Saudi Arabia suspends Toronto flights in row with Canada

Published : 07 Aug 2018, 12:59

Jagoroniya Desk
Samar Badawi - a prominent human rights campaigner whose brother is serving a 10-year sentence - was arrested last week

Saudi Arabia's state airliner has suspended its direct flights to Toronto after Canada called for the release of detained activists for civil society and women's rights.

The Middle Eastern country has also frozen all trade and expelled Canada's ambassador over the "interference".

Canada has responded by saying it "will continue to advocate for human rights".

Those held include the Saudi-American human rights campaigner Samar Badawi, sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was "deeply concerned" by the diplomat's expulsion, but added: "Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression around the world.

"We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy."

People on social media have been quick to point out the similarities between the image and images of 9/11.

The account has since been deleted, but cached versions of the tweet are circulating online.

Who is being held?

Last Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 15 human rights defenders and women's rights activists critical of the Saudi government had been arrested or detained arbitrarily since 15 May.

Eight of them are believed to have been released pending "procedural reviews", but the whereabouts of several others are unknown.

Several of those detained have been accused of serious crimes, including "suspicious contact with foreign parties", and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Human rights groups reported that Ms Badawi was also detained last week, along with fellow women's rights campaigner Nassima al-Sadah.

Ms Badawi was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

Source: bbc

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