Saudi Arabia: Arbitrary Arrests Continue Ahead of Biden’s Visit

Over the past period, the Saudi security forces continued their arbitrary arrests against a number of activists, bloggers and families of political detainees, in a move that confirms the ongoing suppression of basic freedoms amid total impunity.

Only two weeks before US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, reports affirmed the mysterious arrest of Malek al-Dowaish, son of the preacher Sulaiman al-Dowaish who has been forcibly disappeared since 2016. His two other brothers were also detained and forcibly disappeared by Saudi authorities.

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 or his state of health or whereabouts since then; he remains 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 till 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 recently followed 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.

 Two weeks earlier than Biden’s go to, Saudi authorities arrested him on costs that couldn’t be decided.

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

In contrast, it confirms that the Saudi regime will move forward towards committing more human rights violations, amid total impunity and international permanent support, reinforced by Biden’s visit, which adds legitimacy to these violations and crimes.

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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