‘We won’t keep silent’: Ja­mal Khashoggi sup­port­ers de­mand jus­tice

Sunday Trust - - FOREIGN FEATURE -

Aman wear­ing a mask of Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man (MBS), fake blood on his hands, stood in front of the con­sulate where jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi was killed more than three weeks ago.

The man was a mem­ber of a group called the Ja­mal Khashoggi Friends As­so­ci­a­tion, which de­manded jus­tice for the killing of the Saudi writer dur­ing a vigil out­side the Saudi of­fice on Thurs­day night.

“On this occasion, and from this place where the spirit of Ja­mal has been lost, we clearly state that we will not ac­cept com­pro­mises in the case of his mur­der, and that we will not keep silent on any at­tempt to evade any crim­i­nal from ac­count­abil­ity and pun­ish­ment,” the group’s spokesper­son said in a state­ment.

The vigil came just hours af­ter Saudi Ara­bia’s pub­lic prosecutor said the Oc­to­ber 2 mur­der of the Saudi critic was pre­med­i­tated. The state­ment marked yet an­other re­ver­sal of pre­vi­ous re­marks made Saudi of­fi­cials.

Khashoggi’s sup­port­ers also gath­ered in sev­eral other cities around the world, in­clud­ing Paris and Wash­ing­ton, DC, call­ing for those re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der to be held ac­count­able.

“Friends of Ja­mal from sev­eral coun­tries met to es­tab­lish this group, which aims to pur­sue and achieve full jus­tice for Ja­mal [and] pros­e­cute the mur­der­ers with­out any im­punity,” the group said in Is­tan­bul.

“We also seek to con­front any sim­i­lar crime against any opin­ion leader and de­fend the free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the Mid­dle East re­gion,” it added.

But the event was not just a call for jus­tice for the slain Saudi jour­nal­ist, it was an ap­peal to lead­ers in the Mid­dle East to re­spect free­dom of speech, high­light­ing that jour­nal­ism is not a crime.

In a re­gion where jour­nal­ists, ac­tivists and hu­man rights de­fend­ers are reg­u­larly put be­hind bars, the Khashoggi mur­der high­lighted the dan­gers jour­nal­ists can face.

“We also call upon the gov­ern­ments of the re­gion to safe­guard th­ese lib­er­ties, guar­an­teed by their con­sti­tu­tions and laws,” the group said.

“We call for re­spect­ing free­dom of the press and pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity and safety for those work­ing in the me­dia so that they can carry out their mis­sion with­out fear or in­tim­i­da­tion,” it said.

Erol On­deroglu, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Re­porters With­out Bor­ders, said the state­ment made was im­por­tant for jour­nal­ists all over the Mid­dle East.

“I hope this ini­tia­tive will cre­ate strong res­o­nance in devel­op­ing an ef­fi­cient pro­tec­tion for jour­nal­ists at a global level,” On­deroglu told Al Jazeera.

“It is also im­por­tant that Ara­bic jour­nal­ists based in Turkey start to feel more se­cure,” he added.

Or­gan­is­ers of the vigil de­manded all “pris­on­ers of con­science in the Mid­dle East be re­leased.”

“Since Ja­mal, may God have mercy on him, had com­mit­ted him­self to de­fend the opin­ion lead­ers of his coun­try, who are now de­tained by Saudi au­thor­i­ties, we will con­tinue to de­mand that all au­thor­i­ties across the Mid­dle East im­me­di­ately re­lease all opin­ion lead­ers and po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers,” their state­ment added.

“We will fol­low all le­git­i­mate means to achieve full jus­tice for Ja­mal, so as not to wake up to an­other mur­dered Ja­mal.”

PHOTO:

Peo­ple hold posters of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi dur­ing a protest or­ga­nized by mem­bers of the Turk­ish-Ara­bic Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion at the en­trance to the Saudi Ara­bia Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oct. 5, 2018. Getty Im­ages

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