Letter: Amnesty International questions Canada’s link with Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan [inundated with] the huge numbers of Syrian refugees…Saudi Arabia, has accepted none.

To the editor:

Amnesty International has put out an urgent action on behalf of a 21-year-old Saudi Arabian man who may be beheaded. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested when he was 17 for participating in demonstrations against the government. His confession was obtained under torture. Saudi Arabia has executed over 100 people already this year.

Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian whose wife is living in Montreal, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes and a huge fine on charges of insulting Islam and creating a website for social and political debate. There was such a world-wide outcry that after his first series of lashes months ago he has received no more but is still being held.

Despite this record, Saudi Arabia has been chosen to chair a United Nations Human Rights Council that oversees nominations to key special rapporteurs and experts. Also despite this record, in April the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation, brokered a deal to supply $15 billion worth of Canadian-made armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia over the next decade, in what is by far the largest military export contract in Canada’s history. Canada’s export control policy calls for a thorough human rights assessment to be conducted before a permit can be issued for a military export deal. However the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development was unable to produce any human rights reports for the year when the deal was announced (2014) or for the year before. Even if the assessments had been conducted the department has said that it would not reveal their contents to the Canadian public, citing “commercial confidentiality.”

In April the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) was announced—from control by western grain growers to a U.S. multinational grain dealer and a unit of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company established by Saudi Arabia’s king in 2011. The unit is known as SALIC Canada Ltd. The CWB was formed in Parliament in 1935 to guarantee farmers would get fair prices for their wheat and barley. Under CWB legislation a vote was required by farmers to decide whether or not they wanted to stay with the CWB. The vote was not held and since then growers are not getting anywhere near the return they used to under CWB.

Meanwhile Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are under enormous pressure from the huge numbers of Syrian refugees that have fled across their borders to safety. Their neighbour, Saudi Arabia, has accepted none.

Why are we supporting a country like Saudi Arabia, described by Washington-based Freedom House as among “the worst of the worst” of human rights offenders in the world? The kind of relationship our government has with Saudi Arabia has to be ended and this relationship is just one more reason not to vote for the Conservatives.

Peter Kerr, Kelowna

 

Just Posted

Three UBC Okanagan students awarded women in tech scholarships

Computer science and math students hope the award will inspire others

Missing Kelowna woman, Cassy Miller found dead

Miller went missing Nov. 6 and was found 10 days later

Rockets break four game losing streak in Edmonton

The Rockets defeated the Oil Kings 3-1

Okanagan Floral Design students create elaborate Christmas arrangements

The students are making the floral arrangements as part of the Homes for the Holidays tour

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Crash closes Highway 33 south of Kelowna

Estimated time of re-opening is 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

South region forestry workers nearly in legal strike position

Talks broke down between USW and IFLRA, resulting in booking out of provincial mediator

Most Read