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Saudi Arabia: Release lawyer and human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair

    Monday, April 13, 2015 - 12:46

    Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Dr Mohammad al-Qahtani, ACPRA © private

    “I was not jailed because I represented myself, but because I defended the oppressed in my country. Don’t forget me. But most importantly do not forget those I was defending.”

    Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights defender and lawyer for imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, is currently serving a 15 year sentence in addition to a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately $67,000 CAD) and a 15-year travel ban. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his peaceful human rights work.

    In 2008, Waleed Abu al-Khair founded  the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, one of the few local NGOs documenting human rights violations in the country.  In addition to Raif Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations, despite being told by the government to stop representing specific defendants, namely activists and reformists.

    By 2012 he had been banned from travelling abroad, harassed, repeatedly arrested, and eventually sentenced to 3 months for offending the Saudi judiciary and harming the image of the state. Despite this, he was well known on social media for his powerful tweets advocating peaceful change and human rights.

    In July 2014, Waleed Abu al-Khair became the first human rights defender to be sentenced under Saudi Arabia’s harsh new anti-terrorism laws. A special security and counter-terror court  found him guilty of “disobeying the ruler and seeking to remove his legitimacy”, “insulting the judiciary and questioning the integrity of judges”, “setting up an unlicensed organization”, “harming the reputation of the state by communicating with international organizations” and “preparing, storing and sending information that harms public order”.

    Waleed Abu al-Khair has complained of torture and other ill-treatment in prison, including beatings, solitary confinement and sleep deprivation. He also suffers from diabetes, and has not been provided with either the special diet or adequate medical treatment he requires.

    TAKE ACTION

    Please write letters to Saudi authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Waleed Abu al-Khair on the grounds that he is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Further urge the authorities to:

    • Quash his conviction and prison sentence and drop all charges against him.
    • Ensure that Waleed Abu al-Khair is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and provided with any medical attention he may require.
    • Stop the crackdown on activists and their use of social media.

    WRITE TO:

    His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
    Office of His Majesty the King
    Royal Court, Riyadh
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    Fax via Ministry of the Interior: +966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
    Social Media: @KingSalman
    Salutation: Your Majesty

    Please note: The King can order the pardon and release of Waleed Abu al-Khair at any time.

    His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
    Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior
    Ministry of the Interior
    P.O. Box 2933
    Airport Road
    Riyadh 11134
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    Fax: +966 11 403 3125 (Riyadh)
    Social media: Send messages through their Facebook page
    Salutation: Your Royal Highness

    His Royal Highness Prince Saud al-Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Postal Code: 55937
    Riyadh 11544
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    Fax: +966 11 403 0645 / +966 11 403 0159
    Email via website form: www.mofa.gov.sa
    Social media: Send messages through their Facebook page and/or twitter @KSAMOFA (the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs account)
    Salutation: Your Royal Highness

    WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO:

    Express solidarity on social media by tweeting messages to Waleed Abu al-Khair’s Twitter account:
    @WaleedAbualkhair (this account has been managed by his friends since his arrest)

    Hashtags: #Waleed_Abualkhair #FreeWaleed #Saudi #detaineesinKSA #FreeRaif