Aida Al-Ghamdi: An Example of Saudi Collective Punishment Policy

In March 2018, the Saudi security forces arrested with excessive force the elderly Saudi woman, Aida Al-Ghamdi, the mother of the political activist Abdullah Al-Ghamdi who fled the Kingdom several years ago for fear of political prosecution over his human rights and political activism.

More than four years ago, the political activist Abdullah Al-Ghamdi – who is currently self-exiled in the United Kingdom – declared the arrest of his 60-year-old mother, Aida, and two brothers, Sultan and Adel, as part of the Saudi authorities’ collective punishment policy against political and human rights activists’ families.

In April 2018, Sultan was released and forced to publish a video attacking his brother over his political activism. However, Aida and Adel were kept in jail until today amid very difficult detention conditions.

Aida and Adel al-Ghamdi were subjected to several violations of their rights, including denial of family and lawyer access, denial of essential healthcare, and solitary confinement.

Aida suffered various forms of torture, including a severe beating in front of her son Adel, who was beaten as well, and flogging with a heavy rope.

According to Abdullah al-Ghamdi, Aida’s body bears marks of cigarette burns.

This came as part of the Saudi attempts to pressure Abdullah to put an end to his political activism.

Abdullah pointed out that his mother’s health condition was critically deteriorated as she already suffers diabetes, high blood pressure, and frequent abdominal pains.

Aida and Adel were allowed to receive family visits after three months of arbitrary detention, during which they were subjected to a massive smear campaign, accusing them of plotting to destabilise the kingdom, although they were neither charged nor brought before trial.

Sultan, who was earlier released, has been placed under house arrest at his home in Dammam, with a GPS tracker attached to his leg. He is prohibited from leaving the governorate without prior permission, although no charges have been brought against him.

The family of the Saudi political activist Abdullah Al-Ghamdi has been subjected to a systematic suppression and revenge campaign.

Together for Justice calls on the international human rights organisations and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to urgently intervene for the immediate release of Aida Al-Ghamdi and her son Adel, to lift the house arrest imposed on Sultan, and to allow them to enjoy their normal life and rights guaranteed by international human rights laws and conventions.

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