HEADLINES

KSA: Imprisoned Activist Earns Canadian Human Rights Award

Originally published (February 20, 2017). Human Rights Watch.

Waleed Abu al-Khair, prominent lawyer and human rights activist, speaks to Human Rights Watch over Skype from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on September 19, 2013. © 2013 Human Rights Watch Waleed Abu al-Khair, prominent lawyer and human rights activist, speaks to Human Rights Watch over Skype from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on September 19, 2013. © 2013 Human Rights Watch.

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s selection of the imprisoned Saudi human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair for its 2016 Human Rights Award highlights Saudi Arabia’s brutal repression of peaceful activists and dissidents, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Abu al-Khair, who was sentenced in 2014 to 15 years in prison for his peaceful human rights advocacy, so that he can attend the award ceremony in Toronto on February 22, 2017.

Saudi courts have convicted at least 20 prominent peaceful activists and dissidents since 2011. Many, like Abu al-Khair, have faced sentences as long as 10 or 15 years on broad, catch-all charges – such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” or “participating in protests” – that do not constitute recognizable crimes.

Every day Waleed Abu al-Khair spends in prison compounds the injustice Saudi Arabia has imposed on him and his family,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Continued recognition of Abu al-Khair’s human rights work demonstrates that Saudi Arabia’s repression of peaceful activists and dissidents generates wide notice and criticism.

Saudi human rights activists gather outside the Criminal Court of Riyadh following a hearing in the trial of fellow activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani. Sulaiman al-Rashoodi (second from right), Mohammed al-Qahtani (third from right), Waleed Abu al-Khair (center, fourth from right) and Abdullah al-Hamid (fifth from right) © 2013 Private

Saudi human rights activists gather outside the Criminal Court of Riyadh following a hearing in the trial of fellow activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani. Sulaiman al-Rashoodi (second from right), Mohammed al-Qahtani (third from right), Waleed Abu al-Khair (center, fourth from right) and Abdullah al-Hamid (fifth from right). Photo: © 2013 Private.

Abu al-Khair has been one of Saudi Arabia’s leading human rights advocates for years. In July 2014, the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal, convicted him on a number of broad and vaguely worded charges, including for comments to news outlets and on Twitter criticizing Saudi human rights violations. In addition to sentencing him to prison, the court banned him from traveling abroad for another 15 years and fined him 200,000 Saudi riyals (US $53,000).

Human Rights Watch - Please donate today to protect human rights for all.Abu al-Khair played no active part in his trial. He refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court or to defend himself. He also refused to sign a copy of the trial judgment or to appeal either his conviction or sentence. In January 2015, an appeals tribunal within the SCC overturned part of the earlier ruling following a prosecution appeal of the court’s suspension of five years of his term, and ruled instead that Abu al-Khair should serve all 15 years in prison.

Authorities have shuffled Abu al-Khair among four prisons without explanation since his arrest on April 15, 2014, including stints in al-Ha’ir Prison, south of Riyadh; al-Malaz Prison, in Riyadh; Buraiman Prison, in Jeddah; and al-Dhahban Prison, north of Jeddah. Since December 2015, Abu al-Khair has been held in al-Dhahban Prison.

Abu al-Khair’s first child, Jude, was born in June 2014, following his arrest.

In addition to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 2016 Human Rights Award, Abu al-Khair received the prestigious Olof Palme Prize in 2012, and the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in 2015, in recognition of his human rights work.

Saudi authorities regularly pursue charges against human rights activists based on their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, in violation of international human rights obligations.

Essam Koshak © Private

Essam Koshak. Photo: © Private.

Other Saudi activists and dissidents currently serving long prison terms based solely on their peaceful activism include Mohammed al-QahtaniAbdullah al-HamidFadhil al-ManasifSulaiman al-RashoodiAbdulkareem al-KhodrFowzan al-Harbi, Raif Badawi, Saleh al-Ashwan, Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Zuhair Kutbi, Alaa Brinji, and Nadhir al-Majed.

Saudi authorities arrested activists Issa al-Nukheifi and Essam Koshak in December 2016 and January 2017 respectively, and they may face trial. Others, including Abdulaziz al-Shubaily and Issa al-Hamid, are free while appealing long sentences the SCC handed down in 2016. Mohammed al-Oteibi and Abdullah Attawi are currently on trial for forming a human rights organization in 2013.

Saudi Arabia repeatedly demonstrates its complete intolerance toward citizens who speak out for human rights and reform,” Whitson said.  [01]

Click Picture for a Popular Article

  • Iraqi firefighters and civilians carry bodies of victims killed in a car bomb at a commercial area in Karrada neighbourhood, Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, July 3, 2016
  • ery same government who deliberately allowed this occupation to take place last fall. Regardless of what is happening with a possible injunction application, I urge every person to call the Premier’s office in the morning, telling her she has to get her administration working overtime to get rid of tent city and under no circumstances to move this horror story a block away into Mt. Edwards where we’ll then have a PERMANENT tent city indoors, with all the same shit going on every day and night!
  • Journalist Deniz Yücel, along with four others, have been jailed pending trial on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organisation and inciting the public to violence.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Syrian refugees to Canada late Thursday night at Pearson International airport
  • Faces of the women who had their lives cut short by Pickton.
  • UNICEF estimates nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured in the past four months in the country, the poorest in the Middle East. 13 Yemeni teaching staff and four children were killed by a Saudi air strike on August 20. Two days before, coalition bombing in the Amran province took the lives of 17 civilians, injuring 20 more. UNICEF condemned what it called the “senseless bloodshed.” A Red Cross spokeswoman said the violence in Ta’iz, in southern Yemen, in just one day on August 21 left 80 people dead.
  • Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985.
  • And now - a country with more than 10,000 people killed in the ensuing violence, over 10,000 more died of starvation under the blockade of humanitarian aid and supplies - the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen is reduced to the brink of famine.
  • Documentary: Part One - A Year In Space With Scott Kelly
  • Paramedics rush to the scene at the capital of Faso terrorist attack by Al-Qiada on January 15, 2016. The attack comes less than two months after a terrorist attack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Malian capital Bamako on November 20 in which 20 people died including 14 foreigners.
  • Mona Relief Delivering Lifesaving Food, clothing, blankets and medicine to villages dying under the siege of Saudi War on Yemen. (Photo: Mona Relief) alistairreignblog.com
  • Mona Relief Charity on Go Fund Me makes it easy and safe to donate. No amount is too small, or too large.
  • Souhayla, a 16-year-old girl who escaped the Islamic State after three years of captivity, at her uncle’s home in Shariya Camp, Iraq. Credit Alex Potter for The New York Times

Click Picture for a Popular Cartoon

  • Take Our Poll: Come on in and tell us who haunted your nightmares! Which vampire had the most ferocious fangs?
  • Caption this winner sept 1
  • Victoria's 'Homeless' Drug Addicts
  • Nicki 'Minnie' Minaj
  • In episode two he addresses the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the humanitarian catastrophe in the impoverished Republic of Yemen. Minhaj warns America to reconsider their attitude toward Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • GOP Caption winner first place on AlistairReignBlog.com
  • The moment Bruce Jenner realized he was a woman
  • al-Batshit-Assad
  • Donald Trump for President
  • Paul Ryan Retires
  • Comic Strip: Terror News with Chuck. (Alistair Reign News Blog - Comic Strips: www.AlistairReignBlog.com).
  • The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1
  • I hate Monday

Start a Conversation or Write a Caption This joke.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.