In order to force Riyadh to stop the coalition air strikes it is leading in Yemen, Canada and other “middle powers” must stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, says Farida Deif, director of Human Rights Watch for Canada.
Ms. Deif made this call on Thursday when Human Rights Watch (HRW) tabled its annual report on the human rights situation in 100 countries.
The HRW Director for Canada invites not only Canada, but also Denmark, Mexico, Germany and other “middle powers” to continue to defend human rights around the world. In doing so, it advises them not to give in to intimidation by “repressive governments like Saudi Arabia” when they are criticized for “their acts of violence”.
Following the “brutal murder” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, Deif said Germany and Sweden have announced that they will suspend their arms exports to Riyadh.
“Other countries, including Canada, should do the same and block all arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it is forced to stop illegal air strikes in Yemen and credibly investigate alleged violations,” says Farida Deif.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition since March 2015 that supports the Yemeni pro-government forces in their war against the Houthi rebels. At least 10,000 people have died in the conflict. Millions of people are also at risk of starvation.
A growing mobilization for freedom
Overall, however, the organization’s assessment is not all black and white. HRW argues that the most important development of the past year has been the growing mobilization of governments, civic groups and popular movements against “those who seek to curtail freedoms”.
In the report unveiled in Berlin, HRW explains that this resistance is embodied in efforts to protect democracy in Europe, to prevent a bloodbath in Syria or to stop Saudi attacks against Yemeni civilians.
“The same populists who spread hatred and intolerance fuel a resistance that continues to win victories,” said Kenneth Roth, director of HRW. According to Mr. Roth, “significant battles have been won, giving new energy to the global defence of human rights.