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Saudi Arabia

    January 14, 2015

    Human rights activists in Ottawa will be holding a demonstration outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, 201 Sussex Drive at 4 p.m. Thursday 15 January in advance of the flogging of Raif Badawi set to resume on Friday 16 January.

    The Saudi Arabian authorities have an opportunity to improve their appalling human rights record by heeding the international outcry about the public flogging of Raif Badawi and halting it immediately, said Amnesty International.

    January 09, 2015

    An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been named for security reasons.

    When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today.

    They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew. But no one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray?

    January 09, 2015

    A witness has confirmed to Amnesty International that the flogging of Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi took place this morning after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

    According to the witness after the prayers ended Raif Badawi was removed from a bus in shackles and brought to the public square in front of the mosque. Surrounded by a crowd made up of the public and a number of security officers, he received 50 consecutive lashes on his back. The whole ordeal lasted around 15 minutes. Afterwards he was put back in the bus and taken away.

    “The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

    January 08, 2015

    Amnesty International has learned that the imprisoned Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public after Friday prayers tomorrow in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

    Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Raif Badawi will receive up to 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.

    December 09, 2014

    Two women who were arrested last week for driving their cars to Saudi Arabia have been detained for 25 further days signalling the Kingdom’s unwillingness to end discrimination against women. Amnesty International has consistently called for the ban to be overturned.

    Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested at al-Batha border crossing after attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates on 30 November. Maysaa al-Amoudi was also arrested at the border the next day when she attempted to bring some basic supplies to Loujain al-Hathoul even though she told the authorities she did not intend to drive inside Saudi Arabia.

    “Jailing a woman simply for driving a car is preposterous. These women are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    October 15, 2014

    A death sentence passed today against a dissident Shi’a Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia for “disobeying the ruler”, “inciting sectarian strife” and “encouraging, leading and participating in demonstrations” after a deeply flawed trial is appalling and must be immediately quashed, said Amnesty International.

    “The death sentence against Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr is part of a campaign by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to crush all dissent, including those defending the rights of the Kingdom’s Shi’a Muslim community,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    Sheikh al-Nimr’s brother, Mohammad al-Nimr, was reportedly arrested after the sentence was passed at the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh.

    The reasons for Mohammad al-Nimr’s arrest and his whereabouts remain unknown – although it is believed he was detained after tweeting about his brother’s death sentence.

    October 09, 2014

    Posted at 0301 GMT 10 October 2014

    Peaceful human rights activists have been routinely harassed, rounded up like criminals and often ill-treated in detention as the Saudi Arabian authorities go to extreme lengths to hound critics into silent submission, said Amnesty International in a campaign briefing published today.

    Saudi Arabia’s ACPRA: How the Kingdom silences its human rights activists profiles 11 members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) - one of the country’s few independent human rights organizations - who have been jailed or are on trial facing imprisonment, in connection with their human rights work over the past three years.

    “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.

    August 22, 2014

    The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is continuing unabated with another beheading scheduled for Monday 25 August, said Amnesty International today.

    The planned beheading of Hajras al-Qurey will be the 23rd execution in the last three weeks -- although more could take place on Saturday and Sunday. Earlier this week the organisation called on the Kingdom to halt all executions after four members of the same family were beheaded for “receiving drugs”.

    “The execution of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia. It is absolutely shocking to witness the Kingdom’s authorities callous disregard to fundamental human rights,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe.”

    August 18, 2014

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions, Amnesty International said after four members of the same family were executed today as part of a “disturbing” recent surge in the use of the death penalty in the country.

    The two sets of brothers from the same extended family were killed this morning in the south-eastern city of Najran after being convicted of “receiving large quantities of hashish”, reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture.

    It brings the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks to 17 - a rate of more than one execution per day.

    “The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 14, 2014

    The outrageous eight year prison sentence against a Shi’a cleric in Saudi Arabia for criticizing its leaders is the latest example of a disturbing pattern of harassment and discrimination against the country’s Shi’a community, said Amnesty International.

    Sheikh Tawfiq al-`Amr, a Shi’a cleric in the al-Ahsa governorate, was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by a 10-year travel ban, and barred from delivering religious sermons.

    He was yesterday convicted by the Specialized Criminal Court on charges of defaming Saudi Arabia’s ruling system, ridiculing the mentality of its religious leaders, inciting sectarianism, calling for change and disobeying the ruler. The charges are in connection to a number of public speeches he has delivered since 2011.

    “Sheikh Tawfiq al-`Amr is the latest Shi’a cleric to pay a very high price for refusing to be silenced,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.  

    July 07, 2014

    The sentencing of a prominent Saudi Arabian lawyer and human rights defender to 15 years in prison has dealt a fresh blow to peaceful activism and freedom of expression in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.

    The Specialized Criminal Court in Jeddah convicted Waleed Abu al-Khair of a string of “offences” including “inciting international organizations against the government” and “breaking allegiance to the ruler” among others. He will also be subject to a 15-year travel ban after his release.

    He is the latest in a long list of human rights activists who have been harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by Saudi Arabia’s authorities in recent months.
    Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations. His former client Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in May for setting up an online forum for public debate.

    During his sentencing, the judge invoked article 21 of Saudi Arabia’s repressive new anti-terrorism law in addition to the more commonly cited cyber-crime laws used to imprison activists.

    June 25, 2014

    A prominent Saudi Arabian activist convicted today for speaking out on the human rights situation in his country should have his sentence quashed, Amnesty International said amid an ongoing crackdown on rights groups.

    Fowzan al-Harbi, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was sentenced to seven years in prison and a travel ban of equal duration by a court in the capital Riyadh after being convicted on a range of spurious charges related to his human rights work.

    “Fowzan al-Harbi has been ruthlessly targeted for daring to question the Saudi authorities’ human rights record,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “His sentence should be quashed immediately and he should walk free from the court. He should never have faced trial in the first place.”

    May 07, 2014

    Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to quash the outrageous sentencing today of Raif Badawi in connection with an online forum for public debate he set up and accusations that he insulted Islam.

    Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about US$266,631) by Jeddah’s Criminal Court.

    “The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is outrageous. He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    April 16, 2014

    Saudi Arabia must immediately release prominent human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was arrested following his fifth hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday and taken to al-Ha’ir prison without an explanation, said Amnesty International.

    Waleed Abu al-Khair was detained in connection with his human rights work. He is now facing charges almost identical ones he was convicted of by another criminal court back in October 2013.

    “Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Waleed Abu al-Khair’s detention is a worrying example of how Saudi Arabian authorities are abusing the justice system to silence peaceful dissent. Nobody should be jailed for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.”

    March 28, 2014

    President Barack Obama must break the US administration’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record by taking a strong public stand against the systematic violations in the Kingdom during his visit there this week, said Amnesty International.

    The US president is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia today. His visit coincides with a local campaign calling for an end to the driving ban for women in the Kingdom. Amnesty International is asking President Obama to express his dismay at the discrimination against women by appointing a woman as his official driver during the visit.

    “It is crucial that President Obama sends a strong message to the government of Saudi Arabia that its gross human rights violations and systematic discrimination are unacceptable. A failure to do so would undermine the human rights principles the USA purports to stand for,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

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