Leeds UCU notes with alarm the conviction and jailing of Leeds University PhD student Salma al-Shehab. We are appalled that she has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for peacefully expressing her views on Twitter, including advocating for women’s rights and supporting human rights defenders also unjustly persecuted and jailed by Saudi Arabia. Salma al-Shehab’s case is sadly not an isolated example, but part of a pattern of massive repression and criminalisation of dissent by the Saudi government. Long-term friendly diplomatic relations and the provision of arms and military technology to the Saudi government by Western governments including Britain have not done anything to encourage the current regime to stop its abuse of human rights. Rather it has sent a message that it can act with impunity. We urge all members of the University community in Leeds and the wider trade union and student movements to join with us in sending a message to the Saudi government that we will not be silent in the face of this brutality.
We call on the University of Leeds Vice Chancellor to:
a. issue a public statement unequivocally condemning Salma al-Shehab’s conviction and jailing and calling for her immediate release and the dropping of all charges against her.
b. meet with the Saudi Ambassador as soon as possible to directly convey this message of condemnation to the Saudi authorities.
c. write to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and PM Boris Johnson urging the British government to likewise condemn Salma’s conviction and demand her release and the dropping of all charges against her.
We call on the University of Leeds management to review and report to UCU on its institutional relationships with the reactionary authoritarian regime in Saudi Arabia.
Chloe Wallace, on behalf of the branch committee.
This page was last updated on 18 August 2022