SHAFAQNA– Leading human rights group, Amnesty International, has condemned Tour de France Cycling Organizer for holding a week-long race in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, citing the KSA’s dismal human rights record.
Amnesty in its statement described Saudi Tour as “professional cycling becoming associated with repression”. Amnesty’s director of International Service for Human Rights Phil Lynch has said that historically, cycling has been a sport associated with values of freedom of movement and expression, but regrettably, it is becoming associated with values of authoritarianism and repression.
Amnesty says the kingdom severely restricts rights to freedom of expression and authorities target human rights campaigners, while women still face discrimination in law and practice and torture and detention of female and male activists are common and widespread.
According to Lynch, Saudi Arabia wants to use the sport event to distract attentions from the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally killed and dismembered in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Lynch adds the detention of women’s rights defenders namely Loujain al-Hathloul takes Saudi Arabia’s liability under question. She is in jail since March 2018.
ASO, the company that stages sporting events including the Tour de France says the 2.1 category race will be held from February 4-8, 2020 in the Saudi capital Riyadh and its surrounding desert hills. World-class riders from around the world are expected to take part in the race.
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