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OTTAWA/RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – For years, Canadian pressure on human rights in Saudi Arabia had elicited no more than a standard rejection. But all that changed last week, when a Canadian complaint was translated into Arabic and set off a diplomatic row.
When Riyadh responded to a call from Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to release civil society activists with an abrupt severing of diplomatic and trade ties, Canadian officials were left scrambling to understand what had happened.
The article goes on to state the following:
What Ottawa did not anticipate was that in the eyes of the Saudis they had crossed a red line.
On Aug. 2, Freeland tweeted here in English and French, calling for the release of two jailed Saudi human rights activists. The following day, Canada’s foreign affairs department sent another tweet here, urging Saudi Arabia to “immediately release” those and other activists.
That was translated here into Arabic by its embassy in Riyadh and sent out on Aug. 5 to its approximately 12,000 followers.
The report continues:
“The Saudi retaliation took some time to allow for political talks in closed doors,” Salman al-Ansari, founder of the Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, said.
“They thought the Canadians would take steps to back off, but all of a sudden they tweeted it in Arabic. This was a very provocative action by the Canadians to try to embarrass the Saudis in front of their people. The Saudis did not take this lightly at all.”
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
تشعر كندا بقلق بالغ إزاء الاعتقالات الإضافية لنشطاء المجتمع المدني ونشطاء حقوق المرأة في #السعودية ، بما في ذلك #سمر_بدوي . نحث السلطات السعودية على الإفراج عنهم فوراً وعن جميع النشطاء السلميين الآخرين في مجال #حقوق_الانسان.
— Canada in KSA (@CanEmbSA) August 5, 2018
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