New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his withdrawal from the “Urban 20” summit of mayors of major cities in the “Group of 20”, due to start next Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, due to concerns related to human rights violations.
De Blasio’s announcement comes amid calls from international organizations to boycott the event, in solidarity with the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, and to reject human rights violations.
De Blasio said that it is not possible to lead the world without raising a voice in criticism of injustice, and urged his colleagues in other global cities to join him in withdrawing from the summit this year.
“The (Covid-19) epidemic has shown the importance of the world’s cities working together while standing up for what is right,” said de Blasio.
“We cannot lead the world without raising our voice in criticizing injustice. I urge my colleagues in other global cities to join me in withdrawing from the 20 th summit this year,” he added.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi government or event organizers.
More than 10 international human rights organizations, in a joint letter last week, appealed to the mayors of 9 global cities, including New York, to boycott the summit if Saudi Arabia did not release imprisoned activists, including women, and did not hold accountable those responsible for Khashoggi’s crime.
Swipe and back off
The letter said that the Saudi government is neither qualified nor suitable to host the “Group of 20” summit and the “Urban 20” conference.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in a case that shook international public opinion, with accusations that Riyadh denied that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman issued the order to assassinate him.
On September 7, a Saudi court finally retracted the death sentences imposed on those convicted of Khashoggi’s murder, contenting it with imprisonment of 8, with sentences varying between 20, 7 and 10 years, and closing the course of the case.