Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International UK’

Saudi sports washing continues with tennis exhibition

November 11, 2022

The Guardian of 9 November 2022 reports on the Diriyah Tennis Cup which is a ‘sport swashing’ event according to Amnesty UK

Cameron Norrie and other top men’s players appearing at the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia have been urged by Amnesty International to use their platforms to speak out against the country’s human rights abuses. “Everyone playing in Diriyah will surely realise that this tennis tournament is yet another example of Saudi Arabia trying to sportswash its bloody human rights record,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

With Saudi Arabia currently throwing sizeable bundles of money at everything from golf and Grand Prix to boxing and football, it’s really important that top sporting figures use their high profiles to speak out about Saudi human rights abuses.” See e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/sports-washing/

Novak Djokovic in action during the Paris Masters.

The exhibition tournament Diriyah Tennis Cup represents Saudi Arabia’s latest attempt to enter the world of professional tennis. There has been interest from the country in hosting an officially sanctioned Women’s Tennis Association event, which the WTA has not yet pursued. A slew of current and former top players have already committed to the lucrative exhibition in December during the short off-season, including Norrie, who is the British No 1, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev of Russia, Alexander Zverev of Germany, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and Austria’s Dominic Thiem. The inaugural edition was held in December 2019, which also featured Medvedev and Wawrinka.

In a statement, Norrie said “I’m not a politician and I don’t feel it’s right for me to get involved with individual government politics,” said Norrie. Amnesty International UK’s Felix Jakens suggested Norrie and others could use their presence in Saudi Arabia to show solidarity with Salma al-Shehab, the Leeds University student jailed for 34 years there for using Twitter.

We were never going to be telling people like Cameron Norrie where they should or shouldn’t play tennis, but by appearing in Diriyah Cameron should realise he’s effectively being deliberately hired in to take part in the latest jamboree of Saudi sportswashing,” said Jakens. “Cameron has a big platform and genuine influence, and he should use this to show solidarity with people like Salma al-Shehab who are being cruelly persecuted in Saudi Arabia. What Saudi Arabia appears to look for with these competitions is a smiling high-profile sports star who will studiously avoid talking about human rights – Cameron should speak out.”

Up to seven-figure appearance fees have been offered to some top tennis players since the inaugural event in 2019, but not all have entertained them. Matt Gentry, Andy Murray’s agent, revealed at the beginning of the year that he had turned down an offer to compete in the 2019 edition, which Murray echoed at Wimbledon.

“I know a number of the other guys on the tour were offered to play there. I don’t think the player field that went was what they were hoping. A lot of the, I would say, top players and bigger names turned it down. And I personally wouldn’t go and play there,” said Murray.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/nov/09/diriyah-tennis-cup-cameron-norrie-amnesty-human-rights-sportswashing

Human Rights NGOs in UK under pressure from politicians and tabloids not to be ‘apologists’ for terrorism

March 3, 2015

It is not often that the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, writes about human rights defenders, but when it does [3 March 2015], it is vicious. Under the headline “No excuses! Theresa May leads politicians queuing up to blast British apologists for ISIS murderers“, it zooms in on Amnesty International and other NGOs that have worked on occasion with a local group called Cage. The latter is an islamic group led by a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg. The group’s research director, Asim Qureshi, recently described IS killer Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John“) as a ‘beautiful young man’ and accused the security services of radicalising him.

This then led British politicians, from government and opposition, to outbid each other in the strongest possible terms to demand that everybody distance themselves from that group. E.g., Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said: ‘I condemn anyone who attempts to excuse that barbarism in the way that has been done by Cage.‘ Jacqui Smith, a Labour former Home Secretary, called Cage ‘outrageous apologists

Steve Crawshaw, of the office of the secretary general at Amnesty, admitted yesterday it was ‘highly unlikely’ they would work with Cage again, although together with Liberty, Justice and five other human rights groups, it had joined with Cage in a ‘collective’ to make representations to an inquiry into the treatment of British Army detainees.
Asked if Amnesty had played to a ‘myth’ of victimisation, Mr Crawshaw added: ‘I don’t think we have played to anybody’s myth. I can’t condemn strongly enough anybody, in any context who seeks to find some justification somehow for how they can justify killing civilians…Our colleagues there (in Iraq) are risking lives in order to document the terrible crimes of IS and therefore to hear somehow that we are turning away from those things, I do think is quite extraordinary.’

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said yesterday: ‘Amnesty has no formal or financial relationship with Cage. Amnesty has, along with a number of others human rights organisations, worked on issues relating to Guantanamo and torture.’

Read more: No excuses! Theresa May leads politicians queuing up to blast British apologists for ISIS murderers | Daily Mail Online.