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Tory MP mocks Saudi human rights allegations

LEFT MP Katy Clark sparked an odious performance from Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski today when she attacked “appalling” human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Clark launched a Westminster debate to demand that the British government must protest against jailings of human rights activists and the oppression of women and migrant workers.

But a sneering Mr Kawczynski chided her for “making all these allegations about human rights abuses.”

He demanded: “I ask her, has she ever visited Saudi Arabia?”

Mr Kawczynski first scolded her for failing to visit and then boasted that he had visited the country many times as chair of the all-party group for Saudi Arabia — paid for by the Saudi government.

He declared that “the king is desperately trying to modernise society and make changes, but he has to move at the pace which the conservative elements will allow him.”

He fumed that the BBC was always putting forward the negative aspects of Saudi Arabia.

“Which country does not have its share of social ills?” he asked. If the Saudi media looked at Britain, it would see some of the problems of society here.

Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson admitted to Ms Clark that Saudi Arabia was “a country of concern” on human rights.

He denied that Britain’s close relationship was “simply about selling military hardware” and insisted that it was sometimes best to raise human rights cases “privately.”

Launching the Westminster Hall debate, Ms Clark protested that many people had been sent to trial simply for taking part in demonstrations.

Writer Zakariya al-Safwan was sentenced to 10 years in jail for an article entitled In Defence of Peaceful Protest, while Raif Badawi received 1,000 lashes and 10 years’ imprisonment for establishing a liberal website.

Ms Clark raised the case of princesses Sahar and Jawaher, daughters of King Abdullah, who have been held under house arrest for more than ten years and now face starvation and lack of water.

She accused Prime Minister David Cameron of inaction and double-standards toward abuses in Saudi Arabia.

Left MP Jeremy Corbyn said Britain’s failure to challenge human rights abuses arose from the fact that Saudi Arabia was the country’s biggest purchaser of armaments.

But Mr Kawczynski retorted: “Are we to leave this very important country defenceless?”

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