This week the Specialized Criminal Court issued severe prison sentences against activists from Qatif, including the activist Israa Al-Ghomgham, in a new violation of human rights, brutal and repressive practices against opponents, activists, and intellectuals.
Israa Al-Ghomgham is a Saudi activist from the town of Al-Shweika in Al-Qatif, who was very active following the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011. She only called for a decent life for the Saudi citizen where they can enjoy free social and political participation in their country.
To the Saudi regime, the dreams of Al-Ghomgham were punishable crimes for which she got stripped of her freedom as well as being threatened of execution, but after years of unfair trial the judge decided that Israa should be imprisoned for 8 years as a punishment for having an opinion.
The demand for the execution of al-Ghomgham was the first of its kind, as the prosecution had never demanded the execution of a woman simply for exercising their right to peacefully criticize the practices of the regime.
Although the death penalty in itself is a very horrible thing, especially in countries where the judiciary is independent, executing women for their opinions is catastrophic.
Despite abolishing the execution against Al-Ghomgham, who has been detained since December 2015, her detention is purely a retaliatory ruling against Israa for her activism to preserve the dignity of the citizen, especially since her activist husband Musa Al-Hashem has been imprisoned for 17 years.
Al-Hashem and his wife Al-Ghomgham are among large number activists who were arrested for their participation in the “Dignity Uprising” that took place in Al-Qatif between 2011 to 2016.
The Public Prosecution had demanded the issuance of severe penalties against those accused for having committed a heinous crime -namely expressing their opinions- which reflects the revengeful type of rulings against activists.
The trial of Israa and other activists did not begin until August 2018, after long years of detention during which they experienced the most horrific violations and their trial lacked justice.
They were denied legal representation or being enabled to defend themselves, as well as the lack of any evidence against them except the allegations of the security apparatus and the prosecutions. They have also been denied the right to attend their court hearings.
A 10-year prison sentence was issued against the activist Ali Oweisheer, and the initial verdict against the detainee Ahmed Al-Matroud was increased to 15 years in prison, and Khaled Al-Ghanem was 13 years in prison, while details of the ruling issued against the activist Mujtaba Al-Zein were not disclosed.
These rulings came at a time when the Saudi regime is speaking about fixing its relations with the international community after the regime has committed many brutal violations of human rights in violation of international laws.
Therefore, it is necessary for the international community to intervene immediately to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to end these violations at once and for all.