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EU urged to skip Saudi G20 summit over human rights violations

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photograph taken on October 6, 2020 shows European flags flying in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by AFP)

The European Parliament strongly urges the European Union to skip an upcoming Saudi-hosted virtual summit of the Group of 20 countries in light of Riyadh’s human rights abuses.

On Thursday, the parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a relevant resolution that could prompt European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel to forgo the meeting that is slated for November, Deutsche Welle reported.

According to the legislature’s website, the resolution was adopted with 413 votes in favor, 49 against, and 233 abstentions.

The measure ticked off a long list of Saudi abuses, including the violations that have been carried out during the 2015-present war by Riyadh and its allies against its southern neighbor Yemen. The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and forced entire Yemen close to the brink of outright famine.

The resolution also made mention of the 2018 murder and dismemberment of prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Last month too, the parliament had called on the EU to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over the war on Yemen and Khashoggi’s gruesome killing.

In the Thursday measure, the MEPs also singled out Riyadh’s notorious and unchecked trend of executions, its imprisonment and sentencing to death of teenage activist Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, and prosecution of women's rights activists.

Towards the end, the resolution reprimanded the Saudi kingdom for its ill-treatment of Ethiopian migrants, many of whom are deported soon upon reaching the kingdom, and poor working conditions for migrant laborers.

Belgian MEP and vice chair of the delegation for the relations with Arab Peninsula, Marc Tarabella, said the EU’s Saudi relations “must not be an alibi for violating human rights."

"The assassination of Khasoggi remains unpunished,” he said, adding, “(Saudi dissident) Raif Badawi is still in prison, (female activist) Loujain al-Hathloul and the women activists and even members of the royal family like Prince Salman Abdulaziz and Princess Basmah are detained without charges for years,” Tarabella said.

"For these reasons, with this resolution we strongly urge the Presidents Von der Leyen and Charles Michel to reconsider EU’s participation in the G20 summit organized by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in November. This would be an opportunity for the EU to show coherence with its values ​​and to not legitimize the impunity for the crimes committed in Saudi Arabia," he added.

"It would be quite embarrassing to see Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel sit next to Mohammed bin Salman," DW also cited a source within the parliament as saying.

The source was referring to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious crown prince, who is the architect of the Yemen war, as well as being widely accused of ordering Khashoggi’s assassination and sweeping arrest campaigns inside the kingdom.

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