Yan Jiyu’s column: She is the fiancée of a dissident journalist in Saudi Arabia, and she embarked on the journey of human rights struggle for him

Original link: https://sehseh.substack.com/p/79e

Hatice Cengiz (AP)

🔗Full text easy to read sharing version: She is the fiancee of a dissident journalist in Saudi Arabia, and she embarked on the journey of human rights struggle for him

Text / Yan Jiyu

In the famous César Award-winning film The Long Wait for the Fiancée (2005), the heroine Mathilde does not believe that her fiancé has died in battle, but she is not “waiting”. She went to poverty and fell to Huangquan, searching for traces of her fiancé who was still alive, asking for an explanation from those in power, and always refused to give up hope and belief.

The original title of the film (Un long dimanche de fiançailles), literally translated, refers to the “long ‘engagement’ (fiançailles),” an engagement that seemed to never wait for marriage.

In today’s international political arena, there is also such a “fiancee” who has recently become the focus again. Hatice Cengiz is both a fiancée and a widow, and her fiancé, Jamal Khashoggi, a heavyweight dissident journalist and columnist in Saudi Arabia, has since lived in exile in the United States.

On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi was kidnapped and killed by as many as 15 Saudi agents at the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey.

Khashoggi’s tragic death shocked the international community. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) confirmed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who spared no effort to criticize Khashoggi during his lifetime, was the mastermind behind it. Dictators can be described as the natural enemy of journalists. However, Saudi Arabia is not only a major oil exporter, but also a key ally of the United States in the Arab world, and the world is watching how Washington responds.

Cengiz, who lost his beloved, stepped on the international stage to speak for his deceased husband. Although he was alone, he could not be ignored.

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Encounters in Istanbul

Cengiz, who just turned 40 on July 18 this year, was born in Bursa, a city in northwestern Turkey, to a conservative Islamic family. He moved to Istanbul with his family as a child.

Thanks to her father’s successful kitchenware business, she received a good education. Cengiz once studied in Egypt, Oman, Jordan and the United Kingdom, focusing on the fields of anthropology and Arab studies, and later entered İstanbul Üniversitesi. )”. Before meeting Khashoggi, she was married to Turkish actor Deniz Oral, with whom she had a son, but it ended in divorce.

In May 2018, she met Khashoggi at an academic seminar in Istanbul.

Recalling the scene at the time, she said: “At that time, I was writing an article for a Turkish political magazine. During a coffee break, I walked up to him, introduced myself, and expressed my desire to visit him. During the second break, he came over. , told me to agree to the interview. We talked for half an hour, and I recorded it on my mobile phone. The recording file is still in my mobile phone. Later, he told me that he appreciated my attitude and that I can speak Arabic is a plus, but He didn’t pay much attention to my appearance.”

After the seminar, the two went back and forth via email to discuss current affairs, political issues, and the Arab world.

Khashoggi’s ancestors also came from Turkey. After a Hajj, his ancestors settled in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the family name means “spoon maker”. Cengiz said he fits well with Khashoggi’s views, supporting democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and the press, and believes that Islam is politically compatible with democratic principles.

It was a matter of course, and the two soon talked about marriage. Cengiz’s father originally objected, but the two held a traditional Islamic wedding on September 18, 2018, but they were still legally “engaged”.

“Let no one see the full picture of his life”

Why did Khashoggi’s “father-in-law” object to the marriage in the first place?

There are two reasons, both of which have nothing to do with politics. On the one hand, Khashoggi is nearly 22 years older than Cengiz (Cengiz’s ex-husband is also nearly 18 years older than her). On the other hand, polygamy among Arab men is common, and Cengiz’s father suspects Khashoggi has another family. In this regard, Khashoggi said that he was married, but has been divorced.

Khashoggi is not telling the truth.

On October 2, 2018, Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed on the order of Crown Prince Mohammed (AP)

On June 2, 2018, exactly 4 months before he was killed, he got married at a mosque in Virginia, the United States, but the bride was not Cengiz, but an Egyptian flight attendant Aitel ( Hanan El-Atr). Cengiz and Eitel didn’t know each other’s existence, they thought they were the only one of Khashoggi.

In other words, at the end of his life, Khashoggi lived a “double life”, running a marriage in Turkey and the United States. No one knew what he was going to do, and maybe he didn’t know either.

Mohammed Soltan, a close friend of Khashoggi and an Egyptian human rights activist, described: “Kashoghi separates the area and tells different people specific things, what they need to know, and he doesn’t let anyone else know. Seeing the whole picture of his life, the whole picture is in his hands.”

Khashoggi is a martyr for freedom of speech and press, but like most ordinary people, martyrs are often imperfect.

Khashoggi must obtain a divorce certificate issued by the Saudi government. So, on October 2, he came to the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul and stepped into the death trap carefully laid out for him by the motherland.

“I seem to live between life and death, between heaven and earth, between heaven and hell”

Back on the morning of October 2, 2018, at the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul, Khashoggi went in to apply for a divorce certificate, and Cengiz was waiting outside the consulate. The two planned to buy furniture for their new home in the afternoon and have dinner with Cengiz’s family in the evening.

However, the wait was ten hours.

Cengiz didn’t see his fiancé come out, and even asking the staff of the museum was to no avail. Early the next morning, she persevered to find someone again, but to no avail. She knew the situation was dangerous and immediately reported the incident to the Turkish police. While waiting for the truth to come out, Cengiz wrote on Twitter: “I seem to be living between life and death, between heaven and earth, between heaven and hell… I wake up from my sleep with hope, after sunset. Losing all hope…I die a thousand times a day…!”

Saudi agents are very professional in killing and dissecting corpses, but lying to cover up their ugliness is very lame. Their political murder was quickly and completely exposed, and international public opinion even pointed the finger at the crown prince MBS, who was far away in Saudi Arabia.

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Saudi dissident journalist Khashoggi, gives an exclusive interview to The Associated Press in July 2022 (AP)

Cengiz’s “fiancée’s wait” was actually not long, it only lasted a few days, and then the tragic result was awaited. But after that, she bravely embarked on a long road: she kept speaking out, petitioning, interviewing, writing a book and filming a documentary, making sure to let the “Reaper of Souls” Crown Prince MBS, the Saudi royal family and the Saudi government There is no escape between heaven and earth, and it has been condemned and punished by the international community. Don’t think that sending a few scapegoats (agents) to court can block the mouths of the world.

Of course, she also hopes that Khashoggi’s death will inject new vitality into the democratic movement in Saudi Arabia and even the entire Middle East.

Fiancee’s long struggle

Cengiz’s “Fiancée’s Long Struggle” is difficult and dangerous. You must know that MBS is not relentless in suppressing domestic dissidents, and it also “offends me, even if it is far away, will be punished.” Even if it is temporarily difficult to kill the killer, they will resort to various tactics such as follow-up, harassment (physical or online), slander, and even attempt to kidnap.

The key is still in the US.

When Khashoggi was killed, then-President Trump did not take democracy, human rights and other universal values ​​seriously. He sees the media that criticize him as “enemy of the people”, and Khashoggi is from the Washington Post, which he hates most; he longs for authoritarian countries such as China, Russia, North Korea, Egypt, etc., and his family He has a close relationship with the Saudi royal family, so there is absolutely no need to expect how serious his reaction to the Khashoggi incident and the cunning MBS will be. And he didn’t let his critics mislead.

Biden seems to be worth the wait. One of his biggest selling points when running for president in 2020 is “I’m not Trump.” As early as in the Democratic primary, he declared that he would seriously face the Khashoggi incident and the Saudi state’s strong intervention and humanitarian disaster. Civil War. He predicted that after taking office, he would end arms sales to Saudi Arabia, label it a “pariah state” that would not be tolerated by the international community, and would never meet with MBS alone.

In terms of reality, the United States is already a net exporter of oil, and the focus of its diplomatic strategy has shifted from the war on terror in the Middle East and Central Asia to the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, it is easier to deal with it hard.

But the world is ever-changing, and man is not as good as God.

On July 15, 2022, US President Joe Biden meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed (AP)

On July 15, 2022, 3 years, 9 months and 13 days after Khashoggi was killed, Biden personally flew to Saudi Arabia, met with Crown Prince MBS, gave him a fist bump as a gift, and secretly talked for 3 hours, The brutal human rights abuser delivered a world-renowned diplomatic victory.

“Dear President Biden, please don’t break your promises”

Diplomatic veteran Biden has his own difficulties.

The war of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has impacted the global energy market. Oil prices once soared above US$120 per barrel, and natural gas supplies were increasingly tight. Gas stations in the United States were shocked to see a sky-high price of US$5 (NT$40 per liter) per gallon. The signboard of the “oil power” in the Middle East Polish again. Although Saudi Arabia’s own production capacity is nearing its upper limit, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which it dominates, is absolutely capable of increasing production to stabilize oil prices and relieve inflationary pressures in the United States and many other countries.

On other diplomatic issues, Washington is also looking to Riyadh (the Saudi capital).

The nuclear (nuclear weapons) agreement negotiations between the United States and Iran are about to break down, and the Middle East must be consolidated to counter Iran’s power, and Saudi Arabia is its core. Israel, the most important Central ASEAN member of the United States, has been looking forward to normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia. China has also been actively expanding its influence in the Middle East recently, and Washington is alarmed that it cannot easily give up its territory.

Before his trip, Biden had been trying to downplay the “petroleum smell” of the trip. He also wrote a letter to Khashoggi’s old club “The Washington Post” with the honor of the president, emphasizing that he had not abandoned his principles and commitments, but that as the president of the United States, he must Put “national interests first”.

After his meeting with MBS, he claimed that he had brought the Khashoggi case against MBS straight to the point, and made it clear that the US government held him responsible. What is embarrassing is that before Biden returned to the country, the Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a face-shaming statement, saying that “I didn’t hear Biden say that during the talks.” Biden may not be so blatantly lying, but Saudi Arabia’s confidence is evident.

In the face of Biden’s “hairpin bend”, why does Cengiz take care of himself?

Before Biden’s visit, Cengiz also wrote a book in “China Post”, the title of which was clearly stated: “Dear President Biden, please don’t break your promise and don’t go to Saudi Arabia.” In the article, she asked Khashoggi: “If America doesn’t stand up to tyranny, who can stand up for freedom, democracy, and human rights? When the world is expecting leaders to stick to principles, and you can’t stand up to those who abuse fundamental values, when are you going to wait? “

Second, even if Biden really has to go, Cengiz hopes that he can pressure the Saudi government to release at least a few unjust prisoners. After Biden met MBS, Cengiz was obviously in a mood of grief and anger, tweeting: “Knowing after Khashoggi’s death, today he will say this: ‘This is what you promised to be held accountable for my killing? In your hands It has been stained with the blood of the next victim of MBS.”

The “fiancee” who perseveres and walks alone

Biden, who has always been talkative, may find it difficult to respond to Cengiz’s questioning without blushing and breathing.

It’s just a matter of reality. The current king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is about to die. MBS is already a de facto ruler and may ascend to the throne at any time. He is only 36 years old and will be the youngest since the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (I am afraid that he will also the longest reigning king. In other words, MBS will be a pivotal leader in the Middle East and even the world in the coming decades, and it is impossible for any US president not to deal with him.

Ensuring national interests and defending universal values ​​is often a fish and a bear’s paw, and one loses the other, and the latter always seems to give way to the former. However, the law of the jungle and the law of interests are only applicable to societies with undeveloped or underdeveloped civilizations. Universal values ​​are like the Holy Grail, and their pursuit is likely to be, or even should be, never-ending. Embody and promote.

Every step of Cengiz’s perseverance and perseverance reminds us how valuable such a process is. (Finish)

About the Author| Yan Jiyu (Master of the Institute of Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University, has long been engaged in interdisciplinary translation and international news reporting and commentary work, and is currently the executive deputy editor-in-chief of “Wind Media”.)

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This article is reprinted from: https://sehseh.substack.com/p/79e
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