News & Politics

'We Have a Green Light from Trump': How the President's Words Have Reportedly Gotten People 'Tortured, Raped, and Killed'

A new report from The Intercept reveals the horrific consequences of Trump's words abroad.

Photo Credit: Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Guerra

President Donald Trump, both in office and as a candidate, has used violent and authoritarian rhetoric and has largely ignored crucial human principles. As president, his words have incalculable force — and a new report from the Intercept says that Trump's language is responsible for getting people abroad "tortured, killed and raped."

Journalist Mehdi Hasan focuses on the case of Bahrain, whose government had run a years-long campaign of brutal violence, torture, and oppression against civilian protests. Hasan notes that Trump rolled back the restrictions President Barack Obama had placed on arm sales to the country and abandoned his predecessor's vocal condemnation of the regime's massive human rights violations. 

Just a few days after Trump openly embraced Bahrain’s king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalif, the regime undertook its deadliest attack against protesters since 2011, killing five, wounding at least 100, and arresting hundreds more.

The most shocking part of the article, however, are the accounts of torturers who explicitly invoke Trump's endorsement of violence. Hasan reports that women’s rights activist Ebtisam Al-Saegh was captured, tortured, and sexually assaulted by the Bahrain regime. 

“Do you know that we have a green light from Trump?” one of her interrogators reportedly said.

Previous reporting has shown how Trump's attacks on the media have given dictators abroad free reign to go after legitimate journalistic endeavors in their own countries, drastically weakening democratic norms. But Hasan's article reveals that the horrific cost of Trump's violent words appears to go even deeper than many fear. His endorsement of torture and attacks may seem like largely a domestic issue, but they give license for outrageous abuses in countries where human rights have few if any protections. 

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.