In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 45 members of Congress “urge” the Secretary to withdraw from the G20 summit, which will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in November. In the letter, the members expressed their concerns about the continued violations of human rights and the repression of the voices of civic groups by the Saudi Arabian government. The effort led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) is urging Sec. Pompeo to “publicly demand that the Saudi government take clear and immediate steps towards ending its record of human rights violations, reckless foreign policy, and environmental destruction.” The members are specifically demanding accountability for the killing of the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi and ending the war in Yemen. Additionally, they demand the release of human rights advocates from prison, the freeing of women’s rights activists and to stop violating their rights.
Ahead of the G20 summit, Saudi is hosting the B20 next week, with women’s empowerment at the top of the agenda. Human rights groups call it a “sham” and share their concerns on the violations of women’s rights and human rights in Saudi Arabia. Among several others, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also raised concerns on the violations of human rights and women’s rights, and urge participants to “raise the women’s cases.”
The B20 is the official forum in which business leaders have the opportunity to present policy recommendations to the G20 summit. Although many major businesses have withdrawn from the B20, many major corporations remain. These include representatives from HSBC, Mastercard, PwC, McKinsey, CISCO, ENI, Siemens, Accenture and BBVA.
The Saudi government continues to systematically silence dissent and target teachers, clerics, writers, activists, and human rights advocates who call for change. Just before announcing some changes, including granting women the right to drive in 2018, Saudi authorities arrested human rights defenders, including those who advocated for the right to drive. There are now 13 women’s rights defenders on trials, five of which remain in detention, facing charges of speaking to the foreign media or international organizations. Some are accused of “promoting women’s rights” and “calling for the end of the male guardianship system.”
Earlier this month, Members of the Parliament of the European Union also passed a resolution to “downgrade” its participation in the upcoming G20 meeting on the basis of the violations of human rights and concerns over impunity.
The G20 is the forum for economic cooperation and brings together leaders of developed and developing countries from all continents. The G20 countries, all together, represent 80% of the world’s economic output. The presidency of the G20 rotates among its members and this year, Saudi Arabia is presiding over the Summit.
Sources: Freedom Forward 10/21/20; Amnesty International 10/23/20; Al Monitor 10/09/20; G20