Tarting Up for the Tyrant: A Royal Flush of Hypocrisy

Peter Tatchell has a few choice words in the Guardian on the sumptuous state visit of the Saudi king to his British counterpart. As Tatchell notes, this visit -- like similar royal progresses to Crawford, Texas -- lays bare the howling, bloodsoaked hypocrisy of the noble defenders of freedom and Western civilization. They will deck themselves out like two-dollar whores and crawl on their bellies like a reptile to keep that Saudi money flowing into the pockets of their cronies and the national economies they've sold into indentured servitude to foreign paymasters.

You should read the whole piece but here are some clips:

Gordon Brown refuses to meet the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. He says he wants to take a stand against tyranny. Yet the same Gordon Brown will happily embrace the Saudi dictator, King Abdullah during his state visit to Britain this week. Double standards or what?

The Killer King of the House of Saud is even more of a despot that President Mugabe, yet he will be feted by the prime minister at 10 Downing Street and he will stay with the Queen at Buckingham Palace as her honoured guest. Isn't it just a tad hypocritical for Gordon Brown to rage against one form of tyranny while embracing another?

Ooops, I forgot. Zimbabwe has no oil and it is not a huge purchaser of British-made weaponry. I guess that explains it all. The Killer King's visit is about business, very big business. And under Labour, as with their Conservative predecessors, money-making trumps human rights every time. Moreover, this deal-making isn't even clean profiteering, allegedly. The weapons manufacturer BAe Systems has been accused of having corrupt dealings with Saudi Arabia. In December last year, the Labour government cancelled a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the £40 billion al-Yamamah arms deals, which allegedly involved bribes totalling £1 billion being paid to Saudi government officials. [More on that deal here and here.]

The Saudi regime is one of the most barbaric in the world. It is an absolute monarchy, like feudal England, based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. The blood-stained Killer King presides over a ruthless regime that is guilty of gross human rights abuses, according to Amnesty International. These abuses include detention without trial, torture and the public beheading of unchaste women, gay people and Muslims who turn away from their faith. The Saudi government bans political parties, trade unions and non-Muslim religions...

Women are treated like sub-humans and are subjected to a system of gender apartheid. Outside the home, they must cover themselves from head to toe in a "prison" of black cloth, with only a tiny slit for the eyes. Wearing coloured cloth is a crime. Women are prevented from voting and driving, and from testifying in court in criminal cases.

Saudi Arabia is a misogynistic, homophobic, theocratic police state. King Abdullah should be arrested and put on trial for human rights abuses, not embraced and feted.

As an absolute ruler with absolute power, he is responsible for what is happening in his country. With the strike of pen he could abolish the death penalty, the use of torture and detention without trial. But he chooses to not do so. The Killer King has made a conscious choice to maintain the human rights abuses that have made his country a by-word for barbarism...

The UK and US governments have recently condemned the totalitarianism of the Burmese junta, yet the abuses in Saudi Arabia provoke not even a murmur of criticism from Washington or London. Instead, Mr Brown and Mr Bush prop up the Killer King's despotic regime, selling him arms and buying his oil. They are colluding with Abdullah's oppression of the Saudi people, putting profit-making before human rights.

Same as it ever was, Peter; same as it ever was.