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Rights activist rally against Saudi crown prince's London visit, condemn regime’s repression

Rights campaigners rally in front of the Saudi Embassy in London to voice their opposition to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's forthcoming visit to take part in Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. (via social media)

Dozens of human rights campaigners have rallied in front of the Saudi Embassy in London, denouncing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's trip to the city for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral amid international outcry over the kingdom's unbridled rights violations.

The demonstration, which was held on Saturday, also drew opponents of the ruling Al Saud family as well as British people hailing from various social strata.

The participants held up posters depicting the results of the kingdom's atrocities besides placards that read "justice for [Jamal] Khashoggi."

The veteran Saudi journalist was slain and dismembered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2020 over his opposition to and activism against Bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, and the royal family's outright human rights violations.

Some other placards carried by the protesters read "boycott the murderers" and "hands off Yemen."

A Saudi-led coalition invaded the Arab world's poorest nation in 2015 to reinstall its Riyadh-friendly government. The coalition has so far failed to realize the objective while killing tens of thousands of Yemeni people and imposing a total blockade on the impoverished country. The Saudi war combined with the embargo have created a dire situation in Yemen, which has been described by the UN as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi regime has also violated an April-present ceasefire with the Yemeni army, which is barely holding, on numerous occasions.

Demanding an end to the rule of Al Saud and Bin Salman, the demonstrators, meanwhile, denounced Riyadh's ongoing crackdown on Saudi human rights activists, scores of whom are languishing across the kingdom's prisons.

"We’re here today to oppose the visit of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to Britain. He is coming allegedly to mourn the queen, but while he is here, who will mourn the 377,000 Yemenis who have died as a result of his war upon the Yemeni people?" asked Stephen Bell, one of the organizers of the protest.

He added, "Who will mourn the political prisoners who have been arbitrarily executed in Saudi Arabia as a result of his dictatorship? Who will give voice to the women of Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned simply for campaigning for the right to drive; [and] campaigning for the women’s rights? Who will give them voice while he is here?"

The activist said, "Unfortunately, the British government is supporting his war upon Yemen, supporting his regime, [and] is arming and giving political support to his regime. This has to end."

The new development came after in early September, a group of rights advocates voiced concern that the UK government may be complicit in human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, citing lack of clarity over what the Persian Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF) supports in the kingdom.

The Middle East Eye report quoted some campaigners as saying that at a time when the human rights situation is deteriorating in Saudi Arabia, uncertainty about what the GSF is supporting in the kingdom raises questions about whether the UK is bolstering institutions involved in abuses.

The report added that the GSF, which has so far given £70 million ($80mn) to six Persian Gulf states, has been criticized by members of parliament and rights groups for leaving the public largely in the dark about how it is run and taxpayer money is spent.

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