Silence still surrounds the murder of my fiance, Jamal Khashoggi. Who will speak up?

A year on, no action has been taken about the killing. The Trump administration has much to answer for

  • Exactly one year ago, I stood outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, waiting for my fiance, Jamal Khashoggi, to come out with the marriage documents we needed to begin our life together. I was optimistic, even excited. Yet I never saw Jamal again.
  • I did not expect to have my life transformed. I did not expect to have to alert the authorities to Jamal’s disappearance, or to find myself at the centre of a story that would shake the world. I did not expect, on a day that seemed unremarkable, to have my dreams shattered.
  • By necessity I was put on a path, compelled to begin a campaign for justice for the man who was not only stolen from me but also taken away from those who read his work, and who admired him for his courage and his unrelenting commitment to the truth.
  • Over the past year, I’ve travelled to Brussels, London and Washington. I have visited the European parliament, the US Congress and the Senate. My aim has been nothing more than to achieve justice for Jamal; and yet, despite the cold, cruel and clearly illegal nature of his murder, that justice has not been forthcoming.
  • Instead, I have noticed two things. First, among some, an outpouring of international sympathy, declarations of regret and sorrow at the killing of my fiance. But from others silence, broken only by the weakest of criticisms of the Saudi government – when to speak out would matter most.
  • Here the Trump administration – which has the most power to effect change – has much to answer for. It has said nothing. Nothing close to the denunciation and promise of scrutiny that it is morally right to make.
  • My journey over the past 12 months has told me one thing: the actions of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, have no political consequences, in his home country or abroad. That will not and cannot change until key allies of the Saudi government, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, join me in calling for justice.
  • There is no body, no grave. I have no place where I can mourn. And as remarkable as the illegality and ruthlessness of my fiance’s murder was the manner in which his killers committed it.
  • This was an assault on a man who was not the enemy of the Saudi government but a reformer, with only the best interests of his people in mind. He was a former man of the palace, a man who exemplified the dedication to openness and fidelity that his profession demanded.
  • On the anniversary of Jamal’s murder, I will stand outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. This is the same place I was one year ago. This time, I will not be waiting for my fiance to emerge with the papers that would have allowed us to be together. I will be calling for justice, for accountability, and for the long-overdue investigation into not only his murder but also its motivations and the politicians who demanded it.
  • I will stand there with Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur and a woman brave enough to point the finger. It was she who found that those who demanded my fiance’s death work at the highest levels of the Saudi government, and we should question and criticise those other governments who choose to ignore her conclusion.
  • Indeed, we should be wary of any government that ignores hard facts and the conclusions of our global institutions, as well as those who run costly PR campaigns to hide their wrongdoing.
  • There is now talk of a new Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia, and boxers Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz will have their fight in the kingdom. Be under no illusion, this “sportswashing” is nothing but a sleight of hand – designed to divert and distract.
  • One year on, I am still asking the same questions. I still have the same concerns. As Jamal’s former employer, the Washington Post, puts it: “Democracy dies in darkness.” And if we, as an international community bound by a shared commitment to the most basic human values, choose to neglect or ignore or indeed deny this injustice, then further injustices will surely follow.
  • If we choose darkness over light, lies over truth, political expedience over moral strength, then that darkness will deepen and swell, and come to cloud the crimes not only of the Saudi regime, but of tyrants and criminals the world over.

 Hatice Cengiz is a PhD student. She was the fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi