Saudi Arabia: Continued Detention of Five Human Rights Defenders, Four without Standing Trial
Beirut, December 8, 2011 – The Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately release five Human Rights defenders. The Centre also condemns the extrajudicial detention and constant harassment of human rights defenders and bloggers in the Kingdom. Four human rights defenders, Mukhlaf Al-Shamri, Fadeel Al- Manasef, Mohamed Salih Al-Bijadi, and Mubarak Bin Zaair, along with the blogger, Ali al-Dibaysi have been targeted and detained by the Saudi authorities. All of the detained come from areas that witnessed pro-reform protests, such as Al-Awamiya in Eastern Province and Barida. Four of the human rights defenders have been held without any official charges being declared against them and only one had stood trial so far on trumped up accusations of harming the country's image and possessing banned books.
Ali al-Dibaysi, a young blogger and human rights defender from Al-Awamiya, a town in Eastern Province that has witnessed anti-government protests, was detained in September 2011. He has been able to contact his family just once. In his writings, published in Rasid, a news website focusing on Eastern Province, he indirectly criticized the ruling authorities in the Kingdom. On November 21, 2011, he was transferred to Al-Dammam General Prison, where he remains to this day. No charges have been made against him and after two months in detention, he has still not been put on trial. He has also not given access to a lawyer.
Mohamed Salih Al-Bijadi, a human rights defender, was detained on March 21, 2011, following demonstrations in his hometown of Barida. Protesters in Barida demanded the release of nine prisoners who have been held for almost 16 years without trial, in connection with the 1996 explosion in Al-Khobar compound. Al-Bijadi was one of the participants in the demonstrations, a Saudi defender told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. The General Investigator's office has searched his house, and confiscating his personal computer along with several of his books. He was arrested without a warrant. He is accused of belonging to an illegal organization, ownership of banned books, and harming country's image. He has spent almost 4 months in solitary confinement and was then transferred to be with other prisoners in an overcrowded cell, and has also not given access to medical care according to information obtained by the Centre.
Al-Bijadi is also one of the founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, a local Human Rights organization that aims to raise awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Saudi Arabia, there is still no Law for associations. Most human rights organizations cannot register their work officially and being a member of unofficial human rights organization is illegal.
Al-Bijadi is widely respected in Saudi Arabia among human rights defenders due to his human rights work, several human rights defenders told GCHR. He has spoken up in support of the Arab revolutions and has criticized the crackdown against Bahraini peaceful protesters, a unique stance in the oil Kingdom. Al-Bijadi has been targeted and received many threats of imprisonment and physical harm to him and his family. He was imprisoned twice in 2009 as a result of his human rights work.
Mubarak Bin Zaair, a human rights defender, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arabic at the Islamic University of Imam Muhammad bin Saud, was arrested in March 2011, in connection with his participation in a demonstration in front of the Ministry of the Interior in Riyadh. He is being held in Al-Malaz criminal prison without charges and proper medical care. He has prosthetic knees, feels severe pain and requires an operation, his friend informed GCHR. Bin Zaair has served as mediator between the families of detained Saudis citizens and the Ministry of Interior. According to local activists, there are at least 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia and most of them are being held without charge. Bin Zaair was detained without a warrant and authorities have not allowed him to contact his family or a lawyer, according to Bin Zaair's letter describing his ordeal sent to the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association. "During transportation, I was roughed up," Bin Zaair said in the letter. He was blindfolded, verbally abused, and his legs were tightened too. "They put me in solitary confinement, in a cell consisting basically of a small dirty bathroom smelling of sewage. I was not given a mattress and had to sleep on a bare ground. The cell itself symbolized the abuse of a human being, and a lack of respect for human dignity," Bin Zaair said in the letter. He was not provided with toilet supplies, additional clothing, and a mattress for six days. He was informed by the guards that the Criminal Investigation Division ordered them to subject Bin Zaair to this harsh treatment.
Fadeel al-Manasef, a human rights defender, who has been monitoring human rights violations in Eastern Province as an independent field researcher, was detained for the first time in May 2011 in connection with his participation in peaceful demonstrations that took place in Al-Awamiya. He was released on August 11, 2011. On October 2, 2011, he was rearrested and is currently being held in the Investigation Prison in Al-Dammam without official charges. He was arrested after he went to a police station as a human rights defender to protest the unlawful arrest of an elderly person. The elderly man had been arrested to put pressure on his son, who had participated in the Al-Awamiya protests, to give himself up to the police. Al-Manasef has trained people to monitor and document human rights violations and organized workshops to raise awareness regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia, several activists told GCHR.
Mukhlaf al-Shimri, a human rights defender, who has been jailed for the past 18 months without trial. He has been referred recently to the Saudi Criminal Court specializing in national security and terrorism cases. On November 25, 2011, Shimri's family released a statement via Facebook page calling for Al-Shimri's release and asking the Minister of Justice to refer his case back to the Ministry of Information and committees dealing with publication and media cases. According to the family, accusations against Shimri are related to his critical media appearances, as well as his human rights activism and six articles he has published online. In his articles, Al-Shimri has criticized hard-line religious views and public officials. The family said that Shimri expressed his views and beliefs on public matters and did not participate in any activity related to terrorism, adding that they "were shocked to hear that his case was referred to the court specializing in state security and terrorism." Al-Shimiri, is a well-known human rights defender, has been kept in detention since June 20, 2010 and has still not been put on trial.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights strongly believes that the continued detention of human rights defenders, Mukhlaf Al-Shamri, Fadeel Al- Manasef, Mohamed Salih Al-Bijadi, Mubarak Bin Zaair, and Ali al-Dibaysi is an attempt to prevent them from conducting their peaceful and legitimate activities in the defense of human rights and forms part of an ongoing pattern of intimidation, threats and attacks against human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is very concerned for the safety and well-being of the five human rights defenders while in detention and fears that they are victims of torture and ill-treatment.
For more information, please contact:
Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English) +973-396-333-99
In Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English) +961-701-595-52
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been established and registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
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It was the usual "We-Muslims-can-kill each other-but-Jews-cannot" hysteria.
If Turkish crowds were protesting against Israel in a political dispute, why Koranic slogans? Why were they protesting in Arabic rather than their native language? Do Turks chant German slogans to protest nuclear energy?
by Burak Bekdil
So in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech. This is contagious.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu's campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the "Palestinian cause" included any affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, "…The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
Turkey is also the country where a few years earlier, a group of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration to commemorate Hitler.
by Debalina Ghoshal
Despite Chapter VII of the UN Charter and UNSC Resolutions, it seems that North Korea will continue developing its missiles -- and eventually weaponize them with nuclear warheads.
"North Korea's ballistic and nuclear threat is very much a near-term threat. ... Steady progression in their program is not harmless." — Victor Cha, Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
On March 26, 2014, North Korea reportedly test-fired medium-range ballistic Rodong missiles -- capable of reaching Japan and U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
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Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.