Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

Children attending an open-air Arabic school in February at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they were learning to read the Qur’an. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

  • Al-Mouallimi: International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity
  • In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, said Saudi Arabia's top diplomat at the UN

JEDDAH: Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable and punished for their crimes, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity, he added. “We witnessed a new massacre committed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, which killed dozens of Palestinian martyrs and wounded thousands,” he said. 

“And for seven consecutive years, the world has witnessed bloodletting in Syria, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians using various means,” including “genocide,” he added. 

“In Myanmar, the world is watching as hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya are driven out of their homes that are burnt, their women raped and children displaced.”

In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, Al-Mouallimi said. 

He cited the example of four-year-old Jamila, who had been used as a human shield. She was saved by Saudi-led coalition forces and handed over to her family.

Saudi Arabia supports the formation of a committee of inquiry into Israel’s crimes in Gaza, and a mechanism to collect documents and evidence to hold perpetrators of war crimes in Syria accountable, Al-Mouallimi said.

He stressed the need to facilitate the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in a safe, dignified and voluntary way, and to hold accountable those who caused them harm.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”