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Saudi Arabia

    August 08, 2017

    On his 17th birthday, Omar al-Qahtani writes about his dad, Mohammad al-Qahtani, a human rights defender and founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of Saudi Arabia’s few independent human rights organizations. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence for peacefully calling for reforms in the country.

    My name is Omar Al-Qahtani and today I turn 17.

    I have two brothers and two sisters, oldest is Abdullah (20), then Norah (18), than me, then Othman (15), and Layla (4). Then there’s also Harley Davidson (24 weeks), our kitten.

    We are what you would call a regular family, except we are far away from our father, who’s been in prison in Saudi Arabia for 5 years. Thankfully though, we talk to him every day. My father is a really brave man who will never give up on his beliefs. We are all so proud of him.

    My father loves to have fun with us and to enjoy life but he is very serious when it comes to school and work. Before his arrest, life in Saudi Arabia was different: easier, simpler. 

    June 17, 2017

    Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was detained on June 17, 2012 and sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. He was also sentenced to a cruel and inhuman punishment of 1,000 lashes. On January 9, 2015 he received the first 50 of these in a public square in Jeddah.

    #FreeRaif - 5 Years

    10 years in prison. 1000 lashes for writing words of peace. Today marks 5 years since Raif Badawi's arrest, and his children have a message for Saudi Arabia. ACT NOW! Join their demand to #FreeRaif >> http://amn.st/61818mLd3

    Posted by Amnesty International Canada on Saturday, 17 June 2017

    March 21, 2017

    March 21 marks Mother’s Day in much of the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia. For the mothers of Abdullah al-Zaher, Dawood al-Marhoon, Ali al-Nimr and Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, four young Saudi Arabian men who were arrested as minors and sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on “confessions” they say were extracted under torture, Mother’s Day is a day of heartache. But it is also yet another day of hope and prayer for their sons’ release.

    This is what the mothers of the four young men, Fatima al-Azwi, Amina al-Safar, Nassra al-Ahmed and Amina al-Mustafa have to share today, on Mother’s day, on how they feel and what they wish for other mothers like them.  

     

    Fatima al-Azwi

    Abdullah al-Zaher’s mother

    August 29, 2016

    By Rasha Mohamed and Rasha Abdul Rahim

    The airstrike on Abs Rural Hospital in Yemen's Hajjah governorate on 15 August was the fourth attack on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in 10 months. That didn't lessen the shock.

    Sixteen-year-old ambulance driver Ayman Issa Bakri was among the 10 dead. He had been working there since MSF began supporting the hospital in the summer of 2015. When his body was found near the impact site, he was still holding the woman he had been transferring from the ambulance to the A&E.

    Shortly after, MSF announced it was winding up its operations in Yemen; it is hard to imagine the despair that Yemenis feel when the only hospital for miles disappears.

    At the site of the ruined hospital, Amnesty International identified remnants of bombs that appear to have been manufactured either in the USA or the UK. This would be consistent with what we know about prolific arms exports by these countries to Saudi Arabia and other members of its military coalition.

    July 04, 2016
    By Tawanda Mutasah, Senior Director International Law and Policy at Amnesty International

    Ten years since it was first created the UN Human Rights Council is facing a stark moment of truth.  The credibility of the world’s top human rights body, which was set up to ensure that it is able to effectively address human rights violations without being undermined by geopolitics and competing national interests, is being called into question because of the abysmal track record of one of its members – Saudi Arabia - and the failure of other members to call it to account.

    Since it joined the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014 Saudi Arabia has carried out gross and systematic human rights violations both at home and in neighbouring Yemen.  

    It has consistently ranked as one of the world’s top executioners, has presided over a ruthless crackdown against peaceful dissent and human rights activism in Saudi Arabia and most recently lead a military coalition which stands accused of carrying out war crimes in Yemen.

    February 12, 2016

    By Nassra al-Ahmed

    Ali al-Nimr was just 17 when he was arrested on 14 February 2012, a few months after taking part in anti-government rallies in Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to death, despite being a minor when he was arrested and following a deeply unfair trial based on “confessions” he says were obtained through torture. He now awaits his execution. His mother, Nassra al-Ahmed, tells their story.

    When I first heard the verdict to execute my little boy, I felt as if a thunderbolt was hitting my head. It rendered me bereaved and rid of the most cherished and beautiful things I have.

    His absence has exhausted my heart. My eyes shed tears automatically, yearning for him. I am overtaken by missing his angelic features. His smile never leaves my mind and memories prompt me to weep each time I see one of his pictures. 

    February 02, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

    There has been considerable debate recently about the revelations that Ottawa’s Algonquin College (as well as Niagara College in Welland) has reached a lucrative deal to operate a campus in Saudi Arabia that will offer courses to men only.

    It puts a third story about Canadian connections to human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia on the public record. That unenviable statistic is, sadly, not at all surprising. Amnesty International released a briefing paper this month in which we documented a sharp deterioration in respect for human rights in Saudi Arabia over the past year, including a serious clampdown on free expression and deeply troubling findings that Saudi forces that have intervened in the conflict in neighbouring Yemen have been responsible for extensive violations, including war crimes.

    January 08, 2016

    Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi was released from custody on January 13. But her arrest provides further damning proof of the Saudi authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissen. One year after Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, he and many other activists across Saudi Arabia urgently need your support.

     

    by Ella Knight, Amnesty International

    A year after the international outcry over his public flogging, Raif Badawi and dozens of activists remain in prison and at risk of cruel punishments in Saudi Arabia. More and more are being sentenced under a harsh counter-terrorism law, while Saudi Arabia’s allies shamelessly back the Kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Join the fight back today – here are six ways you can demand action from Saudi Arabia.
     

    November 06, 2015

     

    By Stephanie Tran – Youth Intern, Amnesty International

     

    Over 30 000. That’s the number of cards of solidarity written for Raif Badawi with urgent calls for his freedom. Written by supporters from around the world, sentiments of solidarity came from around 20 countries altogether. Along with Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi’s wife, we brought 17 boxes filled with these cards to the Saudi Arabian Embassy. They refused to accept any of them.

    “What does the Saudi Embassy fear by refusing them?,” asked Director General of Amnesty Canada’s Francophone Branch, Beatrice Vaugrante. “It is disappointing but it will in no way lessen our determination to campaign for Raif.”

    October 16, 2015

    By Mohammed al-Nimr, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

    Every time I enter and leave my house through our garage, a bicycle in the corner catches my eye, shining brightly. 

    Looking at that bicycle brings back painful memories of my young son Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death and is facing imminent execution in my homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    I remember Ali standing before me when I promised to buy him that bicycle if he passed sixth grade. I recall how happy he was when we went to buy it together. He was over the moon, just like any other young boy would be, to get his first bicycle.

    I remember how his elder brother taught him how to ride it, and how I would warn him to look both ways on the road and watch out for reckless drivers. What pain filled my heart every time he fell! I am his father after all.

    These scenes rush through my mind every time I walk in the streets of my beautiful home village, Awamiyya, and see children riding their bicycles. I always pray for God to protect them, but I cannot always hold back the tears.

    June 16, 2015

    By Sevag Kechichian, Saudi Arabia Researcher at Amnesty International

    Today, like many people around the world, I waited to find out if Raif Badawi would again be hauled out of his prison cell and mercilessly lashed another 50 times in a public square in Jeddah.

    The same suspense has gripped people for 23 weeks since the first time this act of cruelty was inflicted on the imprisoned blogger on 9 January this year. That day, a crowd of onlookers gathered in the square immediately after Friday prayers to witness this hateful spectacle.

    While flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are commonplace in Saudi Arabia, they are not necessarily carried out on Fridays and in public. There is often an air of secrecy even around the many beheadings and other executions in the country – which have seen a macabre spike since the beginning of this year.

    Amnesty International has campaigned for Raif’s release since his arrest in 2012. Since he was flogged, it joined more than a million activists, journalists and political leaders in calling for an end to the horror and for his immediate release.

    May 23, 2015

    By Lama Fakih, AMnesty International Crisis Resposne Team. Follow Lama on Twitter @lamamfakih

    As the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen resumed earlier this week, after a brief ceasefire, hospitals across the capital were getting ready to treat an influx of the wounded despite dwindling supplies of medicine and fuel. Doctors were going over detailed lists of needed medications, recruiting volunteer staff, and making black-market deals for overpriced diesel and fuel to keep generators and ambulances running. Some staff were taking up residence in the hospital to avoid the time and cost of travel to and fro.

    But despite their best efforts, the needs of the war wounded far outweigh the services these medical workers can provide. Sanaa’s publicly-run Kuwait Hospital was one of several hospitals where staff said they had to send patients away, because essential equipment had become inoperable without electricity or fuel for generators.

    April 16, 2015

    A letter from Samar Badawi to her imprisoned husband, the Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Samar is also the sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

    Words are not enough for me to express how proud I am of my husband. How deeply proud I am of the man who believed in me and my cause when I was imprisoned. As my lawyer, he defended me and never left me alone to face those who unjustly attempted to impose their patriarchal authority over me just because I am a woman who dared to speak up. Everyone turned their backs on me except for my husband who remained by my side until he had helped achieve justice for my cause.

    He has always been my rock whenever I felt weak, he was my strength and my source of motivation and inspiration.

    April 14, 2015

    By Ensaf Haidar, via The Washington Post

    On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.

    Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.

    March 05, 2015

    Tomorrow marks eight weeks since the Saudi Arabian authorities publicly flogged the blogger and activist Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam” and founding an online forum for political debate.

    After his first session of 50 lashes in front of a mosque in Jeddah on 9 January, a doctor advised prison authorities that his wounds had not healed sufficiently for him to undergo the second round of this brutal punishment.

    The following Friday, while a medical committee had advised that Raif Badawi should not be flogged because of high blood pressure, another prison doctor insisted that there was nothing wrong with him and that he should be flogged. Then, for five consecutive weeks the Friday floggings were not carried out for reasons that remain unknown. It is anybody’s guess whether the next part of his sentence will be carried out tomorrow.

    Raif Badawi has made headlines around the world. But his case is just the tip of the iceberg for the Gulf Kingdom’s appalling human rights record. Here are 10 sobering facts from Amnesty International’s research:

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