The Independent: torture, sexual abuse, and executions in Saudi prisons

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London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”:

In an exclusive report for the Independent newspaper, it said that the detained activists were subjected to sexual assault, torture and execution in Saudi prisons. The report was prepared by Maya Oppenheim, in which she said that she had seen a study revealing widespread violations practiced and described by an activist as “the worst violations imaginable that occurred here.”
The study reveals the suffering of 309 political prisoners from human rights violations since Mohammed bin Salman assumed the mandate of the Covenant in 2017. The “Grant Liberty” organization prepared the study in which it was stated that people face the death penalty for crimes that occurred when they were as young as nine. Researchers said that 20 prisoners were arrested for political crimes they committed when they were children, including five who were executed and 13 facing the death penalty.
The study, which came on the eve of the G20 summit in Riyadh, reveals that among the detainees, 27 women activists, 6 of whom were subjected to sexual assaults.
The activist’s sister, Loujain Al-Hathloul, who has gone on hunger strike for 23 days, said she was tortured and sexually abused in prison. Lina Al-Hathloul said, “My sister is a recipient of human rights awards, and she has been nominated for the Nobel Prize and is celebrated around the world … with the exception of her homeland, where she is in a security prison where she is tortured, insulted and sexually abused.”

She added, “As long as women remain in Saudi Arabia, they cannot speak. It is the duty of the international community to raise its voice on their behalf. ”

Since 26 October, Loujain has gone on hunger strike to protest the authorities ’refusal to allow her to have regular contact with her relatives. Human rights organizations said that Loujain was forced to endure and face abuse, electric shocks and sexual harassment while in prison.
Loujain was arrested with ten activists who demanded Saudi women’s rights, including the right to drive, in May 2018, weeks before the ban on women driving was lifted. Loujain is awaiting trial on charges of communicating with foreign entities hostile to the Saudi government, recruiting government employees to collect classified information, and providing financial support to hostile bodies to the Kingdom abroad. Saudi officials denied the torture charges, and said they were investigating allegations of ill-treatment.
The newspaper quoted Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi activist who lives in exile, as saying: “In 2012 I got political asylum in Britain, and since that time I have been calling for an end to dictatorial and totalitarian policies in Saudi Arabia.” And “I was lucky to be out, but my family’s situation is another story. My mother, Aida Al-Ghamdi, and two of my brothers were arrested. No explanation was given for their arrest, and no room for denying the truth, they were arrested because of my activism and not because they committed a crime. My mother is 64 years old and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. He added, “When I was arrested with my two brothers, they were tortured in front of each other. They were tortured and the cigarette butts were extinguished in their bodies, and my brother was forced to record a video that disavows me. Saudi social media channels can … and I was told that any contact with my family would expose its members to danger.

Al-Ghamdi says that he is still prohibited from communicating with his mother or brother. Adding that the lack of contact with them hurts him. The study indicates a widespread and prolonged use of solitary confinement. The security authorities prevented the detainees from communicating with lawyers.

Abdullah Al-Awda, son of a prominent Saudi reformist activist, Sheikh Salman Al-Awda, said: “My father faces the death penalty, and his crime is to post a harmless tweet to 14 million of his followers hoping for an end to the diplomatic confrontation with Qatar. And they want to kill my father, and if they did it would be a murder with the consent of the state. ”

“The report details the broad-based violations, killings, torture, sexual assaults and the worst human rights violations imaginable,” said Lucy Ray, a spokeswoman for Grant Liberty. She added, “The rest of the world should wake up, and Saudi Arabia should not be welcomed among the community of respectable countries at a time when they torture, abuse and kill their own people.”

Amnesty called on the leaders to demand the release of Loujain Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nouf Abdel Aziz and Maya Al-Zahrani, who were arrested in 2018 for their human rights work “immediately and without conditions.”

The report comes amid calls by Amnesty International, participants in the virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia over the weekend, to “rebuke Saudi Arabia for its shameful hypocrisy regarding women’s rights,” especially since the empowerment of women is one of the summit’s agenda.

Amnesty called on the leaders to demand the release of Loujain Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nouf Abdel Aziz and Maya Al-Zahrani, who were arrested in 2018 for their human rights work “immediately and without conditions.”

“The G20 summit is important for Saudi Arabia and it is a moment for them to reveal their reform agenda to the world and the opening of their country to trade,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. “At the same time, the real Saudi reformers are behind bars. Instead of proceeding with the Saudi narrative bleaching the image, the leaders of the G20 should use the occasion and stand with the courageous activists whose commitment to the cause of women’s promotion of their freedom has cost them.

She said that Saudi Arabia will use the reforms that the activists have called for in order to obtain economic opportunity and political praise, and “the activists who continue to fight for human rights in Saudi Arabia are the voices of reform and they should be listened to, not imprisoned.”

Adam Coogle, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that the G20 presidency gave the government of Mohammed bin Salman “a mark of respect that it does not deserve on the international stage.” He added, “At a time when the harshest and widest period of persecution of civil and political rights was imposed in the history of Saudi Arabia.”





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