Khashoggi fiancee Hatice Cengiz, Matthew Hedges brief European Parliament on Saudi, Emirati abuses

Khashoggi fiancee Hatice Cengiz, Matthew Hedges brief European Parliament on Saudi, Emirati abuses
Matthew Hedges and Hatice Cengiz appeared before the European Parliament on Tuesday to discuss human rights issues in the Gulf. Cengiz urged the EU to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia.
3 min read
19 February, 2019
Cengiz and Hedges called for continued EU pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE [AFP]

Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Matthew Hedges, the UK academic jailed by the UAE last year, spoke in front of the European Parliament (EP) on Tuesday, calling on the EU to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their human rights violations.

"If no proper response is given to the murder of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, if all this remains without clarity, this will be a terrible stain on the fight for human rights," Cengiz told the EP.

"One might think that this is a very exceptional event, but let us not forget that… this may not be as exceptional as one thinks," she added, urging the EP and EU members states to continue to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia.

Cengiz appeared mid-day on Tuesday in front of the European Parliament Subcommittee for Human Rights in a meeting organised with the EP's delegation for relations with the Arabian peninsula to discuss attacks on human rights defenders in the Gulf.

Matthew Hedges, a UK academic who was detained for more than six months and held in solitary confinement by the UAE and accused of being a spy, also appeared in front of the committee to discuss his detention.

"I had to endure extreme bouts of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, all at the hands of the UAE security services," Hedges told the EP.

He described his detention, of which he said the worst ordeal was being fed "an ever stronger cocktail of medication" to keep him "calm and docile" in the face of threats of "gruesome acts of torture".

"All the while my own government and those of many EU member states continued their very friendly and blossoming relationship with the UAE. There was no accountability [and] there still has not been," Hedges said, urging the EU to provide support for scholars visiting the Gulf states and other "despotic" regimes.

Cengiz, a Turkish academic, was engaged to Jamal Khashoggi and accompanied him to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day he was brutally killed in October 2018. In front of the committee, she described the day which "changed [her] life completely".

While she praised the responses of the EU, UN and Turkey to the Khashoggi killing, Cengiz criticised the US for prioritising "arms sales" over human rights.

"He felt that we all live together in a dark forest, a very dark forest indeed, if we don’t defend the dignity of human beings," she said, recalling her fiance.

The European Commission added Saudi Arabia to its blacklist of countries which do little to impede the financing of terrorism and organised crime this month.

The proposal still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament, which condemned the killing of Jamal Khashoggi last year.