Early this year, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced political detainee Malik Al-Dawish to 27 years in prison. This came nearly a year after an unfair trial that followed his arrest for requesting the disclosure of his father Sheikh Suleiman Al-Dawish’s fate after he had been forcibly abducted since 2016.
The court’s order embodies the Saudi collective punishment policy against political dissidents and their families in an attempt to break their will.
Malik Al-Dawish, the son of imprisoned preacher Suleiman Al-Dawish, was arrested by the Saudi security services in July 2022. His arrest came just a few days before US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, as message from the Saudi regime that it will continue to violate human rights.
He was detained in mysterious circumstances to join his father and brother, who were arrested and forcibly disappeared without being brought before court.
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; he has forcibly disappeared.
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.
Earlier this week, 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.
Malek’s arrest 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.