“The Saudi authorities have a contempt for human rights, and events like this will undoubtedly be regarded as an endorsement. It’s time for the Museum to take a stand,” said Andrew Smith, from the Campaign Against Arms Trade, on Thursday, hours before the NHM was to host the reception for Saudi Arabia Day, Presstv Reported.
The call for scrapping the event comes amid a global outrage about Saudi Arabia’s alleged killing of a prominent anti-government journalist in a diplomatic mission in Turkey. Jamal Khashoggi have been unaccounted for since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Many, including Turkish authorities, believe the journalist was killed inside the consulate. Saudis have denied the allegations.
Smith said the NHM’s hosting of the Saudi embassy event would be an endorsement of Riyadh’s gross human rights violations, adding that the museum “should not be hosting a regime which has been accused of killing journalists and is inflicting a humanitarian catastrophe on the people of Yemen”.
More than 15,000 people have been killed in a relentless Saudi military campaign on Yemen over the past three years. Riyadh has defied international calls for stopping the illegal operation.
Amnesty International UK’s foreign affairs expert Polly Truscott also urged the UK authorities not to send any of its officials to the event which he said “might appear to dignify human rights violations”
The NHM issued a statement defending its decision to go on with the reception, saying the event had been booked two months ago and the museum was highly dependent on such receptions as a means of external funding.