Established by Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi right before his brutal murder in Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate, the pro-democracy group will monitor autocratic Arab regimes’s repressive policies.
During his lifetime, Jamal Khashoggi strived for an Arab world free from oppressive autocrats. That dream, however, cost him his life when he was mercilessly killed by the brutal, powerful decision makers of his own country, Saudi Arabia.
But one can kill a person, not an idea.
A new political action group, Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN, was launched by Khashoggi’s friends in the US on Tuesday, with an aim to report human rights violations across the Middle East.
The DAWN will particularly focus on countries like Saudi Arabia, the alleged force behind the Khashoggi murder, the UAE, an autocratic monarchy like the Saudis, and Egypt, where the current the general-turned-President Abdel Fattah el Sisi overthrew the country’s first democratically-elected government and leader.
Across the Arab world, human rights violations are widespread from Egypt to Syria, Iraq and the Gulf, where freedom of speech and right to assembly have been perceived as political threats by respective suppressive governments.
Khashoggi, who was well aware of the suppressive nature of his own government and some other Arab regimes, had particularly wanted to go after them during his life.
“We are going to uphold Jamal’s legacy,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the DAWN’s executive director.
According to Whitson, Khashoggi formed DAWN “based on his belief that only democracy and freedom will bring lasting peace and security to the Middle East and North Africa.”
Arab popular dissatisfaction
DAWN’s operations could also help reveal a growing popular dissatisfaction over the undemocratic rules of US-backed Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where the organisation will monitor government actions and human rights violations.
“Watch this space to see exactly how we plan to make the Saudi Arabian culprits involved in his murder face the consequences for their crimes right here in the United States,” said Whitson.
In another encouraging sign of more democracy demands, some Saudis have launched a new party, the National Assembly Party, which promises to bring a full democracy “to replace the current absolute monarchy.”
“Khashoggi’s assassination shattered the myth about the benevolent monarchy and redefined the image of the country in the imagination of the international community as a rogue state,” wrote Madawi al-Rasheed, one of the founding members of the party.