Canada Defiant After Saudi Arabia Freezes New Trade Over Human Rights Call

Canada Defiant After Saudi Arabia Freezes New Trade Over Human Rights Call

The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada´s envoy from returning and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of jailed rights activists. "We're always going to speak up for woman's rights and that's not going to change", she said, adding that it wasn't the first time Canada has spoken out about human rights in Saudi Arabia", she said.

Since Monday, the Middle Eastern country began imposing a flurry of diplomatic sanctions starting with the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador, Dennis Horak, who was deemed "persona non grata" on Twitter by Saudi officials, giving him 24 hours to leave the Gulf country.

The moves came in retaliation to a Canadian government tweet that said it was "gravely concerned" about the arrests of civil society and women's activists in the Saudi kingdom.

"The students have been asked by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue their studies if they are now registered in the spring and summer session, but to deregister or cancel their registration for the fall of 2018 and to leave Canada within four weeks of the departure of the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh", said Livia Castellanos, the university's associate vice-president (international).

Ms Badawi was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

While department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said USA officials have raised human rights concerns with the Saudis in the past, she stressed that Riyadh and Ottawa "need to diplomatically resolve this together".

Amnesty International noted Ms Badawi has been repeatedly targeted and interrogated by Saudi security forces for her human rights activist.

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A number of rights campaigners, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, have been arrested in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's main state wheat-buying agency told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin grains in global tenders, European traders said. Much of that was tanks, armored personnel carriers and motor vehicles.

Morneau's comments reiterated the position expressed Monday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, but did not directly address the larger question of what sort of lasting economic impact the dispute could have, including on Canada's $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

"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. It also suspended new trade dealings with Canada. "They don't know exactly what's going to happen to them", Castellanos said. Canada's foreign ministry said it was seeking clarity from the Saudi Arabian government.

Saudi Arabia's state media threatened Toronto in this grim tweet.

Human rights groups and Canadian and other Western diplomats have made repeated calls for the release of Raif Badawi, whose wife received Canadian citizenship in July.

"There are geopolitics at play, particularly the strategic and theocratic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran".

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