A group founded by the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is set to launch in Washington on Tuesday to carry on his legacy of raising awareness of human rights violations committed by Washington’s allies in the region.
According to a press statement by the group, Democracy for Arab World Now (DAWN) is a non-profit organisation originally established by Khashoggi several months before his murder by Saudi officials in his country’s embassy in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.
Friends and former colleagues of the journalist, fellow Saudi scholars and US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Senator Chris Coons will announce the reconstituted organisation at a press conference in Washington, DC later on Tuesday.
DAWN’s FP recommendations are guided by the principle, Do No Harm. The 1st step is for the U.S. to cease its support of autocratic conduct, including torture, attacks against civilians, repression of freedom of expression & squashing of political dissent.https://t.co/LS9Mnrt8lk
— DAWN MENA (@DAWNmenaorg) September 29, 2020
A royal family insider turned critic – Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul nearly two years ago, in a case that significantly tarnished the reputation of the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a former columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have never been found.
Riyadh has described the murder as a “rogue” operation, but both the CIA and Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, have linked bin Salman to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.
Influencing US policy in the Arab world
Khashoggi set up DAWN to influence US policy in the Arab world “by linking the local knowledge and political commitment of Arab democracy exiles, with the research and advocacy of US civil society groups and think tanks, combining regional credibility, political authenticity, and advocacy expertise,” the group said in its founding statement.
“Friends, colleagues, and supporters are now carrying on his legacy – establishing DAWN with the mission of advancing democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in member nations of the Arab League through an integrated program of monitoring and research, advocacy and publicity, publications, and broad-based coalition-building.”
Through its research and advocacy efforts, the group said it hopes to counter Saudi “attempts to whitewash the regime’s record of repression and abuse”.
It will also seek to expose human rights violations in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, two other major US allies.
Research into the justice system of the three Arab countries will both explain the inner workings of the apparatus, as well as naming officials who enable human rights abuses by their governments, including senior judges and prosecutors, it said.
The launch comes one day after Turkey announced new charges against six Saudi nationals as suspects relating to the killing of Khashoggi.
Twenty Saudi nationals are already on trial in an Istanbul court for the killing of Khashoggi.
Earlier this month, a Saudi court jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for the murder, four months after Khashoggi’s family forgave his killers and enabled earlier death sentences to be set aside.