‘The whole world has been shocked by this grotesque killing’ - Kate Allen
Amnesty International activists will rename the street outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in central London tomorrow “Khashoggi Street” to mark a month since the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate building in Turkey.
The renaming - in the form of a mock “Khashoggi Street” sign which will be erected near the gates of the Saudi embassy - will take place at 1.14pm, the exact time that CCTV cameras recorded the journalist entering the consulate building in Istanbul.
Mr Khashoggi was reportedly strangled moments after entering the building, though the details of what happened to him - and even the location of his body - is clouded in doubt amid numerous claims, counter-claims and denials.
The Saudi Arabian public prosecution has said that Khashoggi died after a “fist-fight”, a finding that Amnesty has dismissed as “not trustworthy”. Amnesty has called for a UN investigation into the killing.
The renaming stunt will see several sombre activists wearing Amnesty candle-and-barbed-wire t-shirts unveil the Khashoggi street sign.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“The whole world has been shocked by this grotesque killing, and it’s vital that we don’t let the outrage fade away without justice being done.
“We need to see Jamal Khashoggi’s killers brought to justice - not only those who actually carried out the murder, but those who ordered it and knew it was about to happen.
“Contrary to claims made by the Saudi Crown Prince and others, Saudi Arabia hasn’t been ‘reforming’, it’s been rounding up critics and activists in a brutal human rights crackdown.
“The UK needs to completely re-appraise its relationship with Saudi Arabia, moving on from its failed softly-softly ‘engagement’ approach to one where ministers raise human rights openly and frankly with their counterparts in Riyadh.
“One thing Britain urgently needs to do is halt all further arms sales to the Saudi Arabia and other members of the military coalition in Yemen.”
(Note: the main gates to the Saudi Arabian embassy are in Curzon Street, London W1J 7US).
Conflict in Yemen
In the past three-and-a-half years, the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has seen numerous incidents where coalition bombs and missiles have struck Yemeni hospitals, food depots, marketplaces, civilian buses, factories and funeral halls. The UN assesses that the “majority” of the thousands of Yemeni civilian deaths are a direct result of this aerial barrage, while thousands more have been injured. Meanwhile, armed Houthi opposition groups have also indiscriminately shelled residential areas of towns and cities.
Human rights crackdown in Saudi Arabia
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi comes in the midst of a serious crackdown on human rights defenders and dissidents in Saudi Arabia. Since September 2017, when the authorities launched a wave of arrests targeting activists, writers and religious clerics, Amnesty has been able to verify 20 arrests. Some of those detained are now facing trial before the country’s notorious counter-terrorism court.
Meanwhile, in May this year there was a fresh intensification of the crackdown, with at least 12 women’s rights activists detained, including the prominent “right to drive” campaigner Loujain al-Hathloul. These continue to be detained without charge and may face lengthy prison terms following trials before the counter-terrorism court.
In the past months, several more people have been detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and may now face a death penalty following the public prosecution’s call for the death penalty in their first trial session. This includes reformist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda and women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a minority, Israa al-Ghomgham.
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