Human Rights: Do They Really Matter?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has recently received a warm reception from several international parties in total disregard to the rights groups’ appeals to stop normalisation with the Saudi regime over its poor human rights record.

Shortly after US president Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia and MBS’ meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Council Charles Michel made a visit to the Kingdom and met with the Crown Prince, while turning a blind eye to the bloody human rights violations being carried out by the Saudi regime at home and abroad, most seriously the Yemen war.

Last Tuesday, MBS met the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the Royal Court at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, where they discussed the historical relations and existing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the European Union countries in different fields, including those related to energy, environment and climate change.

During the meeting, Charles Michel expressed gratitude through a series of tweets on his official Twitter account.

ٍِSaudi Arabia is profoundly transforming. The EU is also undergoing key transitions.  We need to work together. With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, we engaged frankly on all aspects of our relationship, he wrote.

Michel also posted a photo album with a group of Saudi women, with a comment saying: “My first meeting today in Saudi Arabia was with prominent Saudi women. Thank you for sharing your experiences.”

The visit came at a time when harsh sentences have been issued against number of Saudi activists after being convicted at “incitement charge.”

The Saudi researcher and doctoral student Salma Al-Shehab, who was sentenced to 34 years in prison for spreading “rumours” and retweeting dissidents, was just an example of these harsh sentences.

Salma’s verdict was followed by a 45-year prison sentence against the female detainee Noura bint Saeed Al-Qahtani after being convicted of “using the internet to tear the (Saudi) social fabric.”

Similar prison sentences were also issued against dozens of clerics, scholars, academics, and activists.

For our part, we strongly condemn Charles Michel’s visit to Saudi Arabia, while no guarantees have been made for respect of human rights or an end to the repressive practices being made against freedom of opinion and expression in the Kingdom.

We further affirm that such visits only provide a green light for the Saudi regime and its de facto ruler to commit more crimes and violations while enjoying a complete impunity.

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