Since October of 2016, I have contacted my Congresswoman, Representative Grace Meng (D-NY), many times, to exhort her to join Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) in acting to end one of the most outrageous human rights abuses by a U.S. ally. I refer to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of Dawood al Marhoon, Ali Mohammed al Nimr, and Abdullah al Zaher, three youths whom the Saudi government has jailed, tortured, and sentenced to execute, merely because they peacefully protested during the Arab Spring. Given Meng’s handling of my request, it seems likely that she is determined to not help these boys, but is unwilling to admit it.
The youths, all of whom were children during the times of their arrests, have been languishing in prison since 2012 or 2013. Although the Saudi government has fabricated, and coerced (under torture), the boys to confess to outlandish charges, such as armed robbery and throwing Molotov cocktails, a worldwide consensus of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reprieve, and the United Nations, is protesting the boys’ treatment and demanding that their lives be spared.
Meng’s office’s handling of my request to help the boys has been either inept or willfully evasive. In October, after I persistently telephoned, her office put me in touch with a staffer who, presumably, would directly handle my case. But after I spoke with him directly and emailed him twice, he could only inform me that “my email and attachments have been received” and that my “views on the subject are appreciated.” And when I phoned Meng’s office to follow up with this same staffer, the office gave me the name of another staffer who, presumably, could serve me better. This new staffer told me, in February, that he would call or email me within two weeks. He did not. I called again in March, asking for this second staffer by name. I was informed that he was in a meeting and would contact me in the near future. But he did not do so.
In the meantime, the Meng office has twice notified me (once by email and once by mail) to boast that Meng occasionally supports human rights, adducing her support for USAID and other organizations as proof. Why have my persistent attempts to ask for help on a specific case resulted in the broadest and vaguest possible statement on human rights from Meng? I can only deduce that Meng is implying her unwillingness to do anything whatever – no legislation, no rhetoric, not a whisper nor a tweet – to prevent the wildly unjust murders of the three heroic Saudi youths.
If I am wrong, I call upon Meng to correct the record. She should inform us of what, if anything, she would do to save these boys.