Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Saudi’s Engagement in Human Rights Violations Raises no Eyebrows

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Saudi’s Engagement in Human Rights  Violations Raises no Eyebrows

The death of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 dealt a strong blow to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was initially touted for supporting anti-corruption and pro-women reforms.
The global attention was shifted from economic and social reforms of MBS, which was intended to mask the true face of Riyadh, to human rights issues. “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘reform campaign’ has been a frenzy of fear for genuine Saudi reformers who dare to advocate publicly for human rights or women’s empowerment,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, is cited as saying.
Khashoggi’s death and crackdown on human rights activists sent a clear message to Saudi’s dissidents that anyone opining against the rights agenda of MBS will suffer the same fate.
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Saudi to release activists and improve human rights, Riyadh expelled the Canadian ambassador and ordered all Saudi students based in Canada to return.
Regarding Khashoggi’s case, the Saudi Kingdom initially denied his death inside the consulate, claiming he had left the consulate alive, but admitted on 20 October that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.
Subsequently, the CIA came to the conclusion that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, based on reports released by The Washington Post and other media outlets on November 16. 
Above all, the military operations of Saudi-led coalition forces on Yemen have led to heavy casualties and humanitarian crisis. According to reports, 8,670-13,600 people were killed in Yemen from March 2015 to December 2017.
Last year, the United Nations warned that 13 million Yemeni civilians faced starvation, which it described “the worst famine in the world in 100 years”.  The death of thousands of people from starvation and cholera epidemic in 2017 sent shockwaves throughout the world.
The Saudi-led coalition forces carried out indiscriminate attacks. As a result, Riyadh dropped a 227kg laser-guided bomb, as CNN reported, on a school bus on 9 August 2018, which killed 51 people, including 40 school children. Subsequently, the Human Rights Watch called for an end to all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which carried out attacks on weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools.
Denmark, Norway, and Germany suspended arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the wake of troubling human rights record, mainly the gruesome death of Khashoggi, and bloody war against the Houthis in Yemen.
It has been reported this month that the weapons Trump administration sold to Riyadh were ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Yemen, a worrying issue “that may have even contributed to the EU’s decision to place Saudi Arabia on its blacklist”.
To take the aforementioned issues into consideration, the world should not turn a blind eye to Khashoggi’s grisly murder inside the Saudi consulate. The international community should probe the issue thoroughly and prosecute the perpetrators fairly. If Riyadh denies the involvement of Saudi officials into the Khashoggi’s death, it has to facilitate the investigation.
Meanwhile, the flagrant violation of humanitarian law in Yemen by Riyadh is a great cause for concern. It is evident that targeting public places such as schools, hospitals, residential areas and killing civilians, especially women and children, are considered war crime. Warring sides are also not allowed to block humanitarian aid. Inflicting sufferings upon civilians to pressure the opponents is against the international law. Thus, Saudi has to stop blocking humanitarian aid and has to observe the international humanitarian law (IHL).
Cracking down on human rights activists and arresting men and women in light of their social activities are also against the international instruments. It is disappointing to see the world, mainly Islamic societies, hardly ever raise eyebrow against the flagrant violation of human rights committed by the repressive kingdom.
Handing over the weapons to terrorist networks will deteriorate the security situation in the Middle East and jeopardize the entire region. Saudi must not be allowed to arm the al-Qaeda-linked groups simply to gain the upper hand over its political opponents in the region. Saudi’s arm sellers, which claim to be concerned about the violation of human rights and IHL, have to stop selling weapons to this country. It will outrage the public conscience to see countries, which claim to support democracy and human rights, pursue their financial interests at the cost of the death of thousands of men, women, and children through selling weapons to Riyadh.
The severe malnourishment of Yemeni children and the cold-blooded death of civilians on daily basis in Yemen are highly shocking. The international community has to put pressure on Riyadh and impose sanctions, if necessary, to restrict the human rights violations. The Trump administration is highly responsible to show reaction towards Saudi in terms of such violations of human rights, including the Khashoggi’s death. It is hoped that Saudi no more violates human rights and humanitarian law with impunity.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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