It is time the UK government ceased its support for a Saudi state that terrorises its own people and blatantly violates human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Saudi Arabia ought to be treated as a global pariah, following the decision of its supreme court to uphold the sentence of 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes on Raif Badawi for the crime of expressing the wrong opinions. But there is no sign that this sadistic cruelty is disturbing the close and decades-long friendship between Whitehall and Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is currently the UK’s largest arms export market. It is a nonsense to claim, as ministers do, that this military cooperation is about nothing more than the Saudis’ right to self-defence. The reason we do not arm Iran, Syria or North Korea is that arms sales are inescapably an expression of political support and commitment to regime survival.
We urge David Cameron to speak out publicly against all human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and to specifically call for the immediate unconditional release of Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair – and all political prisoners. The UK government should cease its support for a Saudi state that terrorises its own people and blatantly violates human rights and fundamental freedoms: Arms sales must end, the British ambassador should be recalled, and key regime figures sanctioned internationally.
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