Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK Co-founder, (415) 235-6517, [email protected]
Alli McCracken, CODEPINK (860) 575-5692, [email protected]
Washington, DC –– After a two-day summit on Saudi Arabia, over 250 representatives from dozens of organizations announced the launch of a national campaign to challenge the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, specifically by working to end the sale of billions of dollars worth of US weapons to Saudi Arabia.
CODEPINK, The Nation Magazine, the Gulf Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies, Peace Action, and many other organizations, hosted a two-day summit to shed light on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Saudi’s war in Yemen, and U.S.-Saudi ties, including the Saudi lobby in Washington DC. Human rights advocates, diplomats, scholars, authors, and grassroots activists from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain came together in this first-of-its-kind summit to question the US- Saudi alliance, especially pertaining to US weapon sales.
"The European Union just voted for an EU-wide arms embargo to Saudi Arabia because of its bombing of civilians in Yemen, the UK ministry of justice pulled out of a multimillion dollar prison contract because of Saudi's brutal treatment of nonviolent prisoners, and Belgium refused an export license to ship weapons," said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. "Meanwhile, the US is transferring record amounts of weapons to the Saudi Arabia. We are launching this campaign to address this injustice and say that as American citizens, we will not sit by while our government sells billions of dollars in weapons to this regime.”
“Hundreds of activists, experts and scholars met this weekend and agreed to launch a national campaign to stop weapons sales to this repressive regime," said Alli McCracken, Co-Director of CODEPINK. “With so many documented gross violations of human rights in Yemen, the time has come for our government to abide by US law and suspend all further military sales to Saudi Arabia.”
This Summit comes at a time when many Saudi policies are being questioned by the international community: the unprecedented number of executions in 2015, including the killing of Sheikh Nimr al Nimr that further inflamed Middle East tensions; the continued crackdown on human rights activists by sentencing nonviolent bloggers, poets and lawyers to long prison terms and flogging; and most importantly, Saudi Arabia’s relentless bombing in Yemen that has killed thousands of innocent civilians. The Summit marks the beginning of a new campaign to suspend US weapons sales to the Kingdom and to establish an international coalition with groups in Europe and Canada to work towards a global weapons ban.