Pressure is mounting on British Prime Minister Theresa May to vote against Saudi Arabia’s retention of the United Nations human rights council chair after a year which saw Riyadh viciously bomb Yemen, commit vast numbers of beheadings, a mass execution and detain activists.
Critics of the Saudi regime in Britain will make their demand on the UK government during the World Humanitarian Day, which is on Friday, 19 August.
The call comes ahead of the crucial UN vote to elect the chair the UNHRC, which Saudi Arabia has controversially held since this time last year.
The UK has so far refused to rule out re-electing Saudi Arabia to chair the UNHRC, despite the repeated and well publicised atrocities of Riyadh. Saudi’s appointment as head of the UNHRC means it has influence over international human rights standards and reports on violations.
Politicians and campaigners say the vote on 13 September is an opportunity for May’s new government to show it really values human rights.
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Tom Brake accused the government of making “endless excuses for the Saudi regime”.
Details have recently emerged about large quantities of bombs, military aircraft, and other weapons Britain is selling to Saudi Arabia, some of which have been used in the war against Yemen that has been described as a “human catastrophe”.
Amnesty International meanwhile demanded the UK hold Saudi to account for “its appalling human rights record and the ongoing war crimes in Yemen”. Amnesty’s UK Foreign Policy Programme Director Polly Truscott said: “There’s no way Saudi Arabia should be on the Human Rights Council. Nothing’s changed since we called for their suspension in June.”
“Rather than turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continuing bully tactics, the UK should publicly hold the Saudi authorities to account for its appalling human rights record and the ongoing war crimes in Yemen and should stop selling weapons to Saudi as a matter of urgency.”
Saudi Arabia started a military campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Nearly 10,000 Yemenis, mostly civilians, have been killed in the military aggression.