The murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, remains a mystery. While reports from the CIA suggest that Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing, and the question of Saudi Arabia abusing human rights of those who speak against it has been raised, U.S. has yet to make a firm stance on the whole situation. Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the State Department said that “Recent reports indicating that the U.S. Government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate.”
A funeral was held for Khashoggi on Friday morning at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, but his body has still not been found. A month on, Khashoggi’s family has spoken out for the first time, pleading with Saudi authorities to return Khashoggi’s body to be buried at the family grave. However, there is still no solid evidence on how the journalist was murdered, although a Saudi spokesperson said that Khashoggi was killed by a lethal injection that was administrated after a failed extradition attempt, adding that Prince Mohammed didn’t know about the operation. Investigators believe that the journalist’s body was cut up and dissolved in acid. Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, has called for an international investigation into the case, saying, “We will do whatever it takes to bring the murder to light.”
The continuing mystery around Khashoggi’s death raises the question of abuse of human rights in Saudi Arabia. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia uses threats against those who criticize the regime, even if they no longer live in the country. However, Khashoggi’s death signifies that Saudi Arabia can not only threaten but kill those who speak out against the country’s actions and policies. Indeed, silencing opponents has become more common since the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, assumed power in 2017. Temple Graden Chambers reports that more than 60 so-called opponents of the Saudi regime have been arrested by Saudi authorities since 2017.
It is ironic that Saudi Arabia is praised for being progressive for lifting its ban on female drivers, while its human rights activists are being imprisoned. It seems that a basic human right for men and women to be equal is seemingly acknowledged by Saudi Arabia; another basic human right of free speech is being actively destroyed by it.
The U.S. continues to deny claims that the Crown Prince ordered the murder in order to maintain a working relationship with Saudi Arabia; however, that approach challenges America’s moral priorities. Should the U.S. continue to work with a country with continuous human rights abuses to get what it needs? The lack of answers for Khashoggi’s murder should be a stepping stone for world leaders, they should carefully examine Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Although there should be praise for allowing women to drive, there is much more to be done, and Khashoggi’s murder should be an example of why there mustn’t be oppression of freedom of speech.