Gay Saudi Diplomat Denied Political Asylum By U.S.
Former Saudi Arabian diplomat Ali Ahmad Asseri, apparently a gay man, whose diplomatic status was revoked by the Saudi Arabian government because he is gay, has been denied political asylum by the U.S. government, according to a report published by the Jerusalem Post, who quotes a Saudi blogger. Asylum decisions are made by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services division of Homeland Security. But no doubt the White House and the State Department would weigh in on a decision involving a Saudi diplomat. By denying Asseri asylum, the U.S. would be sending Asseri to an inevitable death, as Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty to known gays.
“My life is in a great danger here and if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight,” Asseri told NBC.
Arab League Suspends Syria
After months and weeks of a popular uprising against the autocratic government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which, according to the UN has killed more than 3,500 people and thousands of others have been arrested, detained, disappeared and tortured, Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended Saturday. The League threatened political and economic sanctions against Syria, when issuing the suspension for refusing to suspend violence as a method to end the Arab Spring protests.
The Arab League’s action will take effect in three days, giving the government some time to reconsider its action in relationship to the protestors. This action was called for by Human Rights Watch, among numerous other human rights groups. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quickly affirmed the League’s action, stating that the “U.S. commends the principled stand taken by the Arab League and supports full implementation of its efforts to bring a peaceful end to the crisis”.
Berlusconi Out, Greeks Form New Government, Europe Shaken
After 17 years in power, Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister of Italy yesterday, but it wasn’t the sex scandals that gave him the hook– it was all about money and Italy’s sovereign debt. He was pushed from power by Germany, France and the G-20 due to the Euro Zone debt crisis, who turned their full attention toward Rome after the fall of George Papandreou’s Greek government last week end.
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who was not elected to parliament, and his government were sworn in on Friday. But by early Thursday, world markets continued to roil with uncertainty, escalating pressure on Italy to yield to the EU’s demands that Italy get its house in order, fearing collapse of its third largest economy. During the day on Thursday, Belusconi knew he could not remain in office, although he wanted to remain in power until a completed package of reforms were adopted by parliament. A first. Italian “Senator for life” Mario Monti is now expected to oversee an interim government, led primarily by technocrats that can revamp Italy’s debt-to-loan ratio. Europe is not out the woods yet and it remains to be seen when the next shoe in the Eurozone crisis will drop.
RFK Human Rights Awarded to First LGBT Activist
Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award this week by Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy and Senator John Kerry, in a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. The RFK Foundation will now support Mugisha and SMUG for the next six years in an effort to advance LGBT rights in Uganda, a first foray into LGBT human rights for the prestigious foundation.
Two weeks ago Mugisha also accepted the Rafto Prize on behalf of SMUG in a ceremony held in Bergen, Norway. The Rafto Prize noted that it was awarded to “SMUG for its work to make fundamental human rights apply to everyone, and to eliminate discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.” Uganda has become ground zero in Africa and notorious around the world for the efforts of David Bahati, a member of parliament, to legalize capital punishment for homosexuals. In January, David Kato, a gay activist and colleague of Mugisha’s was found in his apartment beaten to death.
Penn State Child Sex Abuse Scandal Shocks America
The November 6th arrest of Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach at Penn State University, who was charged by a Pennsylvania State grand jury with 40 counts of sex abuse, unleashed a series of shocking announcements by the University Board of Trustees that included the immediate dismissal of Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach for the past 46 years and Graham Spanier, president of the University, following an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.
Immediately following the announcement, Penn State student supporters of Paterno took to the streets of State College, in opposition to the Board’s decision, and became violent by flipping over a television satellite truck and engaged in destruction of public and private property–adding insult to nearly lethal injuries already unraveling one of America’s top public universities.
Throughout the week, the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the media reported with dizzying speed the events and details relating to the Penn State cover-up of Sandusky’s alleged rape and sexual assault of young boys, who were recruited through The Second Mile, his foundation for at-risk youth. His crimes includes an alleged criminal complicity and cover-up by Penn State officials Tim Curley, the former Athletic Director and Gary Schultz, the former Senior Vice President for Finance and Business who were also charged by the grand jury with perjury and related charges. Schultz requested immediate retirement and Curley requested administrative leave from the University.
By Friday morning it became publicly known that Paterno had hired a criminal defense lawyer and may have perjured himself before the grand jury in connection to then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary’s testimony who had witnessed the rape of a 10-year-old boy in the showers by a nude Sandusky. McQueary testified that he told Paterno in detail what he had witnessed, although he did nothing to stop the rape and did not call the police.
McQueary, presently an assistant coach, reportedly had received numerous death threats and the University issued a statement early in the day on Friday that he would not be on sidelines of the Penn State game with Nebraska on Saturday afternoon for his personal safety. By Friday evening, the University announced McQueary was on paid administrative leave and remains a key witness to the Sandusky Penn State case that will no doubt be followed with riveting scrutiny by a shocked nation.
Many Americans, pundits, sports writers and social critics feel that the NCAA should administer what is known as the “death penalty,” by shutting down the football program at Penn State for at least one year, if not longer. These charges reflect an institutional cancer that has exposed a rotted leadership that truly lost sight of core values because of a grossly exalted multi-million dollar sport that trumped the dignity and well-being of children. Apologies are simply inadequate.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.
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