Open letter from over 60 MPs, MEPs and influential people from around the world, calling on government leaders to stand up to Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses

To Heads of State, Foreign and Trade Ministers, and Members of the United Nations:

We respectfully call on you to stand with Canada and publicly condemn Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses. No sanctions or threats should ever silence us from speaking up for the humanitarian values we believe in.

When Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland called for the release of peaceful human rights activists in Saudi Arabia, the world looked the other way. What a lonely feeling it must be, to boldly champion the humanitarian values many of our countries profess to stand for, only to be met with deafening silence.

While our governments have yet to publicly take a stand, we the undersigned proudly stand with Canada on their response to Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, and 840,000 people from around the world have joined us too. Now we are calling on leaders everywhere to do the same.

Saudi Arabia still allows women to be sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The Kingdom whips bloggers who dare speak critically of their strict version of Islam, and they regularly lock up peaceful women’s rights activists. And the Kingdom continues to enforce a medieval male guardianship law which prevents women from making crucial decisions for themselves without the explicit consent of a man.

That’s in addition to the horrific abuses and alleged war crimes committed in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition’s recent attack on a school bus killed 40 children reportedly between the ages of six and eleven. The UN has already ‘blacklisted’ the Saudi coalition for killing almost 700 children, and for attacking dozens of schools and hospitals in Yemen. But that condemnation was still not enough for the coalition to stop bombing Yemeni children.

Saudi Arabia is a powerful ally, and a prodigious buyer of western arms. But our policies, alliances, and diplomacy must not be reduced to walking on eggshells when governments blatantly defy the most basic international laws on human rights.

The time has come to finally stand up to Saudi Arabia and all other governments that commit gross human rights violations. It is our collective responsibility — as stewards of our people — to speak up again and again, no matter how many diplomats are expelled as a result.

We implore you to join us, and to consider all possibilities to ensure Saudi Arabia stops these human rights abuses — either by joining Canada in issuing honest, critical public statements; halting the sale of arms to the Kingdom; or considering more robust sanctions. Our greatest failure in this moment is no action at all.

Join us in standing with Canada on the right side of history.


Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist, historian and thinker, USA
David Nicholls, Author and Writer, UK
Rony Brauman, Co-founder and former President of MSF (Doctors without borders), France
Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, UK
Raphaël Glucksmann, Essayist and thinker, France
Benoît Hamon, Founder of Génération-s, former Minister and presidential candidate, France
Anne-Cécile Mailfert, President of the Women Foundation, France
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, UK
MP Stella Creasy, Labour, UK
MP Esther Benbassa, EELV, France
MP Sébastien Nadot, En Marche, France
MP Jess Phillips, Labour, UK
MP Jennifer de Temmerman, En Marche, France
MP Lammert van Raan, Party for the Animals, The Netherlands
MP Bram van Ojik, GroenLinks, The Netherlands
MP Ivan Lewis, Labour, UK
MP Holger K. Nielsen, MP for SF, former Foreign Minister, Denmark
MP Gareth Hughes, Green Party, New Zealand
MP Caroline Lucas, Green Party, UK
MP Balthasar Glättli, President of the Green Group in the Federal Assembly, Switzerland
MP Juan López de Uralde, Unidos Podemos and co-spokesperson of EQUO, Spain
MP Eva Flyvholm, Enhedslisten (Red-Green Alliance), and defense spokesperson, Denmark
MP Pernille Skipper, Enhedslisten (Red-Green Alliance), and political spokesperson, Demark
MP Margarete Bause, Member of the federal Parliament, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Germany
MP José María Guijarro, Unidos Podemos, Secretary General of the parliamentary group, Spain
MP Christian Juhl, Enhedslisten, Denmark
MP Dr. Franziska Brantner, Member of the German federal parliament, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Germany
Regional Counsellor Julien Bayou, EELV Party, France
MEP Molly Scott Cato, Greens-European Free Alliance, UK
MP Bas Eickhout, Greens-European Free Alliance, Netherlands
MEP Sven Giegold, Greens-European Free Alliance, Germany
MEP Claude Moraes, S&D, Chair of Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, UK
MEP Bart Staes, Greens-European Free Alliance, Belgium
MEP Marietje Schaake, ALDE, Netherlands
MEP Eva Joly, Greens-European Free Alliance, France
MEP Pavel Telička, ALDE, and Vice President of Parliament, Czech Republic
MEP Julie Ward, S&D, UK
MEP Patricia Lalonde, ALDE, France
MEP Jude Kirton-Darling, S&D, UK
MEP Petr Ježek, ALDE, Czech Republic
MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, Greens-European Free Alliance, Germany
MEP Ana Miranda, Greens-European Free Alliance, Spain
MEP Ángela Vallina de la Noval, GUE/NGL, Spain
MEP Lidia Senra Rodríguez, GUE/NGL, Spain
MEP Georgi Pirinski, S&D, Bulgaria
MEP Barbara Spinelli, GUE/NGL, Italy
MEP Bodil Valero, Greens-European Free Alliance, Sweden
MEP Pascal Durand, Greens-European Free Alliance, France
MEP Ska Keller, Co-chair Greens-European Free Alliance, Germany
MEP Michèle Rivasi, Greens/European Free Alliance, France
MEP David Martin, S&D, UK
MEP Elena Valenciano, S&D, Spain
MEP Liadh Ní Riada, GUE/NGL, Ireland
MEP Matt Carthy, GUE/NGL, Ireland
MEP Martina Anderson, GUE/NGL, UK
MEP Lynn Boylan, GUE/NGL, Ireland
MEP Philippe Lamberts, Co-chair Greens-European Free Alliance, Belgium
MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis, GUE/NGL and Vice President of Parliament, Greece
MEP Guillaume Balas, S&D, France
MEP Jo Leinen, S&D, Germany
MEP Guy Verhofstadt, Chair of ALDE, and former Prime Minister of Belgium
MEP Catherine Bearder, ALDE, UK