As Saudi authorities launch PR campaign, war on freedom of expression reaches zenith

As Saudi authorities launch PR campaign, war on freedom of expression reaches zenith

عربي

While the Saudi authorities keep boasting about granting women the right to drive, following a royal decree issued recently by King Salman, the number of people arrested, among them women, has seen a swift upsurge in the kingdom.

The list of arrestees includes academics, journalists, human rights activists and Islamic scholars who have long spoken out against the violations perpetrated by the Saudi authorities and stood up to attempts to suppress personal freedoms.

A few weeks ago, renowned journalist Jamil Farsi was arrested over his outspoken calls for economic reform in the country. In a video circulated on social media, Farsi lashes out at the royal family for controlling gold mining companies in the kingdom. “The money funneled to private companies would be better handed over to our people,” he says.

Shortly after these comments were published, Farsi was arrested by the Saudi authorities, one of many caught up in a frenzied wave of arrests sweeping the country.

ALQST believes such arbitrary arrests represent flagrant violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Article 19 of the UDHR states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The Saudi authorities also arrested al-Abbas Hasan al-Maliki, son of the Islamic scholar Hasan al-Maliki, on account of a tweet in which he confirmed his father’s arrest and urged the authorities to disclose his  father’s fate.

“I confirm that my father Hasan al-Maliki is neither a political opponent, nor a member of a political party, nor a sectarian rival. Never ever has my father disparaged a sect,” al-Abbas al-Maliki said in a tweet in Arabic.

The detention of Khaled al-Awda, brother of the Islamic cleric Salman al-Awda, also came against the backdrop of a tweet in which he announced his brother’s arrest.

Despite the best efforts of ALQST’s documentation team to verify the number of arrestees, official records remain inaccessible due to the information blackout imposed by the Saudi authorities as regards the number and fate of the detainees, along with the reluctance of Saudi families to reveal the names of detained relatives to ALQST and other human rights organisations for fear of retaliation.

The number, wellbeing and whereabouts of those caught up in the sweep remains shrouded in mystery, with reports of further arrests continuing to emerge on social media.

Below is a list compiled by ALQST of 67 arrestees; most of the names have not been officially confirmed, however.

ALQST believes that the socio-economic reforms beginning to take place in Saudi Arabia, most notable being the lifting of the ban on women driving, do nothing to hide the other side of the coin in a country where steps to expand women’s rights have come at the expense of personal freedoms.

Despite the sudden transformation of many facets of Saudi society, recent months have seen simmering crackdowns and human rights abuses, with dozens of activists, scholars, and advocates of socio-political reform thrown into Saudi jails.  

The raft of reforms heralded by the supposedly heralding a breakdown of gender roles in Saudi Arabia has not brought about concrete changes on the ground. The Saudi authorities have intensified internet censorship in an attempt to suppress what can be read, shared, or published and to limit public access to information.  Instructions have also been issued for the king to be given credit for his alleged efforts to boost female participation in the workforce. In reality, tribute should be paid to the activists, male and female, who have long stood up for their suppressed rights.

Saudi Arabia’s hasty adoption of social reforms, clearly under international pressure, is meant to cover up the regime’s deeply repressive nature, as evidenced by the countless number of arrests carried out in such a short timespan, and the suppression of the people’s right to freedom of expression.

 

ALQST calls once again for increased pressure on the Saudi authorities to cease their blatant infringements of human rights and freedom of expression, and to immediately release prisoners of conscience. It is high time real steps were taken to bring about genuine socio-political reform on the ground and rehabilitate the key pillars of democratic politics.

ALQST urges the Saudi authorities to lift their oppressive grip on human rights defenders, to end their systematic suppression of personal freedoms, and to lift censorship on online bloggers and social media users. People should not be sent to prison for speaking up for truth and justice.

 

NAME TIME OF ARREST الإسم Confirmed
1 Abdul Aziz Al-Shabaily HRD 17 9 2017 عبد العزيز الشبيلي Yes
2 Issa Al Hamed HRD 16 9 2017 عيسى الحامد Yes
3 Salman al-Awdah HRS 9 9 2017 د. سلمان العودة Yes
4 Essam Al-Zamil HRS 12 9 2017 عصام الزامل Yes
5 Abdullah al-Maliki HRS 12 9 2017 عبدالله المالكي Yes
6 Mostafa El Hassan HRS 12 9 2017 د. مصطفى الحسن Yes
7 Jameel Farsi HRS جميل فارسي Yes
8 Mubark bin Zuair HRS د. مبارك بن زعير Yes
9 Aisha al Marzug 6 10 2017 عائشة المرزوق Yes
10 Ruqia al Muhareb S د. رقية المحارب Yes
11 Awad Al Qarni B 9 9 2017 د. عوض القرني Yes
12 Ali Al Aomri B 9 9 2017 د. علي العمري Yes
13 Aadel BaNaaimah B 12 9 2017 د. عادل باناعمة Yes
14 Ali Badhadah B 12 9 2017 د. علي بادحدح Yes
15 Ibrahim Al Harthy B 11 9 2017 د. إبراهيم الحارثي Yes
16 Gurom ALbeshi S 11 9 2017 غرم البيشي Yes
17 Jamal al Najem S جمال الناجم Yes
18 Khaled al-Awda 12 9 2017 د. خالد العودة Yes
19 Hassan Farhan al – Maliki 11 9 2017 د. حسن فرحان المالكي Yes
20 ALABBAS Hassan al – Maliki العباس بن حسن فرحان Yes
21 Sami al Majed د. سامي الماجد Yes
22 Menawer al Abdali مناور النوب العبدلي Yes
23 Ziad Ben Nahit 11 9 2017 زياد بن نحيت Yes
24 Mohamed Mousa El Sherif B 11 9 2017 د. محمد موسى الشريف Yes
25 Rabee Hafez B 14 9 2017 ربيع حافظ Yes
26 Khaled al Ojaimi B د. خالد بن عبدالرحمن العجيمي Yes
27 Walid Al Huwairini S 12 9 2017 وليد الهويريني
28 Hamoud Ali Al Amri S 12 9 2017 حمود علي العمري
29 Mohammed Al-Shnar S 12 9 2017 محمد الشنار
30 Abdulmohsen Al Ahmad S 12 9 2017 د. عبدالمحسن الأحمد
31 Mohammed al-Khudairi S 11 9 2017 د. محمد الخضيري
32 Mohammed Al – Habdan S 11 9 2017 د. محمد الهبدان
33 Yousef Al – Ahmad S 11 9 2017 د. يوسف الأحمد
34 Abdul Aziz Al Abdul Latif S 11 9 2017 د. عبدالعزيز آلعبداللطيف
35 Fahad Al Sunaidi S 11 9 2017 د. فهد السنيدي
36 Ibrahim Al-Nasser S 11 9 2017 د. ابراهيم الناصر Yes
37 Ibrahim Al Fares S 11 9 2017 إبراهيم الفارس
38 Mohammed bin Othman al-Zahrani. S محمد بن عثمان الزهراني
39 Khaled Al Rashoudi S خالد الرشودي
40 Omar Al Hossain S عمر الحصين
41 Sultan bin Shaddah S سلطان بن شدة
42 Bandar Al-Tuwaijri S بندر التويجري
43 Turki Al Sheikh S تركي آل شيخ
44 Mohammed Al-Dowsary S محمد الدوسري
45 Abdul Latif Al-Abdullatif S عبداللطيف العبداللطيف
46 Abdulaziz Al-Zahrani S د. عبدالعزيز الزهراني
47 Ahmad al Sawian S 20 9 2017 د. أحمد الصويان
48 Mousa al Ganami S موسى الغنامي
49 Malek al Ahmad S د. مالك الأحمد Yes
50 Mosad al Kathiri S مساعد الكثيري
51 Mohammed al Barrak S د. محمد البراك
52 Senhat al Otaibi S صنهات العتيبي
53 Habeeb al Loiheq S د. حبيب بن معلا اللويحق
54 Saad Mater al Otaibi S سعد مطر العتيبي
55 Idris Mohamed Abker 15 9 2017 إدريس محمد أبكر
56 Khaled Al Mahoushi 12 9 2017 خالد المهاوش
57 Yousef Al – Mohaus د. يوسف المهوس
58 Yousuf al Mulhem يوسف الملحم
59 Ali Abu al Hassan د. علي أبو الحسن
60 Ahmed Al – Amira أحمد العميرة
61 Fawzan al Ghazlan فوزان الغسلان
62 Sami al Thubaiti سامي الثبيتي
63 Abdullah al Suailem عبدالله السويلم
64 Razin al Razin رزين الرزين
65 Yousef al Farraj يوسف بن عبدالعزيز الفراج
66 Salem al Daiini د. سالم أحمد الديني
67 Khaled al Alkami خالد العلكمي

 

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