Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20 of the UDHR).
States Parties recognise the right of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly (Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia ratified in 1996).
Article 24 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights states that every citizen has the right to freely form and join associations with others. It also states the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
However, the Saudi authorities have over time, banned and refused to acknowledge any associations formed and have stopped many peaceful assemblies from taking place. Judgments passed by the Courts order the associations to be closed and have punished those activists involved.
On the 28th of March 2011, the Saudi authorities arrested Mahommad Albjadi, one of the founders of Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), following a sit-in outside the Interior Minister’s office in Riyadh.
Albjadi had previously been arrested under similar charges in 2007 and 2008. The authorities accused him of several accusations including having in his possession books that are banned, supporting protests and for his role in establishing ACPRA. He has been sentenced to four years in prison following a 5 years ban on international travel once his sentence has been served.
Albjadi’s colleagues in ACPRA are all charged with different crimes that are without much substance and beyond any legal backdrop the charges are all related to the right to association and peaceful assembly.
– Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, founder of ACPRA, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
– Dr. Mohammah Fahd Al-Qahtani, founder of ACPRA, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
– Omar Sayeed, member of ACPRA has been sentenced to 4 years in prisons along with 300 lashes.
– Dr Abdulkareem Al-Khoder, founder of ACPRA, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison following a 10 year ban on international travel once sentence has been served.
– ACPRA has been banned by the Courts and its estate including bank accounts have been seized by the Saudi government.
– Waleed Abu Al-Khair, founder of Monitor Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA) is under investigation by the Bureau Of Investigations And Public Prosecution and the Specialised Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia. He is accused of sending a letter to King Abdullah with the view of registering MHRSA as an association in Saudi Arabia. He also has an indefinite ban on international travel.
In 2011, several political activists established the Islamic Omaah Party and were arrested immediately.
There have been several attempts by other activists to form associations and peaceful assembly but all have faced obstructions by the government.
We at ALQST call for your support to fight for the freedom of association and peaceful assembly without any threat or fear from the government or the authorities. To steer clear from violence and keep fighting for your right to association and peaceful assembly.