UN 36 nations against Riyadh for human rights violations. Women also affected

For the first time, a joint document to the UN Human Rights Council criticizes Saudi Arabia. Among the signatories are the 28 EU countries, Canada and Australia. For the Saudi representative it is an attack of "political nature". Anti-terrorism laws used to repress freedom and rights are targeted.

Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At the UN Human Rights Council, a group of 36 nations strongly criticized Saudi Arabia for repeated cases of arbitrary detentions, abuses and violations against activists and dissidents.

The joint statement issued at the end of the meeting is the first "collective" document to condemn Riyadh since the Council's inception in 2006. It calls for the release of a dozen activists still in prison and more cooperation with the investigation team called to shed light on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia’s response was Immediate (and angry) speaking of an attack of a "political nature". Abdul Aziz Alwasil, permanent representative of the UN  said “interference in domestic affairs under the guise of defending human rights is in fact an attack on our sovereignty".

Among the 36 signatory countries are Canada, Australia and all 28 nations that make up the European Union, but not the United States. A common front that bears witness to the growing international concerns regarding violations of human rights and freedom of expression perpetrated within the Sunni monarchy.

We call upon Saudi Arabia to disclose all information available and to fully co-operate with all investigations into the killing, including the human rights inquiry by the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions" reads the joint final communiqué read by Icelandic Ambassador Harald Aspelun . "Human rights defenders and civil society groups can and should play a vital role in the process of reform which the kingdom is pursuing".

The signatory nations conclude by launching an appeal to the Saudi authorities for the release of all activists. Among these, in conjunction with the Women's Day that is celebrated today March 8, they remember nine women who fought, among others, for the right to drive and who would have suffered violence and abuse in the cell.

Many nations regard Riyadh as a key anti-Iranian ally in the Middle Eastern region. In the past, criticism of human rights violations occurred only in the context of private, unofficial meetings. Yesterday's document breaks these patterns for the first time.

The denunciation of arbitrary detentions and violations of human rights at the United Nations is just the latest in a long series of attacks on the spurious "reforms" promoted by 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the context of the Vision 2030 program.

The arrests of senior officials and business people last year, the crackdown on activists and critical voices, the war in Yemen with its civilian victims, children included, and the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi cast a dark shadow on Saudi Arabia.