LONDON - Saudi Arabia’s aggressive publicity to rebrand its image, tarnished by a ruthless crackdown on freedom of expression and a bombing offensive in Yemen, is fooling nobody, Amnesty International has said.
The global human rights organization calls into question the PR blitz by Saudi Arabia that has accompanied Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s official visits to the UK and USA.
Amnesty International’s ad campaign is being launched as the Crown Prince continues to woo politicians, top defence industry officials, Hollywood executives and Silicon Valley leaders during a three-week coast-to-coast tour of the USA, where he has been fêted by President Donald Trump.
“The best PR machine in the world cannot gloss over Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record. The Crown Prince has been cast as a reformer but the crackdown against dissenting voices in his country has only intensified since his appointment last June,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for Amnesty International in the Middle East.
“If Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is truly intent on being a ‘reformer’, he must end the systematic repression of women, minorities and human rights defenders, order the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and end the use of the death penalty.”
One of the ads features a photo of a blindfolded man facing execution in Saudi Arabia. The text says: “If this is how your country delivers justice, you need a really, really good PR agency”.
Another ad is a parody of a job recruitment advert that seeks “PR talent who can distract the world’s attention from the merciless persecution of human rights activists, torture in prisons, corporal punishment and the killing of civilians in Yemen, by Saudi Arabia, our biggest client”.
Samah Hadid said: “Saudi Arabia wants the world to focus on its humanitarian aid donations to Yemen but in reality, the Saudi-led coalition is committing serious violations of international law by bombing schools, hospitals and civilian homes, which is exacerbating one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.” (FA)