With great sadness and sorrow, the “Together for Justice” team mourns Dr. Musa Al-Qarni, who passed away inside his prison in Dhahban Prison in Jeddah, Tuesday 12 October 2021, after years of medical negligence and detention in solitary confinement without any medical care by the prison authorities of Saudi Arabia.
About three weeks ago, the organisation had warned that the Saudi detainee, Dr. Musa Al-Qarni, could have been harmed, especially after he was denied contact with his family, and given that he was suffering from many health issues due to his detention in inhumane conditions during which he was deprived of any of his basic rights guaranteed by international and local laws.
Al-Qarni was arrested on February 2, 2007 from the city of Jeddah with a number of his friends. They were accused of disobeying the ruler and plotting to overthrow the regime in what was known as the “rest cell” case or “Jeddah reformists.”
After about three years of detention, he was sentenced to 20 year in prison in a politicized trial, which lacked minimum standards of justice. His only crime was wanting to peacefully establish democracy in the country.
During the period of his detention, which extended for more than 14 years, Sheikh Musa Al-Qarni was subjected to many serious violations and brutal torture. He spent a large period of his detention in solitary confinement in a small cell without any mattresses, where the temperatures are manipulated further to torture and abuse him and he was also deprived of sleep.
Like Israeli prisons, he was tortured in a method known as “ghosting,” a method in which the detainee is forced to stand or sit in a certain position for long hours, and in the case of Al-Qarni, he was forced to stand on one foot.
He was also deprived of food, or given little quality of food, in addition to depriving him of medicines necessary for his health condition, as he suffers from irregular blood pressure and diabetes diseases. According to some human rights reports, he was given medicines that were not suitable for his condition and forced to take them.
Musa Al-Qarni was born in the Jazan region and obtained a doctorate in the field of jurisprudence from the Islamic University. Instead of benefiting from his knowledge and moderate reformist ideas, the Saudi authorities kept him behind bars, did not respect his most basic rights, and subjected him to various types of physical and psychological torture until his death this week.
Al-Qarni’s death, a few days after the conclusion of the Saudi regime’s acquisition of Newcastle United, came to confirm that this regime is tyrannical and cannot be cooperated with in any way, and that its desperate attempts to whitewash its image and improve its reputation, which has been tarnished by the increasing violations inside and outside Saudi Arabia, will not work. It will not be able to erase these ongoing atrocities, and there is no way to end it except by improving the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
We call on the United Nations and the European Union, which is having talks with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on human rights, and the rest of the relevant international bodies to take the necessary measures and open an urgent investigation into the death of Dr. Musa Al-Qarni, and to form an urgent committee to examine the conditions of Saudi prisons and the violations to which detainees are exposed to.
The case of the “rest cell” – or “Jeddah reformists” – dates back to 2007 when nine people met in the rest house of lawyer Issam Basrawi – including Dr. Saud Al-Hashemi – to discuss the project of establishing a human rights association concerned with spreading human rights awareness of the citizen, which they called the Peaceful Public National Assembly, but the security authorities arrested all of them, and charged them, only for trying to call for political reform and demanding the promotion of democratic principles.
Following are the names of the detainees in that unfair case, along with the sentences handed down against them:
• Saud Mukhtar Al-Hashemi: imprisonment for 30 years and a ban on travel for another 30 years after his release, and a fine of two million riyals.
• Abdulaziz Al-Khuraiji: Imprisonment for 22 years, a travel ban for another 20 years after his release, and a fine of one million riyals.
• Musa Al-Qarni: Imprisonment for 20 years and a ban on travel for another 20 years after his release.
• Suleiman Al-Rashudi: Imprisonment for 15 years and a travel ban for another 15 years after his release.
• Abdul Rahman Khan: Imprisonment for 20 years and a ban on travel for another 20 years after his release.
• Issam Basrawi: imprisonment for 10 years and a ban on travel for another 10 years after his release.
• Seif El-Din El-Sharif: imprisonment for 10 years and a ban on travel for another 10 years after his release.
• Fahad Al-Qurashi: imprisonment for 10 years and a ban on travel for another 10 years after his release.
• Abdul Rahman Al-Shamiri: imprisonment for 10 years and a travel ban for another 10 years after his release.