Saudi Arabian dissidents launch opposition party to end “repression”

Former Saudi Air Force officer and human rights activist Yahya Assiri is seen as Amnesty International unveils a new street sign outside the embassy of Saudi Arabia in The Hague, Netherlands, to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, October 2, 2019. reimposes “public charge” wealth test for immigrants

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“We are announcing the launch of this party at a critical moment to try to save our country… Rasheed, the party’s spokeswoman, stressed that its founders had “no personal animosity with the ruling family.”But the absence of an independent judiciary, the government’s tight control of the local media and “muzzling of public opinion” were other factors that led to the group’s formation, the party statement said.Saudi Arabia has long faced international criticism over its human rights record. First published on September 24, 2020 / 7:33 AM Pierre Crom/Getty

Its members include Britain-based academic Madawi al-Rasheed, researcher Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, activist Ahmed al-Mshikhs, U.S.-based Abdullah Alaoudh and Canada-based Omar Abdulaziz, sources close to the outfit told AFP. 02:13

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That has intensified since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was named heir to the Saudi throne in June 2017.In particular, the grisly October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked unprecedented international scrutiny of the kingdom’s human rights record.The global fallout over the murder tarnished the crown prince’s carefully cultivated reputation as a reformer, casting a shadow over his ambitious attempts to modernise the conservative kingdom’s economy and society. Trending News

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U.S. to institute a democratic future and to respond to our people’s aspirations,” Assiri, the party’s general secretary, told AFP.Assiri, a former Royal Saudi Air Force officer, founded the London-based human rights organisation ALQST, which has catalogued what it calls widespread state abuses including arrests of women activists, academics and royal family members.The announcement comes at a time when “the scope for politics has become blocked in all directions,” the party statement said. “We hereby announce the establishment of the National Assembly Party, which aims to institute democracy as a form of government in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the group said in a statement.The development is unlikely to seriously undermine the authority of the Arab world’s most powerful ruling family. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

There was no immediate reaction from Saudi authorities, or from foreign governments including the United States’ that have deep, but often contentious and complicated relations with Riyadh.Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi weapons dealTrump calls Saudi Crown Prince a “friend of mine”Trump’s deep Saudi business ties bring new scrutiny The party is led by prominent London-based human rights defender Yahya Assiri. But the social reforms have been in lockstep with political repression, party members said.The party’s creation is a “very long overdue move,” said Alaoudh, whose father Salman al-Awda, a religious cleric, faces the death penalty after he was arrested in September 2017.The party seeks to protect the country from “upheaval and absolute dictatorship and pave the way for democracy in a peaceful transition,” Alaoudh told AFP. and elsewhere announced the launch of an opposition party on Wednesday, the first organized political resistance to King Salman’s rule. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman open the king’s domestic tour, Nov. UN: MBS should be probed in Khashoggi killing… Saudi Arabia dissidents launch opposition party to end “violence and repression”

September 24, 2020 / 7:33 AM
/ AFP

London — A group of Saudi dissidents exiled in Britain, the U.S. 6, 2018, in Qassim, in a photo posted to Twitter by Saudi Arabia’s state-run news organisation SPA

SPA

“The government constantly practices violence and repression, with mounting numbers of political arrests and assassinations, increasingly aggressive policies against regional states, enforced disappearances and people being driven to flee the country,” it added. But it poses a fresh challenge to Saudi Arabia’s rulers as they grapple with low crude oil prices and gear up to host a G20 summit in November amid the coronavirus pandemic. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any political opposition, and the formation of the National Assembly Party on the anniversary of the kingdom’s founding comes amid a growing state crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression.