After Cancelling Direct Flights, Saudi Arabia Halts Medical Treatment Of Saudi Citizens In Canada

| August 8 , 2018 , 15:48 IST

The government of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday ordered the transfer of all Saudi citizens undergoing treatment in Canadian hospitals to medical facilities outside Canada. The move comes as Saudi Arabia continues its stringent actions against Canada after a tweet from Canada condemning Saudi's action against human rights activists sparked a diplomatic row.

Saudi Arabia has also recalled its Ambassador to Canada, expelled the Canadian Ambassador in Riyadh, suspended all direct flights to Toronto on their state airline and froze all new trade and investment of Canada.

The actions of the Saudi government has affected students as well, as the government and cancelled scholarships of 16,000 Saudi students studying in Canada, ordering them to leave Canada and find academic programmes elsewhere.

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The diplomatic row was sparked after Canada's Foreign Office on August 3 made a tweet expressing concern over the detainment of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists," the Canadian Foreign Office tweeted.  

The tweet came in response to reports from Amnesty International that leading women’s rights activist Samar Badawi, sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi had been detained by the Saudi police.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Badawi’s arrest said, “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.”

The Saudi government condemned the statements from Canada as a 'blatant interference' in the domestic affairs of Saudi Arabia.

"The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which as not based in any accurate or true information," the statement said, in reference to the comments made by Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland.

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"The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed the detainees’ rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial," Saudi's statement said.

“The Canadian statement is a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols. It is a major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty," it added.

“The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty. It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase ‘immediate release’ in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states,” the statement said.

“Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgement of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,” the Saudi government said.