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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 19, 2015

    The Saudi Arabian authorities today continued their cynical use of a repressive and overly vague counter-terrorism law to purge the Kingdom’s small and embattled civil society by convicting the human rights defender Abdulkareem al-Khoder and imprisoning him for 10 years, Amnesty International said.

    Abdulkareem al-Khoder, a co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was jailed in June 2013 for eight years after a trial before a criminal court. His sentence was overturned last year but he remained arbitrarily detained in prison. His latest conviction was handed down by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) under a counter-terrorism law that took effect in February 2014.

    “By using abusive counter-terrorism legislation and a deeply deficient specialized court to intimidate and lock up human rights defenders, Saudi Arabia is sending a chilling message that anyone who speaks out will be purged,” said James Lynch, Acting Deputy Program Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    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.

    October 16, 2015

    There are rising fears about the impending executions of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr and two other young Shi’a activists in Saudi Arabia who were arrested as juveniles after participating in anti-government rallies, Amnesty International said today after learning that they had been moved to solitary confinement.

    The organization has been able to confirm that Ali al-Nimr, Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher were moved to solitary confinement in al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh on 5 October. They were arrested at different times in 2012, when they were all under the age of 18, and sentenced to death in 2014. All three death sentences were upheld by Saudi Arabia’s appeal court and the Supreme Court earlier this year.

    Pro-government media reports that Ali al-Nimr could face crucifixion after his beheading have sparked a global outcry. On 14 October, his mother appealed to US President Barack Obama to step in to save her son.

    September 30, 2015

    The King of Saudi Arabia must refuse to ratify the outrageous death sentence against juvenile offender, Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization called on the authorities to quash Ali al-Nimr’s death sentence, which followed a grossly unfair trial and was based on “confessions” Ali al-Nimr says were extracted under torture. It also urged the authorities to immediately impose an official moratorium on all executions and implement significant reforms in the country’s criminal justice system.

    Ali al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), a special security and counter-terror court, on 27 May 2014. His death sentence was upheld both by the appeal division of the SCC and by the Supreme Court sometime earlier this year, without his or his lawyer’s knowledge. He could be executed as soon as the King ratifies the sentence.

    August 24, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Tuesday 25 August 2015

    • Death sentences imposed after unfair trials lacking basic safeguards
    • At least 102 executed in first six months of 2015 compared to 90 in all of 2014
    • Average of one person executed every two days, most by beheading
    • Almost half of executions in recent years are for non-lethal crimes
    • At least 2,208 people executed between January 1985 and June 2015
    • Nearly half of those executed since 1985 were foreign nationals
    • Juvenile offenders, people with mental disabilities among those executed

    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.

    June 11, 2015

    Each of the remaining 950 lashes the Saudi Arabian authorities plan to inflict upon dissident blogger Raif Badawi will bludgeon freedom of expression and make a mockery of the country’s international human rights obligations, Amnesty International warned amid fears his public flogging could resume as soon as tomorrow.

    These fears have been heightened after Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced in the media on 6 June it had upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Raif Badawi, with no room to appeal the ruling.

    June 07, 2015

    The decision by the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia to uphold the sentence of the blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is a dark day for freedom of expression in the Kingdom, Amnesty International said.

    “It is abhorrent that this cruel and unjust sentence has been upheld. Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “By failing to overturn the sentence Saudi Arabian authorities today have displayed a callous disregard to justice and to the tens of thousands of voices around the world calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Now that his sentence is final and cannot be revoked, his public flogging might start as soon as Friday and he will unjustly serve the remaining of his sentence. The court’s decision casts a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record.”

    May 29, 2015

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must take immediate steps to protect the country’s Shi’a Muslim minority from sectarian violence and put an end to decades of systematic discrimination, Amnesty International said today after the second deadly attack on a Shi’a mosque in the past week.

    Today’s attack in al-Dammam in the country’s Eastern Province left at least three people dead and an unknown number injured during Friday prayers. It comes exactly one week after 22 people were killed in an attack on another Shi’a mosque in nearby Qudaih on 22 May.

    According to Saudi Arabian state TV the armed group calling itself Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

    “Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim community have been subjected to cruel attacks during Friday prayers for the second week in a row. There can be absolutely no justification for attacking worshippers in a mosque,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    May 28, 2015

    Saudi Arabia today has carried out its 90th execution so far this year, equaling the number of people executed in the Kingdom during the whole of 2014, said Amnesty International.

    The death toll is one of the highest recorded by the organization during the same period for more than three decades and marks an unprecedented spike in executions for a country already ranked among the most prolific executioners in the world.  

    “With the year yet to pass its midpoint, the Gulf Kingdom has raced towards this shocking toll at an unprecedented rate. This alarming surge in executions surpasses even the country’s own previous dreadful records,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2015

    The Honourable Rob Nicholson
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
     

    May 28, 2015

    Dear Minister Nicholson,

    Over the past several months, Amnesty International has – in letters to the government and in comments in the media – highlighted our serious concerns about the human rights implications of the $15 billion deal reached between London, Ontario-based General Dynamics and the Saudi Arabian government for the sale of potentially hundreds of armored vehicles over the next decade.

    The Canadian government, as you know, has an obligation to carry out a human rights assessment of the deal to ensure that, among other things, “there is no reasonable risk that the good might be used against the civilian population.”  Given the very serious and widespread human rights violations regularly committed by Saudi officials, and given the nature of and potential uses of the vehicles that are the subject of this lucrative deal, a thorough and transparent human rights assessment is urgently required. 

    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.

    May 06, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST  7 May 2015

    One year after Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail, Amnesty International has joined with his wife to renew appeals for his immediate and unconditional release.  

    “It is truly tragic that a whole year has passed since Raif Badawi received this cruel and unjust sentence. He is clearly being punished for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “It is not enough for the Saudi Arabian authorities to suspend the public floggings in bid to escape international criticism and sweep Raif Badawi’s case under the carpet. As long as the sentence stands he remains unjustly imprisoned and at risk of flogging, casting a further stain on Saudi Arabia’s already bleak human rights record. It is high time his conviction is quashed and for the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.”

    May 01, 2015

    Nearly 100 days after King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud came to power in Saudi Arabia prospects for human rights progress in the Kingdom remain grim, said Amnesty International, as widespread violations continue unabated.  

    At home, scores of prisoners of conscience, imprisoned purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly, have remained behind bars, and unfair trials of human rights activists accused of “terrorism” have continued. Within the new King’s first 100 days in power Saudi Arabia has led a military campaign in Yemen involving aerial bombardments in which hundreds of civilians have been killed, including in attacks that raise concerns that international humanitarian law may have been flouted.

    “Any hopes that the arrival of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud might herald an improvement in human rights in Saudi Arabia have been crushed,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of Middle East and North Africa Programme.

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