Eight years of enforced disappearance and collective punishment: Where is Sheikh Suleiman Al-Dowaish?

Nearly eight years have passed since the arrest and enforced disappearance of the Saudi preacher and reformist academic, Suleiman Al-Dowaish, amid fears of his death after being subjected to brutal and severe torture during his detention.

In April 2016, Sulaiman al-Dowaish was arrested after posting tweets in which he was seen as criticising King Salman for giving his son Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), then Deputy Crown Prince, too many powers without accountability.  Nothing has been heard of him, his health status, or his whereabouts since then.

According to former detainees’ testimonies, Sulaiman al-Dowaish was held in the basement of a royal palace in Riyadh run personally by MBS, where he was tortured and severely beaten on several occasions. His fate and whereabouts have remained unknown until today.

In October 2021, his younger son, Abdulrahman, was arrested for contacting the Public Prosecution to ask about his father’s father. Since then, no information has been released about him or his whereabouts. His other son was later arrested, to be followed recently by Malek.

In this regard, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) pointed to the high-risk bid of Biden’s Middle East tour, saying that Saudi officers are unlikely to make any human-rights concessions amid an escalated crackdown campaign.

The most up-to-date is Malek al-Dowaish, the son of a Muslim cleric with hyperlinks to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted in 2017 and later imprisoned on treason allegations.

Prior to his arrest, Malek advised The Wall Street Journal the final year that his father, Suleiman, was imprisoned in 2016 in a palace dungeon and crushed on the orders of Prince Mohammed after tweeting a sermon that appeared to insult him.

Malek told WSJ that he felt he had nothing to lose by talking out from inside Saudi Arabia. He mentioned two of his brothers have been arrested following his father’s disappearance.

In January, Malek mentioned he was questioned and threatened by state safety over his contact with a Journal reporter.

Earlier last year, the Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Malek for 27 years after an unfair trial for looking for his father, Sheikh Suleiman Al-Dowaish, who has been forcibly disappearing since 2016.

Malek’s prison sentence confirms that there are no signs of improving the human rights situation in the Kingdom.

In this regard, we call on the international community to take serious positions towards the Saudi regime and to put an end to its increasing violations.

We further call for an urgent international investigation into the torture allegations of dozens of political detainees, to examine their detention conditions, to press for the release of the forcibly disappeared persons, and to ensure a fair trial for all detainees.

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