British human rights campaigners have held a candlelight vigil to mark five years since the state-sponsored killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The vigil took place outside Saudi Arabia’s embassy in London on Monday evening as security guards lingered around the gates of the premises.
Some of the activists chanted slogans such as “down down bin Salman,” referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of ordering the assassination of the Middle East Eye (MEE) and Washington Post columnist.
Khashoggi, who had been critical of the Riyadh government, was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018.
The US spy agency CIA said it had collected multiple sources of intelligence indicating that bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne, had issued the instructions for the murder.
Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi was a champion for democracy and believed in holding the powerful to account. For this, he was murdered five years ago. Journalists should not fear for their lives for reporting the truth and must be protected.#PressFreedom pic.twitter.com/S60YooBeor— The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership (@wppressfreedom) October 2, 2023
Kuwaiti activist Salman al-Khaldi told the MEE that participants at the London vigil were harassed by members of the Saudi embassy, noting that Riyadh harasses anyone who speaks out about Khashoggi.
“Today, I have a five-year sentence against me in Kuwait just because I have spoken out about Jamal Khashoggi and I have been banned from entering Saudi Arabia for 25 years,” he said. “If we are silent about Khashoggi, we will be next.”
Huda al-Amri, a UK-based Saudi activist, described Monday’s vigil as an important step in calling for justice.
“If we don’t call for justice now, our time will come too,” she said. ”Bin Salman is a murderer and this is not just about Khashoggi. He was just one of many. There were many before him and there have been many after him. People need to raise their voices for the sake of justice.”
After Khashoggi’s killing, bin Salman was broadly shunned in the West. Recently, however, there has been a shift in the trend as certain world powers are turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s rights record in a bid to attract investment from the oil-rich state.
Daniel Gorman, director of the human rights organization English Pen, was also at the vigil, where he renewed calls for a thorough probe into Khashoggi’s brutal assassination.
“Justice has not been served for Khashoggi, so we continue to call for a full investigation. Given that it has been five years since his brutal murder in the embassy in Istanbul, it is very sad that we have to be here today, but we will continue,” he told the MEE.
“According to independent organizations, the instructions come from the top, so Mohammed bin Salman should be held accountable…we call for all political prisoners to be released.”