SIR – The inclusion of politicians from countries with appalling human rights records, eg Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in Paris last Sunday week, vividly represents the cynical efforts of many powerful states to make political capital from the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ atrocity and is insulting to the memory of the murdered journalists and cartoonists.
Israel killed 17 journalists alone in its attack on Gaza last summer. The Turkish state regularly harasses and imprisons journalists. Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded a total of 87 people in 2014 and ten so far this year (the most recent a Burmese woman who screamed in terror while being dragged down the street before her beheading) and is publicly flogging Raif Badawi for expressing freedom of thought, a mainstay of journalism.
While the media spotlight, belatedly shines on Saudi Arabia’s despicable human rights record, one aspect missing from the analysis is how the major western powers prop up this reactionary regime, particularly through trade in armaments. The US Congressional Research Service reports that Riyadh signed billion worth of arms transfer agreements with the US in 2011 alone.
The Campaign Against Arms Trade reports that Britain, under David Cameron’s premiership, has approved export licenses to Saudi Arabia worth £3.8bn, with £1.6bn of those in 2014 alone. In February last year, frequent visitor Prince Charles frolicked with the Saudi sheiks while British defence firm BAE sold them 72 Typhoon fighter jets worth £4.4 billion.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others have armed the Islamic State forces in Syria, quite likely with arms supplied by the US and Britain, which helps to continue the spiral of perpetual war that so many western economies seem to rely on and which has fostered the hatred throughout much of the Muslim world that contributes to the rise in terrorist attacks in the west.
The Irish Government should dissociate the Irish people from this militaristic and torturous cabal that gathered in Paris. It can start by immediately publicly calling for an end to western arms sales to Saudi Arabia, an end to beheadings and for the release of prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi.
Jim Roche, PRO,
PO Box 9260,