Not Welcome Here: Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

MBS Protest, MIT, March 23, 2018 Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is responsible for the bombing of Yemen and its humanitarian crisis, the worldwide diffusion of a virulent form of Wahhabi Sunni Islam, the arming of rebels in various countries, and human rights violations at home. MIT and community members protested MIT's hosting the prince at a rally March 23 at the MIT main entrance

Massachusetts Peace Action actively protested Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia during his visit to the United States, and to the Boston area March 24-26. As Saudi defense minister he initiated the Saudi war against Yemen, which has caused catastrophic human and material damage such as the destruction of Yemen’s cultural heritage and the deaths of numerous Yemenis, including children, along with famine and a cholera epidemic. Tens of thousands of civilians have died, 22 million civilians are threatened by famine, and over one million newyocases of cholera have been reported. As of now, 2 million Yemenis are internally displaced, living in squalid conditions, lacking basic amenities such as running water and healthcare.

On Friday, March 23 Massachusetts Peace Action and its allies protested Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) at MIT. Activists picketed outside of the main entrance to the MIT campus, and shouted “MBS go home!” and “No war criminals in the US!” Our protest was attended by 45 people, who held posters with slogans like“No Saudi War Criminal at MIT” and chanted “What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now.” 

The MIT Tech story on the controversy surrounding MBS’ visit was on its front page: https://thetech.com/2018/03/25/mbs-visits-mit, and The Tech also wrote a strong editorial, “The Hypocrisy in MIT’s Moralizing”, in the same issue opposing not only MIT-Saudi collaboration but also MIT military research: https://thetech.com/2018/04/05/editorial-mit-selective-moralizing.  A panel at the MIT Day of Action April 17 will review these developments.

Shireen al Adeimi, a Yemeni graduate student at Harvard, spoke about atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia, the origins of the conflict, and the state of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. She explained why the war was a disaster for human rights, public health and peace in the Middle East. Here is a video of Shireen al Adeimi’s speech: Shireen Al Adeimi Speech Video.

Harvard Law School scholars Yarden Katz and Grif Peterson wrote an op-ed in The Guardian pointing out that when Harvard and MIT secretly welcome autocrats without allowing public discussion, they have sold out their mission.

Cambridge City Councilman Quinton Zondervan protested as well, criticizing the fact that Saudi Arabia is pumping too much oil and hurting the environment. He authored a resolution which was passed by the Cambridge City Council condemning MBS’ actions, and also chastising Harvard and MIT for keeping the MBS visit hushed. His resolution states that Saudi Arabia continues to rely on selling oil as the basis for its economy, despite the clear and present danger of climate change to the entire planet, and uses the wealth it derives from oil sales to purchase weapons and wage war. As for MIT and Harvard, he wrote that they typically allow for more dialogue and discussion when controversial figures come to campus, yet MBS’ visit was shrouded in an unusual level of secrecy.

Here is a link to a video of our protesters picketing against MBS: Massachusetts Peace Action MBS Protest Video and a great 10-minute audio summary by Chuck Rosina of WMBR radio.

A few days later, at an emergency protest, Massachusetts Peace Action activists protested Saudi Crown Prince at the Four Seasons Hotel where he was staying, on Monday the 26th of March. That Monday was the 3rd anniversary of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s war against Yemen with the military backing of the United States. We let the murderer of Yemen know that we are determined to stop his war crimes.

Massachusetts Peace Action was not alone in these protests. We had allies and co-sponsors that helped us with everything from recruitment to poster making. The organizations that helped us were Action Corps Boston, the Green-Rainbow Party, Veterans for Peace/ Smedley Butler Brigade, American Friends Service Committee, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Boston Branch, Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine, Harvard Law School National Lawyers Guild, MIT Student/Worker Alliance, and MIT Science for the People.