” she said. “The protests will not stop.”
I do have one minor quibble here, her observation that justice in Saudi Arabia is medieval is something I would dispute because what actually happens is simply not that modern.
So what about the other politicians in Sweden?
Not such good news, they rolled over and grovelled, but then the political landscape there is one that is deeply divided …
Three letters to King Salman — one from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and two from Prime Minister Löfven – were hand-delivered in Riyadh by Björn von Sydow, a high-ranking emissary of the Swedish government.
… and suddenly they are all friends once again.
I did not really expect them, or for that matter any US or UK politicians, to ever join with her and take such a bold clear stance for human rights because currently most of them appear to have their heads collectively lodged rather firmly right up the a** of the house of Saud.