Top of the Month: Amnesty's Khashoggi campaign piles pressure on Saudi regime

Amnesty International's campaign to highlight the issue of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia reached its apogee in October following the murder of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi (pictured), a prominent critic of the regime.

Amnesty piled the pressure onto the Saudi regime following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (© MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images)
Amnesty piled the pressure onto the Saudi regime following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (© MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images)
He died following a visit to the Saudi consulate in Turkish metropolis Istanbul on 2 October. The Saudi government denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, later changing its story to say he died in a fight in the consulate, then admitted he was murdered – during a "rogue operation".

Meanwhile, the Turkish media provided a gruesome alternative narrative in trying to uncover what happened to Khashoggi.

After a year in which crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted western public opinion, the Saudi regime was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons on the eve of its investment conference, dubbed ‘Davos in the desert’.

Seizing the moment, Amnesty piled pressure on the regime by helping to generate huge media interest in the murder, and a toxic environment for business and political leaders planning to attend the conference.

Press releases and tweets about Khashoggi and the conference emanated from the organisation daily, and while the event went ahead, business leaders were forced to send their deputies as delegates and some senior politicians shunned it completely.

All the Saudi government’s efforts to reposition itself could yet be undone.

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