Target: Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States
Goal: Immediately release two hunger-striking human rights activists from prison, where they have been subject to poor conditions and treatment
Imprisoned, held in solitary confinement, deprived of books and personal belongings–these are just a few of the human rights abuses faced by two Saudi Arabian activists, both of whom have embarked upon a hunger strike to protest their treatment in prison. Their health and safety are now in grave danger. Sign the petition and demand that Saudi Arabian authorities release these prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally.
Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid are the co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). The ACPRA, which monitors human rights violations and provides help to the families of people held without charge, is one of the only human rights organizations operating in Saudi Arabia, and its very existence is in jeopardy now that its founders are imprisoned. According to Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa, it is common for those who speak out against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia to face jail time.
The men were convicted of multiple crimes, including “disobeying the ruler, inciting disorder and setting up an unlicensed organization.” The ACPRA was ordered to be disbanded after the Court of Appeals upheld the rulings, which sentenced Mohammad al-Qahtani to ten years and Abdullah al-Hamid to eleven years in prison. While in jail, the men have been deprived of their books and personal belongings. Mohammad al-Qahtani was reportedly moved to solitary confinement after beginning his hunger strike, and their lawyers have been denied access to their clients, raising serious concerns for their safety.
These human rights violations are disgraceful, and the lack of transparency indicates that there might be even more violations that have been kept secret. It is therefore imperative that both Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid be released immediately.
Human rights are something to be celebrated and respected, not disregarded. This belief is what prompted Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid to co-found the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). Unfortunately, it was their fierce commitment to safeguarding human rights that made them victims of human rights violations themselves; they have been sentenced to ten and eleven years in prison, respectively, for such crimes as “disobeying the ruler, inciting disorder and setting up an unlicensed organization”. These men are prisoners of conscience and have done nothing to warrant imprisonment. I demand that they be released immediately.
The situation is especially dire because of the treatment al-Qahtani and al-Hamid have received in prison. Their books and personal belongings have been confiscated and they have been denied access to their legal representation. The men recently began a hunger strike to protest their treatment, further putting their safety and well-being at risk. Upon beginning his hunger strike, al-Qahtani was moved to solitary confinement.
Human rights organizations are few and far between in Saudi Arabia, and they are absolutely crucial for the safety and well-being of activists all across the country. The imprisonment of Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid has resulted not only in the loss of two passionate activists but also the loss of the organization they founded.
Saudi Arabia needs its human rights activists. Free Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid.
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Photo credit: Mosab al-Abdulkareem via Wikimedia Commons