Anti-war activists understand the ‘Sportswash’ golf tournament in Saudi Arabia

Peace activists on Friday challenged what they called the “Riyadh sports wash” of war crimes in Yemen and domestic human rights abuses by protesting outside — and at the end of — a Massachusetts golf tournament sponsored by the repressive kingdom.

Members and supporters of the Massachusetts Peace Movement gather at Bolton Fairgrounds in Lancaster, site of the shuttle bus to the LIV Golf Championship at Bolton International Golf Club. The professional golf trip is financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Protesters carried banners reading “Saudi money is blood money” and “Saudi Arabia is killing journalists and children in Yemen,” while a plane flew over the event behind a banner reading “Bolton rejects Saudi blood money.”

“The Saudi bombings and the blockade of Yemen have brought devastation to the people of this country,” said Paul Shannon, chairman of the Massachusetts Task Force on Middle East Peace.

“This destruction was made possible by our country’s support for the Saudi invasion and by the bombs, planes and missiles that US military contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon sold to the Saudis,” he added.

Bolton teaching assistant Alice Rainey said WCVB: “I’m angry because my city is hosting a golf tournament funded by terrorists and the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia.”

Another protester, Paul Garber, claimed that “golf should not be used to promote a government like Saudi Arabia that does these things in the world for the people”.

“We do not rule out cooperation with a murderous dictator like the crown prince,” he added.

In addition to peace activists, relatives of people killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States — they may have been backed by some Saudi officials — have invited LIV golfers, as well as former President Donald Trump, to an LIV event at to be held at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

During a 2016 campaign, Trump blamed Saudi Arabia for 9/11. Once elected, however, he behaved like any US president, maintaining cordial relations with the rulers of the oil-rich kingdom known to have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons to use in the US-backed coalition war in Yemen. which killed hundreds. of thousands of people, homeless, starving and millions more sick.

In a protest Friday, Massachusetts Peace Action also distributed leaflets in India to professional golfers barring them from participating in the tournament “so that they are not associated with a multi-million dollar event of one of the most repressive regimes on the planet not”.

One such player, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, has been an outspoken critic of LIV Golf. Speaking to reporters in June, McIlroy was accused of joining younger players in the “Taking the Easier Way” tournament.

Citing “morale,” McIlroy joined Tiger Woods in deferring $2.5 million in payments to join a tour of Saudi Arabia in 2019.

McIlroy, who was the world’s second-ranked golfer at the time, said: “You can say that about a lot of countries, not just Saudi Arabia, but a lot of the countries we play in. There’s a reason not to go , but for me you just don’t want to go.”

In June, the PGA Tour suspended 17 golfers who competed in the LIV Series in a “selection contest … without media rights release and conflicting event”.

Among the suspended players is six-time PGA Major winner Phil Mickelson, who is said to be subscriber A $200 million contract with LIV, although some strong comments have been made about the Saudis recently.

“They’re scary bitches to get involved with,” biographer Alan Shipnock said in February. We know they killed Khashoggi and they have a poor human rights record.

“They execute people there for being gay,” added Mickelson. “If I know all this, why am I even thinking about it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour operates.”

Last week, LIV Golf joined 11 of its players, including Mickelson, in 1 antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour challenging their suspension.

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