NUJ demand perpetrators of Khashoggi killing are ‘put behind bars’

Demonstration outside the Saudi Embassy last October demanding justice after Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi embassy in Turkey on October 2nd 2018

ONE year on from the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey but never came out again, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called for justice.

On Tuesday 2nd October 2018 at 13:14, dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but that was the last that was seen of him.

It is held that he was brutally murdered by a Saudi hit squad and his body dismembered.

The union said: ‘The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) were quick to condemn the crime and today, one year on, we renew calls on the international community to launch an independent investigation to ensure all the intellectual and material perpetrators are put behind bars.

‘Twelve months after Khashoggi’s killing, there are plenty of unanswered questions. Where is his body? Who ordered his killing? Who sent up to 15 Saudi men – a hit squad including a forensic expert – to Istanbul? Why did the Saudi authorities, including the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, consistently deny any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate and only acknowledged his murder a few weeks after?

‘No light has been shed on any of these questions. On the contrary, the obscurantism and secrecy of the Saudi inquiry highlights even more the need for a transparent and independent international investigation into the case. There must be no impunity.

‘Since the beginning, the Saudi authorities have given contradictory explanations of what happened. First, they claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate one hour after his arrival. Then they admitted his death saying he was killed by “rogue individuals” who exceeded their responsibilities.

‘So far, the Saudi justice system has arrested 18 people and five senior officials were fired as part of the investigation. On 3rd January, 11 individuals were sent to trial accused of being connected with the killing. However, the trial took place behind closed doors and details of the defendants’ identities have not been made public.

‘In addition to the secrecy and lack of transparency of the Saudi judicial proceedings, authorities are trying to buy the Khashoggi family’s silence and cover up the truth, The Washington Post has reported.

‘Considering the evident efforts of the Saudi authorities to prevent justice from being done, the IFJ has repeatedly called for an independent international investigation to shed light on this gruesome murder.’

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said: ‘It’s been a year since Khashoggi’s murder and there’s still no justice for those who ordered and executed his murder. We will continue demanding an international and independent investigation on this crime and rejecting any kind of political cover-up of it.

‘If the perpetrators are not held to account, oppressive governments of the world will see it as a green light to commit crimes against journalists with impunity. We won’t allow it.’

According to the IFJ, 95 journalists were killed in 2018 but only one out of 10 killings of journalists is ever resolved.

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Vice Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman, met in Abu Dhabi last Sunday to discuss military matters and ‘challenges’ facing the Persian Gulf region, the UAE state news agency WAM reported.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key partners in the Saudi-led military invasion of Yemen.

Last month, the Yemeni Houthi movement offered to halt its retaliatory attacks against Saudi Arabia if the kingdom ends its bombing campaign against Yemen.

Prince Khalid said on Friday Saudi Arabia viewed the truce ‘positively,’ adding ‘this is what we have always sought, and hope it will be implemented effectively.’

The offer and the kingdom’s belated welcome followed a recent major ground operation by the Yemenis and a daring drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, which knocked out some 50 per cent of its output.

Differences between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi emerged after the UAE reduced its presence in June in a move seen as an attempt to restore the Persian Gulf country’s reputation.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain conducted two joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf.

The official Saudi Press Agency SPA said Saudi naval and air forces as well as the Royal Bahrain Navy took part in the exercises dubbed ‘Jisr-20’ and ‘Amwaj-4’.

The exercises ‘aim to help counter-terrorist operations on oil installations and protect territorial waters’ in the Persian Gulf.

They also aim to ‘strengthen cooperation and exchange expertise between the Saudi armed forces and their Bahraini counterparts.’

Meanwhile, the Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement has condemned the United States for hindering peace efforts in Yemen, and described Washington as an ‘accomplice’ in the Saudi-led military aggression against the country.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, made the remarks in an interview with the Turkish daily Gazeteduvar on Saturday.

He said that aggression against Yemen will not end until the US, Israel, Britain, and France end their support for the aggressors.

Al-Houthi added that Yemeni forces are fighting in line with right to self defence, while stressing that the Houthi supreme political council welcomed any dialogue aimed at achieving peace.

He described as a ‘war crime’ the Saudi-led blockade of his country which ‘has created the worst humanitarian crisis ever.’

And he pointed to the Houthis’ offer of truce as a peaceful way out of the crisis – while warning that if the Saudis reject the plan, they will suffer fatal losses.

  • Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, has warned the Saudis not to ‘think they can change the game.’

Ansarullah ‘will never accept a partial halt to the Saudi attacks on Yemen in return for a total halt on our part,’ he said.

He also blasted the United Arab Emirates’ move to deploy 100 military vehicles in Taiz as ‘wrong’, calling militarisation of al-Makha port in Yemen a violation of international laws.

‘We will not remain silent in the face of the militaristic movements of the UAE. The Emirates must leave Yemen completely.’ he said.

In a separate development, last Saturday an unspecified number of Saudi mercenaries were killed or wounded when a bomb exploded in Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf, Yemen’s al-Masirah news website reported.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies (primarily the UAE) launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of ousted President Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a ‘nonprofit conflict-research organisation’ estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

Millions have been pushed to the brink of famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Last month, a local non-government organisation said even the water supply in Yemen has been ‘weaponised’, referring to the country’s unclean water, which is infected with cholera.

There are at least 18 million Yemenis with no access to drinking water.

In the past years, the shortage of drinking water triggered a cholera outbreak that impacted 1.2 million people, making the epidemic the largest in history.

According to the Yemen Data Project, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels has carried out 20,000 air attacks, one-third of which were on non-military sites, including hospitals and schools.

The damage, combined with an air, naval and maritime blockade imposed on the northern areas, have paralysed people’s access to basic goods.

At malnutrition prevention centres across the country, dozens of people queue every day for hours for a medical examination and a small pack of soy.

The Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen reported 18,546 suspected cholera cases and 10 associated deaths during the week 20 August-1st September) 2019 alone, ten per cent of the cases were severe.

The cumulative total number of suspected cholera cases from 1st January 2018 to 1st September 2019 is 991,674, with 1,350 associated deaths. Children under five represent 25 per cent of total suspected cases during 2019.