09/20/2017, 17.24

Riyadh arrests two human rights activists

The two were waiting for an appeal against prior convictions. Human rights group say the authorities want to crush the country’s human rights movement. Since the start of the month, they have rounded up 30 clerics and scholars.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi police arrested two human rights campaigners, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily and Issa al-Hamid, both founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), this according to Amnesty International.

The latter accuses the kingdom’s rulers of crushing the country’s human rights movement.

The two men were awaiting appeals of prison sentences handed down against them last year.

Shubaily was sentenced to an eight-year prison term earlier this year for what authorities described as a threat to public order. Other charges include providing information to foreign organisations about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

Hamid was tried in April 2016 by Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) a secretive counter-terror court that convicts human rights defenders and other peaceful dissidents to lengthy prison terms.

The court convicted him on a long list of charges including “inciting [people] to breach public order”, “insulting the judiciary”, and publishing statements and articles on various issues, including the right to protest and human rights violations by the Interior Ministry.

So far, Saudi Authorities have not yet released a statement on the matter or confirmed the arrests.

“This is a dark time for freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia,” said Samah Hadid, director of campaigns for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.

“These two arrests have confirmed our fears that the new leadership under Mohammed bin Salman is determined to crush the Kingdom’s human rights movement,” she added.

ACPRA was founded in 2009, then shut down in 2013. All 11 founding members have since been jailed.

Saudi authorities have rounded up some 30 clerics, intellectuals and academics this month, more than 20 in the last week alone, in what Human Rights Watch has described as “a coordinated crackdown on dissent”.

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