Saudi Arabia to relocate students from Canada

07 August, 2018, 00:21 | Author: Carlos George
  • Canada Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador and announced a freeze on new trade and investment in response to pressure from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to release detained civil and human rights activists.

In a statement released through the Saudi Press Agency, Riyadh bluntly condemned the criticism from Ms. Freeland and the Department of Global Affairs, calling it "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic worldwide norms and all worldwide protocols" and a "major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom's laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom's sovereignty".

At the same time, it sends a strong message to European and Middle Eastern countries that they shouldn't "mess" with Saudi Arabia, said Thomas Juneau, a professor at the University of Ottawa.

"Let me be very clear".

"For Saudi Arabia to punish Canada, it's fairly easy because we're not an important country for them, either are they for us", he said, noting that it sends a message to others that it will not accept criticism.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

The kingdom gave the envoy Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country, in an abrupt rupture of relations over what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

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It also said, "Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs".

The shock Saudi move, announced by the foreign ministry on Twitter, came in response to Ottawa's vigorous demands that jailed human rights activists be released.

More than 8,000 students from Saudi Arabia are enrolled in programs in Canada, according to figures released by the official Saudi Press Agency in 2017.

Bilateral trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia surpassed $4 billion last year, in part due to a controversial 2014 arms deal worth $15 billion over several years.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. "Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights", Freeland told a conference in Vancouver.

Freeland was expected to address the issue later Monday.

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