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Saudi Arabia Unleashing 'Systematic and Ruthless' Repression Against Dissenters

OWoN: So much for free speech in Saudi Arabia.

The company you keep defines you.


Front row, left to right: Dr Abdullah al - Hamid, Waleed Abu al - Khair, Dr Mohammad al - Qahtani, Sheikh Suliaman al - Rashudi, Dr Abdulkareem al - Khoder, following a trial session on al - Hamid and al - Qahtani - Image Courtesy of Amnesty International Report


Saudi Arabia Unleashing 'Systematic and Ruthless' Repression Against Dissenters: Report


Key US ally slammed in Amnesty International report for incarcerating, torturing, harassing, and abusing human rights campaigners

Common Dreams
By Sarah Lazare
10 October 2014

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is methodically harassing, detaining, and abusing human rights campaigners, going to "extreme lengths to hound critics into silent submission," according to a report released Thursday by Amnesty International.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities have consolidated their iron grip on power through a systematic and ruthless campaign of persecution against peaceful activists in a bid to suppress any criticism of the state in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

Entitled Saudi Arabia’s ACPRA: How the Kingdom Silences Its Human Rights Activists (pdf), the report focuses on the stories of 11 campaigners with the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, which Amnesty describes as "one of the country’s few independent human rights organizations." Since the group was created in 2009, each of its founding members has been targeted by Saudi authorities: three are serving prison terms of up to 15 years; two are currently incarcerated without trial; three are awaiting trial, with the likelihood of incarceration; and three stood trial and are currently released.

But these numbers only tell part of the story. Most of the 11 members detained were held incommunicado for time spans ranging a few days to several months. Once they made it to trial, they faced charges ranging from "breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler" to "inciting public opinion against the authorities" to "terrorism" under relatively new legislation aimed at providing the state cover to go after peaceful dissenters, according to the report. Furthermore, judges, lawyers, defendants, and their supporters faced courtroom intimidation from feared security and intelligence officers during the trials.

Those who were incarcerated faced and continue to endure harrowing conditions in prison, including reported incidents of torture and degradation, prompting four of them to go on hunger strike. ACPRA member Mohammed al-Bajadi was force-fed after waging multiple hunger strikes, according to the report. "The world is dying around us in search of freedom and dignity. Is it too much to spend few nights in detention for them?" al-Bajadi tweeted during his temporary release from prison in August 2013.

A video produced by Amnesty illustrates the toll of a ten-year prison sentence on the family of ACPRA member Mohammad al-Qahtani.

In a dark irony, the human rights campaigners were targeted for opposing the detention and torture policies of Saudi Arabian authorities. "ACPRA members spoke out repeatedly against the detention practices of the Saudi Arabian authorities and were especially critical of the Ministry of Interior and its feared security and intelligence branch, the General Directorate of Investigations (GDI) or al Mabahith, whose officers wield extensive powers and are able to arrest, detain, torture and abuse those they suspect with impunity," states the report.

These cases occur in a context where "virtually all the country's leading human rights activists are the imprisoned victims of an unrelenting official crackdown on criticism, dissent and other exercise of the right to freedom of expression," the report states. The crackdown has worsened in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011 and includes a ban on public protests; prohibitions preventing some dissenters from traveling abroad; orders to cease human rights advocacy; crackdown on online activism and social media; and a series of new laws criminalizing dissent. As activist and writer Rami Elamine points out, Saudi Arabia's repressive practices expand beyond its own borders; the nation played a key counter-revolutionary role throughout the region during and after the 2011 Arab Spring.

Amnesty, which often shies from criticizing U.S. foreign policy, takes the step of admonishing the U.S. for its complicity in the abuses outlined in the report. "Saudi Arabia has long evaded effective international scrutiny for its dire human rights record," notes the organization in a summary of its findings. "It remains one of the USA’s long-standing allies in the 'war on terror' including the recent air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) armed group in Iraq and Syria."

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2 comments :

  1. Time to repay them with the same treatment as they treat moderate people......I would do it publicly so that people see what kind of heroes they actually are....

    ReplyDelete
  2. S Arabia manipulates oil price for political gains: Russian official
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/10/13/382111/saudi-arabia-manipulating-oil-price/

    A high-ranking Russian energy official has accused oil-rich Saudi Arabia of manipulating oil prices in the global markets for political reasons.

    "The current price dynamic, which has been developing for the last few months, may not reflect the objective trend," Mikhail Leontyev, vice president of Russia's state-owned oil giant, Rosneft, told the Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio station on Sunday.

    "Prices can be manipulative. First of all, Saudi Arabia has begun making big discounts on oil. This is political manipulation," said Leontyev, adding, “The second factor is the stolen ISIL oil, which reaches the market through Turkey and Israel with a triple discount. It is not much, but it is stolen, so it is cheap."

    Moscow needs high oil prices to prop up its economy, which has been hit by sanctions over Ukraine as well as a drop in domestic demand.

    Russia favors an oil price of around one hundred dollars a barrel to cover Moscow’s future spending.

    The Rosneft vice president’s remarks come amid reports that Saudi officials have given the green light for lowering oil prices.

    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is reportedly comfortable with prices as low as USD 80 per barrel for the next two years.

    ReplyDelete

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