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Saudi demonstrators sentenced to months in prison, lashes

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 22 September 2012 - ANHRI condemns the ongoing suppression of free expression and violations committed by the Saudi regime. Over the last few days, the kingdom has been the site of several violations, including the sentencing of demonstrators and the arrest of others. ANHRI declares its support for Mohamed El Bagadi, an activist on hunger strike to protest the mistreatment of detainees in El-Haer prison.

Sentencing of demonstrators

The district court of the governorate of El-Qatif sentenced three demonstrators to imprisonment and lashing, for their participation in protests that took place in the eastern region of El-Qatif a year and a half ago. The court, which is administered by a religious institution under the supervision of the Ministry of interior, sentenced one of the activists to eight months' imprisonment and a hundred lashes, while the other two defendants were sentenced to seven months' imprisonment and a hundred lashes each.

The trial was riddled with violations of the right to a fair trial: the court banned the defense lawyers from attending the hearing and did not allow the defendants to contact their lawyers during the investigation. This violates even Saudi laws, such as Article no. 4 of the penal law, which stipulates that "every defendant has the right to appoint an attorney or a lawyer to defend him in the investigation and trial stages".

Hunger strike

Saudi political activist Mohamed El Bagadi, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence in the political prison El-Haer on charges of participating in the establishment of an unlicensed association (El-Hassem Association), began a hunger strike for the third time. He is protesting the mistreatment of detainees in El-Haer prison. El Bagadi has been on hunger strike in the past, in March and July 2012, due to the confiscation of all his personal belongings and his solitary confinement.

In a separate case, twelve demonstrators arrested for their participation in demonstrations 'in defense of the prophet' have begun a hunger strike.

ANHRI calls on regional and international organisations to press the Saudi regime to respect laws and treaties to which it is signatory. Moreover, the Saudi regime should be called upon to respect freedom of opinion and expression, allow for peaceful demonstrations and respect the right to a fair trial.

"The Saudi regime is fully responsible for any physical and psychological harm inflicted on these prisoners. ANHRI called for the immediate release of all prisoners of opinion and conscience in the country and for the dropping of all fabricated charges brought against them.

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