tv Inside Story 2018 Ep 219 Al Jazeera August 8, 2018 2:32pm-3:01pm +03
so the assaults journalists in custody will be prosecuted it follows allegations that the photo journalist shuttle was tortured after being arrested that happened just hours after he conducted an interview with al-jazeera on sunday human rights watch wants the government to investigate reports that he was beaten whilst in jail he was covering demonstrations by students who are demanding tougher traffic rules . the u.s. government has announced the final list of chinese products to be hit by new tariffs they will take effect in fifteen days a twenty five percent tariff will be applied to electronics chemicals and railway equipment don't trump pounds already placed tariffs on thirty four billion dollars worth of chinese goods in a growing trade war china to match the moves by washington you are right up to speed with all our top stories up next it's inside story i will see you very soon.
it was a simple tweet about human rights that outrage saudi arabia the government has now suspended flights and ended trade ties with canada but is international criticism enough to improve human rights in the kingdom this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program i'm a homage i'm joy in saudi arabia considers canada's comments on human rights in the kingdom to be an interference in its affairs that requires what it calls a sharp response it has expelled the canadian ambassador and recalled its on voice from ottawa. it's state owned airline has suspended direct flights to iran and the
government says it will in trade and investment ties it all began with a tweet from canada's foreign affairs ministry stating concerns over saudi arabia's arrest of rights activists and demanding their immediate release one of those activists mentioned that tweet is somewhat of by the week a relative of canadian citizens by the way and fellow activists and saga were arrested last month but who is the recipient of the two thousand and twelve international women of courage award who is known for challenging saudi arabia's male guardianship system she is the sister of blogger a five by the way and the former wife of a lawyer would be the world who are both serving lengthy jail terms in saudi prisons the canadian foreign minister says her country will not back down we will always speak up for human rights we will always speak up for women's rights around the world. and i do also want to say when it comes to the big dowie family.
and stuff haidar is a canadian citizen and she and her family therefore. merit special attention from the government of canada and a lot of canadian civil society has been speaking up for her it's something that we do we stand up for canadians and their families around the world earlier on monday saudi foreign minister i've been a debater tweeted saying the kingdom doesn't interfere in the affairs of other countries and we will not accept any interference attempts we will deal with this firmly the surprising canadian stance is based on misleading information the prosecution of those mentioned is subject to our judicial systems that guarantee their rights saudi authorities have arrested a number of people in recent days more than a dozen women's rights campaigners were detained in may on charges of undermining national security some have since been released dozens of clerics have also been arrested including leading preachers sedimented i woulda i would them cutting me
and suffered a. several high profile human rights activists are in jail and some have been referred to a counterterrorism tribunal for trial and saudi arabia is in prison nearly all the founders of the band saudi civil and political rights association. all right let's bring in our panel joining us in london rauf in a bag i'm a senior researcher in women's rights a human rights watch in leeds salon but i've got director of the center for conflict and humanitarian studies at the doha institute and in washington d.c. and about how to director of research and analysis at the arab center washington d.c. welcome to you all rough and i want to start with you we are really in uncharted territory these days when it comes to detention of activists in saudi arabia i mean there was a time not that long ago when the arrest of so many prominent women might be viewed as something that would engender a lot of anger in saudi society is not the case. absolutely this is an
unprecedented and unrelenting crackdown on all forms of dissent and criticism in the country now the difference this time is that it's highly unusual for the saudi authorities to one actually detain the activists and at the same time take credit for their reforms in previous times of course they've arrested and harassed and intimidated activists but never in a manner in which they the there was a concerted campaign of arrests before it was always in relation to something so the women defied the driving ban so they were arrested so it was sudden acts that led to them back being arrested this time around they were rounded up and arrested from the minute in the middle of the night from their homes in such a concerted a way with a smear campaign something we've not seen before eva saudi authorities are launching a very social media campaign to malign the reputation within side rabia and at the same time trying to make sure that they have a p.r. savvy campaign in order to ensure that the saudi crown prince mohammed bin someone is able to take full credit for the reforms that these women have been championing
for years. let me ask you does this does this you know crack down and also this rift now with canada does this have a risk at all of back firing on the crown prince mohammed bin so much from either inside or outside the king. well to me the truth i mean how can it not backfired on him unfortunately this is an almost irrational action i mean it's just an emotional impulse and he acted on it i don't think that the reading makes his case any better domestically or internationally for what he says you know he's trying to you know to to kingdom that basically on the cusp of modernization or that i don't think that modernization comes by arresting woman or any civil society activists what anybody for that matter so i really doubt that this is going to help the saudi
cause at all so time does the fact that canada granted citizenship in early july to and soft hi there who is the wife of jailed saudi blogger and activist that i have by the way does that play into this i mean how angry was saudi arabia about that and has that added you know fuel to this fire you know that emerged because of the tweet. well i think the citizenship was granted the earlier this year but the asylum was given back in two thousand and fifteen and right of a dive he was imprisoned in saudi arabia in two thousand and twelve so canada in a way has something to to justify why they should be concerned about what's going on in saudi arabia however i think probably the medium in which and the way in which they reacted was very unfortunate i think this is there to two stories here one is the crackdown within saudi arabia and the second is a lesson to all that you cannot really conduct foreign policy based on tweets and
when they express their concerns of course i don't think that came directly from freedom and but it has been she has she she got implicated in it and the uni of warre is the way it escalated so quickly over the last few days and i think again the saudi. totally irrational response as a series of responses that followed that tweet made the situation much worse and in these circumstances i think it will very quickly grow beyond that initial family problem and the sister in law of. the day we are often if we could just step back for a minute because our viewers are hearing a lot of names they may not be familiar with saudi human rights activists both female and male who have been detained the past few months let's talk specifically for a moment about somebody by the way she is the person who was mentioned by name in that tweet by the canadian embassy in saudi arabia let's talk for
a moment about somebody but do we have course she's known for being a very prominent human rights activist herself a recipient of u.s. state department award in two thousand and twelve formerly married to a double care very prominent rights lawyer saudi arabia has been jailed sister of by the way very prominent blogger who's in jail in saudi arabia why would she be targeted now. that's a question that's actually been on many people's minds who actually know someone by the way summer is a prominent women's rights activist not as you say not just awarded but for the very activism that she's campaigned on inside reveals she herself was a victim of the abusive male guardianship system she forward in the courts to remove the guardianship from her father to her brother she also sued the government in a number of occasions because of just going to policies like for instance the driving ban so she sued the government in trying to ensure because they didn't give her driver's license back some years ago she also sued the government for not allowing her to stand at the miss because elections a fight that they later won because in part of these actions now some are have
actually gone through the quiet there was an intimidation campaign by the authorities against women's rights activists and they were clearly concerned by that some of them may still be speaking to the media around the time of the driving ban being lifted because that was a time when international journalists were flying into saudi arabia to cover the this reform and so a lot of these women were arrested but some are wasn't and why she's been arrested now is unclear but she is not the only one who's been arrested two other women have also been arrested and it seems as if they're trying to get rid of all vestiges of activists within the who may have the potential to speak out or you know just make it very clear that you simply even for your previous activism you cannot stay within the country without being prosecuted and just to be aware of summer but that we actually had a travel ban on her before she was actually arrested and this is been going on for some time now i'm a u.s. leadership you know has been close for decades with saudi arabia but you know they
have been critical in the past at least somewhat of human rights policies in saudi arabia that seems to have stopped with the trumpet ministration is the fact that the u.s. is no longer being vocal when it comes to perceived rights abuses in saudi arabia is that emboldening the saudi regime well it's a. unfortunately yes the white house has basically conduct on the issue of protecting democracy and human rights around the world and including in the gulf and saudi arabia is one of those states which washington basically tries always to avoid. to criticize but the last year's state department report on human rights mentioned issues of spouses and things like that and saudi arabia but yes i on the other hand say that maybe the record and so did leadership
is that this is a really waiting for the trumpet a musician to approve or disapprove of what they're trying to do they have a program they have a program of modernization all that and they say they think that all of this is going to affect their modernization efforts which is which is definitely wrong so i doubt that the time but musician whatever of london musician does or does the size or does not fit the size i think the saudi leadership will continue to do whatever it wants to do to gandhi human rights and democracy to do the heavy development assault on critics of canadian prime minister justin trudeau have have charged that he has not been strong enough in the past of his criticism of saudi arabia and they say the fact that he is allowing arms deals to saudi arabia that were negotiated before his tenure to go through that that shouldn't happen and some have said that this criticism that has come up in the last few days is really just essentially a p.r. move to deflect criticism that he's been receiving because of the arms deal what do
you say to all that is there merit to that. well canada like sweden and others can and even countries have declared the human rights and feminist agenda very much central to their foreign policy and they've been very proud of this the go around the world speaking about this policy and i think that has raised expectations particularly within human rights corners advocates. southern countries mostly that they expect a stronger stand from canada and those countries that. are far as developing a lobby in that direction now that hasn't been coming forthcoming and of course the real disappointment has been around yemen the whole intervention in yemen it attracted very little criticism from those countries that acted cism and from the americans as well know this i go back to the point that i think it's been
an fortunate incidence and had the saudis chosen not to respond to the tweet probably nobody would have noticed it over if you would have noticed that i don't think conducting foreign policy affecting changes. is going to be code on twitter i think the canadians should and could have written to the saudis sean more support and then it may be behind the scene they're doing all this and the saudis are not responding but there are other channels for for press to place pressure on the saudis at this very important critical time given their agenda of modernization and given their very broad interventions around the middle east so that they do need critical friends and i think canada could be one of those friends that chose the saudi the right way ok to leave but it has to be done in a way that the saudis feel appropriate and not insulting roughen amnesty international has called for the international community to speak out against
rights abuses rights abuses in saudi arabia can we expect to be hearing more from countries specifically the u.k. and france at this time. if the u.k. france and other e.u. states other countries allies decide to review and care about human rights care about women's lives as they supposed to according to their charters and within their own laws they should be standing up and declaring their support for what canada has said and urging the release all of these activists inside arabia the fact that they have been silent so far is deafening the silence is absolutely deafening and it sort of leaves the side raving authorities much more emboldened because what that's what they really doing is they're trying to silence all of the critics not just internally but externally by reacting so harshly and so aggressively against the canadian authorities they want to make it clear these are the consequences of what it means when you criticize us but the u.k. france and others if they stood up at the same time and said no in these cases you
can't call simply a criticizing you simply urging you to release some activists as unlawful interference then you know that would then show that he has to continue trading with many countries and if all of these countries stood up and said something they would then be pushed they would be required to actually respond in a more adequate munna but right now they're getting away with the idea that this so-called interference when it is just normal in adequate criticism that is absolutely reasonable in the circumstance they're getting away with and i'm not saudi arabia of course have been trying to burnish its image especially with the west i mean you had crown prince mohammed bin some you know take that trip to the united states really put on a charm offensive with potential investors and with government figures how does something like this help that i mean we keep talking about this in the past few months even in the run up to women driving in saudi arabia finally they were granted the women to drive in the run up to that some of the most prominent activists who called for the right to drive they were arrested and there was
outrage because of that i mean what is the in game here when it comes to public relations and saudi arabia and all the. well for one thing there is that is unfortunately a little ignorance of what the preserve what the what the function of public relations is i mean you have to read the always work on your image abroad but i think the underlying truth here is that the saudi leadership and many bitter ships like it consider the economic relations to be separate from political relations or political reputations around the world so i think the they could own prince baby thinks that if i strike deals enough deals with the companies and make sure that for instance you know what american president is happy with how many jobs i'm helping to create in the united states maybe then they won't say anything about our
human rights record but. it's very difficult to day in our day and age to really separate economics from politics or from the reputations of states this is not it's not helpful you know war and it's not only this i mean of the war in yemen is obviously not helpful yes you know what the american administration is happy because they're buying weapons to use in the war and all that but you know what killing children and women and different places by the way they're not the only one doing the killing whole bunch of others are doing the killing but it's really does not serve any purpose of public relations here so don we were just talking the economic aspect of this and i could ask you to expand on some of what i might was saying i mean saudi arabia is going to great lengths these days to tell potential investors that it is open for business there is the crown prince's saudi vision twenty thirty initiative how does this help that at a time they're trying to bring investors to saudi arabia wouldn't potential
investors be scared. of course they would i don't think it's helping at all i think it's another episode of shooting themselves in the foot as a result of this rush to reaction and the reliance on. facebook and twitter and so on as a form of communication the trade relations between canada and saudi arabia around maybe four billion dollars a year mostly exports to canada from saudi arabia and they have a huge program of higher degree higher education so he's going to kind of for education health as cetera and stopping all this all of a sudden is really causing a lot of hardship to to the saudi citizens themselves first to suddenly expect students to switch and look for other places where they cannot continue their studies in canada or to arsk. patients to look for alternative
sources of medication and so on it's too difficult for those individuals and i think the saudis should show more concern to their own citizenship and and really react in a much more measured way which is becoming extremely difficult giving the way mom advance a man seems to have. given the rein to some of his advisers to conduct policy over or over twitter the moment they tweet is very difficult to attract they say they find it too embarrassing to say sorry even when they publish this very unfortunate image of an aircraft. flying towards toronto they are in english they apologized in that a big they did not dare to apologize they just would do it now i think someone should really be taking control and if saudi arabia and muhammad is a man is serious about his modernization reform so banfield and i'm starting to as
i felt i should just mention there there was an apollo. by those who issued that tweet of the of the plane the image of the plane there was an apology that was issued hours after that was generated and. there was an admission that it was inappropriate but the texan arabic never said sorry ok but i met read a tweet but this is what i did in arabic and english it's clearly apologized for causing any stress or thanks for clarifying you know your personal phone there talk about how he believes that saudi leadership should show greater care or in pathy to their citizens is there any way to actually gauge what saudi citizens are feeling i mean clearly people in saudi arabia are afraid to speak out because the representations if there seem to be seen criticizing the government there could be severe consequences so can you actually gauge what the saudi public feels about what the government is doing right now. unfortunately you can't we have no idea
really what the vast majority of side regions really feel about what the government is doing i think there is a genuine concern of course that the saudi authorities are really cracking down on dissent but the fear now has penetrated that they cannot say anything i mean this is these are saudi arabians who are prominent on social media they're like one of the biggest users of twitter in the country in the world i mean and yet you know when you look at the kind of reactions like of what's happening with canada the vast majority of those attacking and the sort of things that are happening they usually try to bots the usually done in the sudden kind of manner that suggests these are on recruits these are not regular side arabians who are showing outrage about what side really is doing and about what side rubin's allies are saying about them and so it's not really clear what the side re bins are able to say or think we will never really know because the saudi authorities will not allow a polling you know won't allow for the for the outrage to really to to come out in
public and if anything those who have been somewhat critical of so for instance after the arrest of the women's rights activist one woman had tweeted her support of those women who had been arrested she was arrested shortly after her friend then posted the letter to she had prepared if she was arrested in that instance and then that friend was arrested now that friend was not not an active is she simply posted something her friend out also to do online and the previous friend was also not really a prominent activist either she just showed support for these activists so it's a very very clear you cannot not only be an activist you cannot express yourself but you also cannot show some support for these activists so they are really going out of the way to silence saudis to even a you know to prohibit them from coming out and speaking their minds and what we all you really see are the twitter bots that will come out in support of the saudi government so we don't have a whole lot of time left i want to give you the last word here this is not expected to have much of an impact on canada's economy are the biggest losers you're going
to be those fifteen or sixteen thousand students that potentially will have to leave canada and get education elsewhere now these saudi students. in the immediate terms i think it is the saudi students and patients who are going to suffer most and those who don't will business holidaying travelling directly between so dear abia and canada but in the long term of this escalates further i mean there is a thirteen billion dollar deal or at least initiate a deal between sodhi and canada to provide them with armored vehicles and maybe this is a good reminder in a way it could it could there could be a silver lining to all this is that you can't buy your way over issues global issues of human rights that have become more and more central in the way we conduct our affairs so when t. is important intervention is not acceptable but increasingly human rights.
there's a global agreement that you can and you should interfere and maybe make some noises or highlight issues and only in extreme cases it could justify a responsibility to protect in certain circumstances now that of course it is not going to reach that level but i think it's good that canada has spoken out it's important that other countries do the same but we should do it in a medium and in ways in the channels that are established for doing this sort of business through you know embassies and and foreign policy mechanisms all right we're going to have to leave it there we're out of time thanks so much to all our guests rotten a big time but a card and i'm out how to and thank you too for watching you can see the program again any time by visiting our website al-jazeera dot com and for further discussion go to our facebook page at facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter our handle is add a.j. can type story for me mohammed and join in the entire team here by for now.
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a school of reality that usually gets into the blood. center here america's ortega's former vice president talks to al jazeera. and we shall carry on doha these are the top stories right now on al-jazeera israeli knesset is holding a special session on the new and controversial nation state law a law formally affirms israel's jewish character and makes hebrew the country's sole official language a status previously shared by arabic it has provoked widespread protests stephanie decker has more from lustrous. the debate happening inside the knesset inside the israeli parliament isn't going to change anything to the rule today but it highlights the controversy that this law has caused debate going on inside the knesset heated debate we heard from my t.v. he's a palace soon israeli member of knesset saying that this is an apartheid rule this