Saudi Arabia detains human rights activist again

The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately release a detained human rights activist if he is being held over his peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.Fadhel Maki al-Manasif, 26, was arrested on 2 October near the town of Safwa in the Eastern Province. He has had no access to a lawyer or been allowed visits from his family. Like many held in custody by the Saudi Arabian authorities, he is at risk of torture and other human rights violations. “The Saudi Arabian authorities seem determined to stamp out any form of dissent in the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa“Details of any charges Fadhel Maki al-Manasif faces must be disclosed. If he has been detained simply for his peaceful human rights work, he should be released immediately and unconditionally,” she said.According to sources in Saudi Arabia, Fadhel Maki al-Manasif has been vocal in raising human rights concerns about the treatment of members of Saudi Arabia’s Sh’ia minority.He has monitored cases of discrimination against them and the detention of individuals from the Shi’a minority without charge or trial for years and written to the authorities about their cases. Amnesty International believes he may be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.Fadhel Maki al-Manasif is currently being held at the General Intelligence Prison in the Eastern Province’s capital Dammam. He was allowed to make a short phone call to his family once on 10 October to inform them of his place of detention but has since not had any access to the outside world.He was previously arrested in May this year in connection with protests in the province, but was released in August after allegedly signing a pledge that he will not participate in protests again.Critics of the Saudi Arabian government face gross human rights violations. They are often held incommunicado without charge, sometimes in solitary confinement, denied access to lawyers or the courts to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. Torture or other ill-treatment are frequently used to extract “confessions” from detainees, to punish them for refusing to “repent”, or to force them to make undertakings not to criticize the government. Incommunicado detention in Saudi Arabia often lasts until a “confession” is obtained, which can take months or years.