Responding to the arrest of prominent human rights defender Mohammed al-Bajadi in Saudi Arabia today, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:
“This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
“Mohammed al-Bajadi is a tireless campaigner for human rights who, along with all those detained in the recent crackdown, has only been targeted because of his important work.
“Despite global outrage, authorities have again responded with even more repression against Saudi Arabia’s human rights community who have been repeatedly persecuted for their work.
“Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to promote his ‘reforms’ to the international public, while silencing anyone at home who dares to question his policies. It is time for this rank hypocrisy to stop.
“Once again, we call on the authorities to release these peaceful activists immediately and unconditionally. At the very least, they should reveal the detainees’ whereabouts and give them access to their families and lawyers.”
This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi ArabiaSamah Hadid
Mohammed al-Bajadi is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), which has been forcibly shut down by the authorities. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the counter-terror court in March 2015. Upon appeal, his sentence was reduced to eight years in prison, four of which were suspended, and a five-year travel ban. Mohammed al-Bajadi was released in April 2016 after he was made to sign scores of pledges, among them promises that he would stop his activism and refrain from communicating with media and foreign organizations.
ACPRA campaigned for the rights of prisoners in Saudi Arabia until its closure in March 2013. The organization was forcibly shut down by Saudi Arabian authorities and all of its founding members have been detained and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their work.
To date, it is believed that 10 human rights activists have been detained in the recent crackdown. Four have so far been released.
Many of the women’s rights defenders detained have campaigned against the long-standing ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. The ban is due to be lifted next month, with licenses being issued from 24 June.
Last week, Amnesty International identified six of those detained and called for their release following a chilling smear campaign orchestrated by the government to discredit them as “traitors”.
Those still in detention include Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Dr. Ibrahim al-Modeimigh and Mohammad al-Rabea. Two other men also reportedly remain in detention.
Activists detained in the recent crackdown, but released this week, include Dr. Aisha al-Manea, Dr. Hessa al-Sheikh, Dr. Madeha al-Ajroush and Walaa’ al-Shubbar.