11/05/2019, 11.50
SAUDI ARABIA
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Riyadh, repression and abuse under bin Salman

Human Rights Watch report says reforms have "a high cost" with arrest of dozens of dissidents. Many of these suffered torture in prison. On the state media, defamatory and slanderous campaigns against those arrested. Rights "can be challenged at will" by political leaders.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The rise to power in the last two years of the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (Mbs) is associated with "growing repression and abusive practices", which obscure changes in the social sphere and women's rights .

This is what the activists of Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in a report, talking about reforms "at a high cost" because they are accompanied by the arrest of dozens of dissidents, many of them tortured.

"What distinguishes these arrests - explain the 62-page report's curators - is the number and variety of people affected in a short period and the new repressive practices" adopted. In one year, 30 opponents and voices critical of the Saudi leadership in power ended up in jail.

However, the repression campaign had already begun in 2017 [year of the rise to power of Mbs] with dozens of arrests of activists, intellectuals and religious leaders. The wave of arrests was accompanied by defamatory and slanderous articles in the state media.

Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute Sunni monarchy, based on a Wahhabi fundamentalist view of Islam.

Over the past two years, the Crown Prince’s social reforms included granting women the right to drive cars and to attend sporting events in designated areas of stadiums.

However, the authorities have also cracked down on senior officials, business people, activists and critical voices, most notably in the Jamal Khashoggi affair, raising questions about the real extent of change.

"The rule of law - stresses HRW - remains fragile in Saudi Arabia and can be challenged at will by the country's political leaders". King Salman and crown prince bin Salman, the NGO adds, must promote "new reforms" so that Saudi citizens can "enjoy basic human rights". Riyadh is also accused of using surveillance technology to breach accounts and profiles of critical government or install spyware on phones.

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