Seriously concerned and seeking greater clarity from Saudi Arabia: Canada

WION Web Team
Ottawa, ON, Canada Published: Aug 06, 2018, 07:12 PM(IST)

File photo: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In April, PM Justin Trudeau in a meeting with Saudi King Salman had expressed "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Badawi.

Amid reports of Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian diplomats over PM Trudeau's government requesting Riyadh to free arrested civil society activists, Canada said was "seriously concerned" about the latest development.

"We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Canadian foreign ministry said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's regime recalled its ambassador from Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country as the controversy blew up into a major crisis.

Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch had said Saudi Arabia had arrested women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. 

On Friday, Canada said it was "gravely concerned" about the arrests of civil society and women's activists in Saudi Arabia, including Badawi, the sister of jailed dissident blogger Raif Badawi. Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

Human Rights Watch had called it "unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement". The development comes even as Prince Salman's regime has introduced a slew of reforms aimed at women's empowerment.

In April, PM Justin Trudeau in a meeting with Saudi King Salman had expressed "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Badawi.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists," the foreign ministry had tweeted.

"Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs," Saudi Arabia said in a statement, adding,"using the phrase 'immediately release' in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states."

The ministry also announced "the freezing of all new trade and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted.

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