By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 10, 2018.
It’s unfortunate thousands of Saudi Arabian students are getting caught in the crossfire as a new school year is about to begin, but the breakdown of relations between Canada and the Middle Eastern kingdom is news we can cheer.
Saudi Arabia is mad that Canada’s Global Affairs department tweeted it was “gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi.”
Badawi is the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, both with Canadian ties.
In a tantrum of Trumpian proportions, the Saudis booted out Canada’s ambassador and starting cutting diplomatic and economic ties. Saudi students attending Canadian colleges and universities have been summoned home.
Good. It’s about time we stopped dealing with one of the world’s most brutal and repressive regimes.
The Trudeau government failed to take a stand when it came to office and approved an arms-sales deal the previous government had negotiated with the Saudis.
Many Canadians opposed any deal that would help arm the Saudis, but workers at a General Dynamics plant in London, Ont., who are building the light-armoured vehicles, were thankful and are concerned about what will happen with their jobs if the Saudis cancel the contract.
Money trumped ethical considerations then, and as critics pointed out at the time, by helping to arm the Saudis, we’ve also helped them continue a brutal war that’s reducing Yemen to rubble.
Yes, the Saudis generally support the West in geopolitical matters, but that doesn’t make them our friends.
Look at what Amnesty International said about the Saudis in a summary of the regime’s behaviour in 2017-18:
“The authorities severely restricted freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Many human rights defenders and critics were detained and some were sentenced to lengthy prison terms after unfair trials. Several Shi’a activists were executed, and many more were sentenced to death following grossly unfair trials É Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common. Despite limited reforms, women faced systemic discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence. The authorities used the death penalty extensively, carrying out scores of executions.”
“Members of the Shi’a Muslim minority continued to face discrimination because of their faith, limiting their right to express religious beliefs and their access to justice, and arbitrarily restricting other rights, including the rights to work and to state services. Shi’a activists continued to face arrest, imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty following unfair trials.
“Courts continued to impose death sentences for a range of crimes, including drug offences or for conduct that under international standards should not be criminalized, such as ‘sorcery’ and ‘adultery.’ Many defendants were sentenced to death after unfair trialsÉ”
And that’s just the overview.
Almost as surprising as the Saudi overreaction has been the underreaction of Canada’s Western allies. Britain and the United States basically responded that both countries are allies and they hope the differences can be worked out.
The world has turned a blind eye to the Saudis for too long. Canada has been put in a position where we can be the first to say “enough.”
An editorial from the Kelowna Courier
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