A member of the U.K.’s House of Lords recently released a report urging the world’s 20 largest economies to refrain from attending this year’s G20 Summit, due to the fact that this year’s host Saudi Arabia continues to jail female activists and advocates for their release.
Baroness Helena Kennedy released the report ahead of last week’s G20 Summit and provided a list of alleged crimes committed by the activists according to Saudi Arabia and included the women “inviting and inciting people to change the political system; initiating a campaign on Twitter to request a new constitution and speaking to British journalists for a documentary about imprisonment in the kingdom.”
Kennedy said none of these accusations would amount to crimes in any decent nation and noted that the leading voices on women’s issues in Saudi Arabia, such as journalists, academics, intellectuals, and writers are women the country has decided to silence.
Human Rights Watch echoed Kennedy’s criticisms and called on the G20 group to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to release the female prisoners and take responsibility for past abuses.
They criticized the awarding of this year’s G20 presidency to Saudi Arabia amid their assault on fundamental freedoms, their unlawful attacks on Yemen, and their orchestration of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
While one of the themes of this year’s summit was “women’s empowerment,” about a dozen female activists including Loujain al-Hathloul, have been imprisoned since 2018. A report from UN Women earlier this month said 31-year old al-Hathloul’s health was deteriorating.
“These women are being detained because they are advocating for women’s rights and it is seen as an affront to the power structures of Saudi Arabia,” said Kennedy in her statement. The G20 Summit was held virtually November 21st and 22nd due to the current pandemic. So far, none of the activists jailed have been released.
The Realist Woman’s take:
What would Saudi Arabia know about women’s empowerment? It’s a joke. They host a summit with women wrongfully incarcerated and they want to talk about women’s empowerment and thnk people are going to take them seriously?
Baroness Kennedy was right to call them out and to advocate on behalf of these women. She was also right to ask other countries to pull out. But the thing about it is, the 20 largest economies all participating in this summit have relationships with Saudi Arabia. Basically, they condone what’s happening to Saudi’s female activists. There are economic interests that are more important to the 20 largest world economies than the rights of a few women. It’s appalling.