The European Union announced that officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host the first meeting between the two parties on human rights on 27 September. In this regard, we call on the EU to take clear answers regarding these violations.
We also call on the EU to take strict measures to stop human rights violations committed by the Saudi regime, both against activists and opponents at home and abroad, and to stop using their families as hostages and tools to pressure these opponents to stop criticizing the authorities.
The war in Yemen should also be at the top of the topics that will be discussed with Saudi officials in the coming period until the end of this war which caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world – as described by the United Nations – especially since the Saudi military intervention did not specify any of its objectives in eliminating Houthis or restoring stability to the country. Rather, it contributed to creating more chaos in Yemen, which has become one of the poorest countries, with destroyed infrastructure, a shabby health system, people on the brink of a famine, and millions of displaced persons and others dead or missing.
We warn against turning this meeting to a means to whitewash the horrific record of the Saudi regime record of human rights violations, and to cover up its brutal crimes, its continuous suppression of rights and freedoms, and its increasing violations since Mohammed bin Salman assumed the mandate of the Covenant, as he began launching a fierce campaign against his potential political opponents from the royal family, businessmen, dissidents, activists, academics, and centrist preachers who were all charged with vague charges related to violence, extremism, and terrorism. Many of them were convicted without evidence, while many are still subject to trials marked by politicisation, especially as they are deprived of their right to appoint lawyers.
A few days before the third anniversary of the assassination of Saudi dissident journalist and human rights defender Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered and dismembered inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, we affirm that the responsibility for achieving justice for Khashoggi falls on all decision makers in the world, and therefore we must work to bring the real perpetrators to justice.
The EU should put more pressure on the Saudi regime and use all its tools to ensure the peaceful release of human rights defenders and dissidents arbitrarily detained for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression.
We stress that European Union officials must pressure the governments of member states to make any cooperation, whether economic, diplomatic, or security, with the Saudi regime conditional on improving the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, releasing political prisoners, and opening firm and transparent investigations into the violations they have been subjected to.