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US lawmakers urge boycott of Saudi G20 summit

October 22, 2020 at 3:16 pm

G20 Leaders Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 2017 [Kayhan Özer/Anadolu Agency]

Members of the US Congress have called on the government to boycott the G20 summit being held in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh next month, amid concerns over the Kingdom’s human rights record.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the 45 Congress members said that, “As the world’s leading democracy and purveyor of human rights [sic], our government should demand dramatic changes to Saudi Arabia’s dismal record of human rights violations.”

They urged the Trump administration to boycott the summit unless Saudi Arabia addresses its human rights violations and implements reforms. “Should the Saudi government fail to take immediate steps to address this record,” they insisted, “we should withdraw from the Saudi-led G20 summit and commit to making human rights reforms a condition of all future dealings with Saudi Arabia’s government.”

READ: Europe Parliament seeks sanctions on Saudis over Khashoggi murder

The Kingdom has been under heavy scrutiny over the past few years due to a number of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the Saudi government, including its war in Yemen since 2015, the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the attempted assassination of a former Saudi security chief and other dissidents, and the imprisonment and suspected torture of critics of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and his policies.

The call for a summit boycott — to be hosted for the first time by an Arab country — comes after European lawmakers also passed a resolution earlier this month calling for the downgrading of the EU’s attendance at the summit over the same human rights issues. A number of leading non-governmental organisations have also decided to boycott the event.

Among the prominent US lawmakers who signed the letter to Pompeo were Jan Schakowsky and Ilhan Omar, two Congresswomen in the Democrat Party which seeks to topple the Trump administration. US President Donald Trump has been supportive of the Saudi government throughout his term of office.

READ: HRW blasts hypocrisy of hosting global women’s summit in Riyadh