Amnesty International called on Thursday for the G20 leaders to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release “brave activists” who are imprisoned in the Kingdom.
“Instead of keeping pace with the Saudi government in its glamorous phrases about empowering women,” said Amnesty, “the G20 leaders should seize the occasion of the summit to defend the brave activists, the real change makers behind bars.”
The organisation said in a statement issued on 23 October that 13 women activists are on trial in Saudi Arabia because of their human rights activism. It explained that some activists face charges of contacting foreign media and international organisations, including Amnesty International, while others are accused of promoting women’s rights and calling for an end to the system of male guardianship in the country.
Riyadh faces international criticism over the lack of freedom of expression and human rights in the country, despite repeatedly affirming its commitment to “enforcing the law with transparency.”
Saudi Arabia will host the online summit on Saturday and Sunday, amid calls from international human rights organisations and members of the US Congress to boycott the event in protest against the Kingdom’s human rights violations and its war in Yemen.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led an Arab coalition that has been carrying out military operations against the Houthis in Yemen. The fighting has killed 112,000 people, including 12,000 civilians, and forced 80 per cent of the population of around 30 million to rely on aid to survive. The UN has described it as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The annual G20 summit is the main forum for international economic cooperation, where leaders from all continents representing developed and developing countries meet to discuss financial, social and economic issues. The G20 member states, in which two-thirds of the world’s population live, have between them around 80 per cent of the global economic output and monopolise three quarters of the volume of global trade.
The G20 are the United States, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Australia and the European Union.