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Khashoggi's fiancee calls on world leaders to boycott G20 summit

Hatice Cengiz says Jamal Khashoggi's murder alerted international community to 'ill-treatment of women and prisoners of conscience'
Cengiz said that the awareness spread by journalists and reporters about Khashoggi's murder has helped shed light Riyadh's other abuses
Cengiz said the awareness spread by journalists and reporters about Khashoggi's murder has helped shed light on Riyadh's other abuses (AFP/File photo)

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has urged world leaders to boycott the G20 summit which will be hosted by Saudi Arabia later this month.

Speaking at this year's Logan Symposium, a biennial journalist-led event on surveillance and censorship, Cengiz said the awareness spread by journalists about Khashoggi's murder helped shed light on other abuses conducted by the kingdom, including the dire treatment of women activists and prisoners of conscience.

"The reason why Jamal's case is still significant is that you as journalists and I, as the witness of this incident, have not given up on following this case," Cengiz told the symposium in a pre-recorded message.

A royal family insider turned critic, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul nearly two years ago, in a case that significantly tarnished the reputation of the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The remains of Khashoggi, a former columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, have never been found.

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"The awareness we generated upon Jamal's murder increased pressure on Saudi Arabia in relation to injustices such as ill-treatment of women and prisoners of thought," Cengiz said.

"I believe that this continued public pressure has a strong impact on realising justice for Jamal and others to be set free and punishment of the ones responsible for it."

Still, Cengiz noted that the decision to allow the kingdom to host the G20 summit showed the international community was allowing the kingdom to whitewash its abuses and present itself as a reforming power.

"The fact that the G20 summit is hosted by Saudi Arabia is giving a message that people continue their lives as if nothing has happened," she added.

The G20 summit, an annual meeting of the world's 20 largest economies, had been planned to showcase the ambitious modernisation drive of MBS. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the summit to go virtual, dashing Riyadh's hopes of showing off its latest modernisation projects.

In the run-up to the G20 summit, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz criticised MBS over Khashoggi's murder and the imprisonment of women's rights activists.

During his address to the Think 20 (T20) summit last month, Stiglitz condemned the crown prince for allowing the individuals who killed Khashoggi to escape any criminal convictions. 

The economist then held a moment of silence "in memory of Khashoggi and in honour of all those women being held in prison" by the Saudi authorities. The speech was immediately censored by Saudi Arabia.