Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brown's red carpet out for Saudi royal dictator

Why are the carpets for royal visits traditionally red? To hide bloody trail dripping from hands perhaps.
But Gordon Brown isn't first to
welcome King Abdullah. Here is Saudi ruler in Beijing with China's
President Hu Jintao. Business is business.

"And just to prove that we're sincere,
We'll sing the Red Flag once a year"

DON'T know if they still sang the Red Flag at the end of this year's Labour Party conference - in a spirit of post-modern irony perhaps as delegates filed past the big commercial lobbyists in the foyer - but Gordon Bown's New Labour government is preparing to roll out the red carpet for a reactionary royal dictator.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is due to arrive in London for a state visit on October 30. Having buried the serious fraud office investigation into bribes for Saudi arms deals, just as they helped Mrs.Thatcher shove away an earlier report from the National Audit Office, the Labour leaders have also said they won't help a US case against British Aerospace (the cheek of our competitors!). Nor are they prepared to help British citizens alleging wrongful imprisonment and ill-treatment in Saudi Arabia.

So with the Bush administration pledging more military aid to the Saudis, Brown and the British bosses must be rubbing their hands at the thought of more juicy contracts.

Over in Swansea there's a man who will probably see the visit differently.
Trades unionists in the Welsh city were out campaigning over the National Health Service one Saturday when a young man offered to help them handing out leaflets. Afterwards they got talking. They learned that the man who had joined them was Yahya al-Faifi, and that he had come to Wales to get away from persecution in his native Saudi Arabia for his trade union activity. Yahya had been sacked from his job and put under police surveillance after organising a meeting for fellow-workers to discuss their wage grievances, and whether they should accept a new contract, at Dhahran air base.

When he heard that other Saudis had been arrested and jailed merely for petitioning for the right to form a union, Yahya decided to seek refuge abroad before the authorities came for him. That he came to Britain was appropriate. His employer at Dhahran had been BAE systems, that is, what used to be called British Aerospace.

The Swansea trades union council have helped Yahya find work, and he has been helped by them also in setting up a General Federation of Free Workers Trade Unions Struggling Against Oppression in the Arabian peninsula, with a support group, the Campaign for Democratic Trade Union Rights in Saudi Arabia.


One Labour MP who is not afraid to upset Brown's plans to welcome the Saudi ruler is John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who might have been left-wing challenger for the Labour leadership if more MPs, and our national union leaders, had put their money where their mouths had been, instead of putting their mouths to kissing Gordon Brown's backside.

Anyway, here's what John McDonnell has written:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Government to Welcome Saudi King,
Famed Dictator of Oppressive Regime.

Today I tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament protesting at the upcoming state visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.I tabled the motion because like many others I am angry that the Government will be paying the Saudi king a warm welcome while thousands of incarcerated Saudis face the most brutal forms of torture and the threat of public execution.This is a dictatorship that allows no political parties, free elections, independent media or trade unions and deprives women and gays of their most basic rights.

The invitation to King Abdullah reflects the double standards of the British Government which talks about promoting human rights, but allows the economic interests of oil multinationals and the defence industry to dictate our foreign policy.The full text of EDM 2102: State Visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia reads as follows:

That this House notes with concern the state visit of King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom on 30th October 2007; believes that Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive societies on earth, with no political parties, free elections, independent media or trade unions; views with alarm the systematic human rights abuses that exist within the Kingdom, such as the lack of basic rights for women, the practice of public beheadings and the repression of homosexuals; condemns the recent sale of 72 Eurofighters to such a barbaric regime; and calls upon the British Government to base its foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia on democracy and human rights rather than on narrow economic interests.



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