MEPs and activists back Canada in diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia

A number of politicians, thinkers and human rights activists have signed an open letter backing Canadian Foreign Minister’s Chrystia Freeland’s call for support in the country’s diplomatic standoff with Saudi Arabia over human rights violations.

The letter highlights human rights abuses perpetrated by Saudi Arabia, including the stoning women for adultery, beatings of critical bloggers and the arrest of women’s rights activists, and accuses the Saudis of “alleged war crimes committed in Yemen.” Its signatories — which include a number of members of the European Parliament, former French presidential candidate Benoît Hamon and American intellectual Noam Chomsky — expressed their support for Canada and called on “leaders from everywhere to do the same.”

Freeland on Monday called on Germany’s support in a diplomatic crisis that erupted earlier this month following a critical tweet by Freeland, in which she called for the release of two human rights activists arrested in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government reacted by expelling Canadian ambassadors, blocking imports of Canadian grain and freezing new trade relations with Ottawa.

The EU backed away from releasing a public statement on the issue, BuzzFeed News reported, choosing to send a delegation of European and EU ambassadors to meet with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister instead.

Canada will continue to stand up for human rights “even when we are told to mind our own business” and in spite of the economic consequences, Freeland said Monday.


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