The Saudi authorities are continuing their relentless crackdown on human rights activists and civil society supporters. Having sentenced ACPRA member Issa al-Hamid in April to nine years in prison followed by a nine-year ban on travelling abroad, they then handed down a sentence in May on his ACPRA colleague Abdulaziz al-Shubaily of eight years in jail, an eight-year travel ban and an ban on writing.
They also recently opened a new case against Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, who is already in jail, and who addressed a letter to the king some months ago entitled “The Flaws of Depotism”. On Wednesday, August 24 Dr al-Hamid once again underwent interrogation about the letter by the Board of Investigationin al-Ha’ir Prison.
And on September 5 the Specialised Criminal Court issued a new sentence of seven years in prison followed by a 10-year travel ban for Omar al-Sa’id, who had previously been given a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, which he served from June 18, 2013 until his release on December 22, 2015.
The Saudi authorities refuse to let Dr Saud bin Mukhtar al-Hashimi see a doctor, though he is suffering health problems caused by not being allowed out in the sunshine or to take a walk, or even to have the appropriate food for his state of health. Al-Hashimi has been held in detention since 2007, and has suffered medical neglect before, as well as physical and psychological torture, once to extract confessions from him and another time to break his hunger strike. Al-Hashimi mentioned this at his trial and the judge refused to listen. He has symptoms requiring medical treatment and attention, and is not getting adequate care in prison. He is asking to be let out to go to hospital, but the authorities are not responding to his requests, placing his life in danger.
On September 1, 2016 the Saudi authorities detained Salem Hussain al-Zaydani al-Maliki, who had protested against the decree to forcibly evacuate villages in Jizan Province on the Yemeni border. He was arrested by border guards and handed over to the police.
The Saudi authorities are not content with hounding domestic activists. The Specialised Criminal Court has now set September 21 as the date for sentencing activist Ali bin Hussain al-Dubaisi, the German-based head of the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights.
ALQST calls on the international community to press the Saudi authorities to drop all charges against all prisoners of conscience, and to desist from hounding rights activists and restricting freedom of expression.