Amnesty International has hit out at the “unmistakable irony” of Saudi Arabia being announced as the host venue for back-to-back Ladies European Tour events in November.
It was announced on Monday that the country will stage two women’s events, worth a combined $1.5million, in the space of just seven days before the end of the year.
The news was hailed as a “landmark moment for women’s sport in the Kingdom”. However, the world’s leading human rights organisation disagrees.
Speaking to The Guardian, Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, said: “With leading Saudi women’s rights activists currently languishing behind bars, there’s an unmistakable irony to the spectacle of Saudi Arabia throwing open its heavily-watered greens to the world’s leading women golfers like this.
“Under the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a major sportswashing drive – attempting to use the glamour and prestige of big-money sporting events as a PR tool to distract from its abysmal human rights record.”
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This Friday marks the second anniversary of the disappearance of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
The Washington Post journalist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents related to his planned marriage. However, he was never seen leaving the building and the CIA later concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had ordered his assassination.
On that point, Allen added: “It’s clear the Saudi authorities would prefer that golf handicaps are discussed this week, not their whitewash over Khashoggi’s killing.
“Every golfer considering whether to compete in Saudi Arabia ought to take a proper look at the human rights situation in the country and be prepared to speak out.”