The US-based non-profit organization DAWN aims to document and address violations in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.
An organization for the protection of human rights, founded by the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Hashoghi, months before his controversial murder in 2018 at the hands of a Saudi hit team in Turkey, has now been opened in the United States.
The official launch of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) on Tuesday, in a virtual event in Washington, DC, took place before the second anniversary of the death of a Washington Post employee.
Hashoghi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 201
The 59-year-old was drugged and killed at the consulate. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.
“In the summer of 2018, Jamal co-founded DAWN with some of his friends, building on his belief that only democracy and freedom will bring lasting peace and security to the Middle East and North Africa,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, CEO. of DAWN. virtual press conference on Tuesday.
After his death, the organization remained largely dormant.
“We will support Jamal’s legacy,” Whitson added.
The US-based organization will focus primarily on documenting and tackling the violence and human rights abuses of Washington-backed governments and US allies: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. It aims to expand its work in the future to cover other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, U.S. Sen. Chris Kunz, a Democrat and member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the nonprofit “would help hold the U.S. government accountable … particularly to the Trump administration for the way in which human rights are the back step and first the economy and military interests. “
Repression against dissent
The assassination of Khashoggi, a US resident, provoked a global reaction against Saudi Arabia and caused lasting damage to MBS’s image on the international stage.
Hashoghi, 59, wrote critically of the Saudi government.
He has lived in exile in the United States for about a year, leaving Saudi Arabia just as MBS began cracking down on Saudi human rights activists, writers and critics of the devastating war in the Yemeni kingdom.
Questions remain about MBS’s role in ordering the assassination, with several Western intelligence agencies suggesting that he knew about the operation in advance.
The heir to the throne denied ordering the assassination, but said he ultimately bore “full responsibility” as the de facto ruler of the kingdom.
Earlier this month, a Saudi court overturned the death sentences handed down to five defendants following a closed-door trial in Saudi Arabia last year, instead sentencing them to 20 years in prison.
In a separate case in July, an Istanbul court began prosecuting 20 other Saudis in absentia for the murder, including two former MBS aides.
On Monday, Turkish prosecutors filed charges against six new Saudis suspected of involvement in the 2018 murder.
The prosecutor’s office in Istanbul wants life imprisonment for two of the suspects and up to five years in prison for the other four, the official Anadolu Agency reported.