Salman Al-Awda: An Ongoing Tragedy of Four Years of Oppression Behind Bars

September 09, 2017, was the date in which the Saudi Sheikh and preacher Salman Al-Awda lost his freedom as a result of exercising his most basic rights and expressing his personal opinion on Twitter.

Four years have passed, while Sheikh Salman Al-Awda remains behind bars in solitary confinement, with no communication with anyone, under inhumane conditions, with humiliation and degrading treatment, as well as medical negligence which has lead to losing half of his hearing and sight, in addition to an unfair trial, which lacks all legal standards of a fair trial, with no legal representation.

Sheikh Salman Al-Awda was arrested hours after he posted a tweet on his social media account, in which he called for reconciliation with Qatar after announcing the severing of diplomatic and commercial relations and imposing a siege on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

The tweet for which he is being tried was published on September 8, 2017, stated: “Oh God, unite their hearts for the good of their people.” This is the tweet that cost Al-Awda years of torture, unfair detention, pressure and denial of medical treatment.

In previous statements, Abdullah Al-Awda, the son of Sheikh Salman Al-Awda, a researcher residing in the United States of America, announced that the harm that his father has been subjected to since his arrest has not stopped till now, noting that his father is subjected to a systematic policy of slow killing in an isolated cell, adding that his father has only called for reconciliation and giving priority to the interests of peoples.

The arrest of aA-Awda came as part of a wide campaign of arrests launched by the security forces against scholars, activists, preachers, intellectuals, businessmen and a number of members of the royal family, either on the pretext of fighting corruption or on charges of “terrorism and conspiracy against the state.”

Salman Al-Awda does not only suffer from the double standards of the Saudi regime, which reconciled with Qatar and yet is still holding him, but he suffers from deliberate persecution aimed at eliminating him personally, as the Saudi prosecution asked the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, to execute Salman Al-Awda and a number of other prisoners of conscience, accused of “disobeying the rulers”, requested this despite the fact that Salman Al-Awda is known for their moderation, rejection of violence, constant desire for the stability of the country and the pursuit of a better life for citizens.

The Islamic preacher faces 37 charges, including inciting society -while he only called for change in the Saudi government, joining international unions and associations- inciting public opinion and inciting sedition.

Everything that he is subjected to in his detention at the hands of the Saudi authorities is illegal, starting with his arbitrary arrest and failure to provide any evidence that he committed any crime, his solitary confinement which is considered in international law as a punishment that should be applied only in thee most limited cases, in addition to the ill-treatment and deliberate medical neglect.

It is worth noting that international humanitarian law stipulates that sick prisoners must receive appropriate treatment and be allowed to communicate with the outside world. International law also imposes restrictions on disciplinary measures such as solitary confinement; Therefore, Al-Awda’s placement in solitary confinement and the failure to provide him with medical and psychological care constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights principles.

The Saudi authorities should release Al-Awda immediately and unconditionally, and enable him to receive the necessary treatment before it is too late while ensuring that he receives all his other basic rights.

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