Six years have passed since Saudi Arabia’s 2017 crackdown campaign, during which dozens of prominent individuals, including clerics, scholars, and human rights activists, were detained on speculative and politically motivated charges.
Without warning, a campaign of arrests was launched under the aegis of National Security with the stated goal of thwarting terrorism and extremism. Despite the regime’s efforts to tailor the charges to the anti-terrorism laws, this campaign’s lack of transparency and shoddy legal practices raised doubts in the eyes of the international community about the real reasons behind the arrests.
The crackdown campaign has succeeded and continues to succeed in consolidating power in the hands of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the country’s de facto ruler and current crown prince, who has acted without hesitation to commit all violations and crimes to muzzle dissenting voices and crush freedoms in the nation ever since he came to power.
Those arrested included Dr. Salman Al-Awda, the pilot Muhammad Musa Al-Sharif, Dr. Awad Al-Qarni, and Dr. Hassan Al-Maliki, Muhammad Al-Munajjid, Ghuram Al-Bishi, Issam Al-Zamil, Dr. Ali Al-Omari, academic Adel Banaama, and many others who are still behind bars for expressing their opinions on social media.
Although many of them have not yet received sentences, the Public Prosecution has demanded that they receive the harshest punishments possible, such as the death penalty, as in the case of Dr. Salman Al-Awda.
The campaign threatened not only the country’s human rights and freedoms but also the kingdom’s standing as a location for foreign investment, particularly in the wake of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which led many foreign investors to pull their operations out of the Kingdom and forced MBS to spend billions of dollars on prewashing campaigns to improve his international image.
In this regard, we call on the international community to exert pressure on the Saudi authorities to uphold international human rights norms, such as ensuring that all detainees receive fair trials and have access to legal counsel.
We also call on the international community to stop cooperating with the Saudi regime until it offers concrete and serious guarantees to improve the human rights situation and to keep closely monitoring the situation and holding the Saudi government accountable for any human rights violations.