Troubles With Saudis: Canada Calls on EU to Stick to Human Rights

Written by | Friday, August 31st, 2018

Canada has called on Germany and MEPs to support its efforts in promoting human rights around the world as the country is plunged in a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia. More than 60 MEPs, MPs and intellectuals from around the globe have endorsed and signed an open letter calling for world leaders to support Canada in standing up again Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

“Saudi Arabia still allows women to be sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The Kingdom whips bloggers who dare speak critically of their strict version of Islam, and they regularly lock up peaceful women’s rights activists. And the Kingdom continues to enforce a medieval male guardianship law which prevents women from making crucial decisions for themselves without the explicit consent of a man. […] The time has come to finally stand up to Saudi Arabia and all other governments that commit gross human rights violations. It is our collective responsibility – as stewards of our people – to speak up again and again, no matter how many diplomats are expelled as a result,” the letter reads.

In response to Canada’s critical comments on the Kingdom’s human rights records, Riyadh has frozen any new trade with the country, expelled its diplomats and ended educational healthcare programs that were run jointly in Canada. Germany, which was specifically called out by Ottawa, has been recently trying to improve the relations with the Gulf country. Ties between Riyadh and Berlin have been tight since former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel denounced the Kingdom’s “adventurism” in the Middle East in November of last year.

The incumbent German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized the trans-Atlantic shared interest in guarding a “rules-based international order” in the face of the new wave of unilateralism coming from the White House. “It hits Europe and Germany when the United States, suddenly and without consulting, introduces random sanctions against Russia, China, Turkey and in the future perhaps more of our important trading partners,” he said.

On a different note, the administration of Donald Trump said earlier this week that the US’ support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was “not unconditional” and US Defense Secretary urged Riyadh to “do everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life.” The warning comes after the rising number of civilian deaths. Earlier this month, a strike on a school bus claimed the lives of 40 children.

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