As a wave of massive protests sparked against Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s planned visit to the UK to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Turki bin Faisal has attended the ceremony instead.
MBS had been expected to travel to the UK to pay his condolences on behalf of his father, King Salman.
However, MBS decided not to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral for fear of outcry from human rights groups, which organized several protest vigils against his cancelled visit.
A protest vigil was organised outside the Saudi Embassy in London in rejection of the UK’s invitation to MBS to attend the Queen’s funeral.
The vigil was held by the legal advocacy NGO Detained International, amid large participation of human rights activists and Saudi exiled opponents.
Anti-MBS slogans were chanted during the protests, while banners reading “killers are not welcome” were also raised.
The participants also called for holding MBS accountable upon his arrival in London, as he is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen, in addition to his role in Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said: “The crown prince should not be allowed to be part of this mourning and not be allowed to stain [the queen’s] memory and use this time of mourning to seek legitimacy and normalisation.”
Over the past few months, senior western leaders and diplomats visited the Kingdom including US President Joe Biden, European Union Council President Charles Michel, and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an attempt to help increase oil production.
However, the Saudi regime has made no intention to increase oil production, or make major domestic reforms in favor of human rights situation.
MBS’ decision to miss the funeral stresses the importance of popular and rights protests. However, it should be followed by real action to hold him accountable for his human rights violations and crimes.
In this regard, we strongly condemn any western official 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.