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Jailed Saudi Human Right Activists and Their Defense Team Observe A Hunger Strike

We are deeply saddened by the Ministry of Interior’ flagrant violations and blatant abuses of the law (the Criminal Procedure Code), which is a binding law for the Ministry and has been promulgated to protect basic human rights for all prisoners. The law clearly states the following:

1.      The Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall conduct its investigation and prosecution in accordance with its Law and the implementing regulations thereof (Article 14).

2.      An arrested person shall not be subjected to any bodily or moral harm.  Similarly, he shall not be subjected to any torture or degrading treatment (Article 2).

3.      Any accused person shall have the right to seek the assistance of a lawyer or a representative to defend him during the investigation and trial stages (Article 4). During the investigation, the accused shall have the right to seek the assistance of a representative or an attorney (Article 64).

4.      Any such person shall be treated decently and shall not be subjected to any bodily or moral harm (Article 35).

5.       He shall also be advised of the reasons of his detention and shall be entitled to communicate with any person of his choice to inform him of his arrest (Article 35). When the accused appears for the first time for an investigation, the Investigator shall take down all his personal information and shall inform him of the offense of which he is charged (Article 101).

6.       In all cases, the Investigator shall order that the accused may not communicate with any other prisoner or detainee, and that he not be visited by anyone for a period not exceeding sixty days if the interest of the investigation so requires, without prejudice to the right of the accused to communicate with his representative or attorney (Article 119).

7.      In cases that require detention for a longer period, the matter shall be referred to the Director of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution to issue an order that the arrest be extended for a period or successive periods none of which shall exceed thirty days and their aggregate shall not exceed six months from the date of arrest of the accused (Article 114).

8.      Thereafter, the accused shall be directly transferred to the competent court, or be released (Article 114).

9.      Visitation rights by attorneys, families, and friends.

Unfortunately, all these articles are violated by the Ministry of Interior with its deliberate and on-going arrests of human-right activists (from the Constitutional Reform and Civic Society in Saudi Arabia), those who are now known as the “Jeddah’s Detainees.” The Ministry must not only itself abide by the law but also uphold rules of laws that were issued by the Interior Ministry itself which is continuously bragging about upholding laws of the land and rhetorically protecting citizens’ rights.

We astonishingly question:

What kind of  law that allows the arrests of human right advocates in solitary confinements for more than two years, with no visitation rights by their friends and with no rights for an attorney? Moreover, some of the detainees were threaten to throw their sons and daughters in jail if they don’t stop demanding the upholding of the law.

We are deeply hurt to see such a deterioration in human rights in our beloved country.

All these violations and even more troubling abuses have forced the detainees to observe a hunger strike starting Thursday March 19, 2009.

The Detainees who will be participating in the hunger strike:

1.      Attorney Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi, former judge and human-right advocate, detained in February 2, 2007.

2.      Attorney Dr. Mousa Mohammed Al-Qarni, former university professor and human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

3.      Professor Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Shomairy, former professor of education and human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

4.      Saifaldeen Faisal Al-Sherif, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

5.      Fahd Alskaree Al-Qurashi, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

6.      Abdulrahman Bin Sadiq, Human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

7.      Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Hashemi, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

8.      Ali Khosifan Al-Qarni, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.

We find it incumbent upon us to defend their rights, thus we announced our solidarity with them and we will participate in the planned hunger strike. Furthermore, we will propagate the case for each and everyone of them and we will publish their stories and how they are threatened before the arrest unless they stop their human-right activities. For instance, in a famous meeting that took place in the Interior Minister’s office where Prince Naif (the Interior Minister) threatened Dr. Mousa Al-Qarni that he would throw him in prison for many years, the meeting then brook out and Dr. Al-Qarni angrily left to be arrested only a few weeks later.

Later on, we will publish all the details because we had exerted all means and exhausted all possible venues by writing several petitions to higher authority with minimal responses, unfortunately.

We are strong believers that the laws of the land forbid such flagrant human-right abuses, and if the Ministry of Interior has such convincing evidence and a strong legal case against the accused activists, then try these indicted men in a court of law with public proceedings. However, the Ministry has not dared to hold public trails, instead attorney Esam Basrawi and  Dr. Abdulaziz Suliman Al-Khereiji (the two men who were arrested with the same aforementioned group of activists) were released from their solitary confinements for more than two years with no official indictments. This glaring evidence clearly indicates that arrested activists are innocent from any alleged charges and they neither violated any laws nor committed any wrong doings; in fact to the contrary, they insist in preserving the four principles that govern our society, namely: our faith, national unity, the royal family, and a peaceful civic society.

 In accordance with these agreed upon principles, we have every right to defend our national interests and to ensure that basic human rights are maintained and respected. We also have the rights to express publicly our pain, agony, and suffering because if we can freely announced our innermost personal sentiments then we can claim that we have taken the first step toward solving challenges that are confronting our country. For sure, the first step must start with maintaining the rule of  laws which necessary means to free these activists who have been illegally imprisoned or let them have the chance to appear in public and fair trails. Is this too much to ask for a citizen of this country?

According to the Saudi Criminal Procedure Code, these human-right advocates are illegitimate prisoners because they have not only been arbitrarily arrested with no legal bases but they have also spent in their solitary confinements a lot longer than the time permitted under the statute for precautionary arrests. Despite all the difficulties they are facing in their degrading solitary confinements and infuriating treatments, they demonstrate their at most patience to remind us of their rights which are granted by rules of laws. Furthermore, they had decided early on to persevere and stay the course of the human-right campaign the had started long time ago, and in their strive they take pains and agonies as blessings and bounties because they have chosen the road of patience as a venue that leads to future dignity for all. As for us, we also have a choice to make, either we choose to support their plights or we choose to forget their cause and let them languish on their prison cells. If we choose the latter, however, we are committing a grave mistake because at the same time we are rendering negative judgments on ourselves, the future of our children and the rules of laws which would be completely thrown into oblivion.

The taming of sprits comes through the taming of body, these jailed activists have already tamed both by struggling and striving to show us hope, a hope that comes from the existence of individuals who are willing to sacrifice their most voluble things, their freedom and liberty, to defend higher principles. These advocates refused repeatedly several offers of freedom contingent on their apologies, signing any self-incrementing statements and renouncing their human-right activities; consequently they have become free in their own prison cells.

What left for us is to pay them their dues.

The Defense Team for jailed human-right advocates, the “Jeddah’s detainees”:

1.      Waleed Sami Abu Alkhair, writer and activist.

2.      Hashim Abdullah Al-Refai, writer and activist.

3.      Abdulmohsin Ali Al-Ayashi, human-right activist.