New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled out of Saudi’s virtual world cities summit, citing the kingdom’s human rights abuses.
The Urban 20 summit (U20) is meant to run from 30 September to 2 October, which de Blasio pointed out was the anniversary of the murder of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Mayor de Blasio said: “The global COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how crucial it is for cities across the world to work together while standing up for what’s right. We cannot lead the world without speaking out against injustices.”
He continued: “We must stand united for combating climate change, advancing peace and protecting human rights. I urge my colleagues in other global cities to join me in withdrawing from this year’s U20 summit and demanding progress.”
The U20 summit is a meeting of the world’s most powerful industrialised cities.
Several other city leaders have been urged by human rights activists to ditch the conference.
Following Khashoggi’s death, western agencies including the UN and the CIA found Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) was a prime suspect in the case and had ordered the assassination. Saudi officials denied he played a role.
Eight men have been jailed for between seven and 20 years for the murder, however many have pointed out none of the senior officials thought to have planned the murder have been put on trial.
In May, the family of the slain journalist said they forgave his murderers, paving the way for a reprieve for the five defendants sentenced to death.