Target: Saudi Arabia Interior Ministry
Goal: Free human rights activists from unjust prison sentences, and stop systematically targeting and arresting other Saudi Arabian activists.
The fate of two prominent Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been on trial for over a year was recently decided. Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association were each sentenced to at least ten years in prison, as well as given lengthy travel bans. Charges against the two men included turning Saudis against the government, disloyalty to the Saudi king and “spreading chaos.” Al-Qahtani has described these accusations against Al-Hamid and himself as “nonsense,” claiming that the real reason the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry found them guilty was to quash an acitivist group that attempted to expose human rights violations in the country, and to send a message to other activists who might attempt to do the same.
The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, also called the ACRPA, was formed in 2009 in an attempt to report on invasions of human rights and to help free political prisoners. Real government involvement in the vilification of the organization came, however, in 2012 when ACRPA attempted to garner support against the interior minister, demanding that he be brought to trial for human rights violations. Al-Qahtani and Al-Hamid were subsequently arrested. However, according to spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, Tamara Al-Rifai, the two founders were not only within their human rights to speak out against the Saudi Arabian government, but they were well within their rights as stipulated by the “Arab Charter of Human Rights, to which Saudi Arabia has adhered.” Furthermore, she claims that the arrest of Al-Qahtani and Al-Hamid is not unique, but rather a part of a widespread strategy by Saudi Arabian officials to stamp out and silence activists. Like Al-Qahtani, she believes the accusations against the two are unfounded and merely an excuse that covers up the kingdom’s true agenda. According to a spokesperson for the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry, the main concern of the Interior Ministry is “security,” which the ministry seemingly claims to obtain through wrongful imprisonment.
Saudi Arabia’s attempts to silence its political and human rights activists must not be ignored. Protest the unjust sentencing of Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, and demand their release from prison by signing the petition below.
Dear Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz,
The imprisonment of two leading human rights activists, Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid is a blatant violation of their rights, as outlined by international human rights laws and the Arab Charter of Human Rights. Your attempts to silence activists by finding them guilty of questionable crimes will not go unnoticed.
Your claim that imprisoning Saudi Arabian activists promotes “security” clashes with basic human rights and the fears of those who would speak out against an oppressive government. I am calling now for the release of Al-Qahtani and Al-Hamid from their unjust sentences, and demand that you cease the systematic targeting and imprisonment of political and human rights activists in Saudi Arabia in order to promote a true sense of security within the kingdom.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: M. Glasgow via Fotopedia