An absolute monarchy in which political parties are banned from working, with no political unions or associations. An oppressive tyrannical regime, in which the king comes at the head of the hierarchy of power, where he is the king, the prime minister, the supreme commander of the armed forces, and has control over legislative, executive and judiciary power. On the other hand, the royal family dominates the government, and its members occupy the majority of key positions in the country, where one heads more than one ministry at the same time.
Unparalleled political, administrative and judicial corruption, an oppressed and controlled civil society that is harassed, and threatened with enforced disappearance, imprisonment with fabricated charges. A kingdom with destructive foreign policies, a record of human rights violations and heinous crimes; most of which amount to war crimes, including systematic assassinations. A kingdom where electronic repression is supported by western parties, where mega project crush the indigenous population and forcibly displace them; This is how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia defines itself and with these grave violations it is preparing to bid farewell to 2020.
Another year passes leaving behind a severe global crisis deepened by the social and economic implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, this common enemy and a common threat to which the response of governments has been fragmented and chaotic. Another year passes and the kingdom is under the command of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The young man who devoted the money of his people, the state institutions, media, and hired killers to promote his person and his destructive vision, and to liquidate his opponents and silence voices that oppose his vision; the one who supports crushing the weaker countries, stands with the strongest, funds wars, supporting normalization with the Zionist entity .
Appalling human rights record
The prisons of Bin Salman’s kingdom are overcrowding with prisoners of conscience, human rights activists, politicians, media professionals, advocates for reform, and even foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia who support the Palestinian resistance, or refugees who entered the Kingdom in a desperate attempt to have a better life. Perhaps the month of December alone could shed light on the grave violations of Saudi Arabia, and the brutal reactions of its authorities against the voices calling for reforms.
Sheikh Salman Al-Odah lost half his eyesight and hearing due to deliberate medical negligence, being imprisoned in solitary confinement for years, and receiving ill-treatment, whether in Dhahban prison or in al-Hair prison, to which he was transferred with handcuffs, blindfolded and thrown in the back of a car without seats.
In December, the Specialized Criminal Court – which deals in terrorism cases – set a date for the trial of the April 2019 campaign detainees. The case includes sixteen people, including a writer, a journalist, human rights defenders, and prominent activists have criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October 2018.
The authorities insist on secrecy about their detention conditions and deny them the right to communicate with their families.
In December, prominent human rights activist, Mohamed Fahd Al-Qahtani, one of the founders of the Hasm Human Rights Association, and a detainee in Al-Hair prison, entered an open hunger strike to protest his ban on communicating with his family and the denial of medical treatment. Al-Qahtani’s battle of empty stomachs reveals the severe restrictions that prisoners of conscience are subjected to.
In December, human rights organizations revealed the arrest of activist Fahd Al-Youssef more than a year ago for criticizing the opening of a discotheque in Jeddah. The authorities also closed his Twitter account.
In December, the two media activists, Abdul Rahman Al-Mutairi, and Rakan Al-Messiri were arrested.
In December, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs cancelled the registration of 100 preachers after they refused to attack the Muslim Brotherhood movement as called for by the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia.
In the same month, the Saudi authorities were intransigent in releasing more than 65 Palestinian and Jordanian detainees, including the prominent leader in Hamas, Dr. Mohamed Al-Khudari,81, who suffers from cancer, as well as arresting his son Dr. Hani. Both were arrest on fabricated charges under the anti-terrorism law without much evidence.
In December, an Ethiopian migrant sent a message through a smuggler’s phone detailing the horrific prison conditions in Saudi prisons. He stated that he and 300 of his fellow citizens are being held in inhuman conditions, where they are beaten and electrocuted, while being handcuffed and forced to use the cell floor as toilets. He stressed that even pregnant women, infants and young children are being held in the same horrific conditions, according to a report published by The Independent, citing the Associated Press.
Saudi prisons have female human rights defenders and feminist activists such as Nassima Al-Sada, Samar Badawi and Nouf Abdel Aziz, who suffer from ill- treatment, harassment, severe beatings, sexual assault, starvation and defamation.
In December 28, 2020, the Saudi authorities issued a verdict against Loujain Al-Hathloul,with 5 years and 8 months imprisonment. An unfair ruling issued by the Specialized Criminal Court based on false accusations of “Al-Hathloul seeking to implement a foreign agenda and change the basic system of government.” Al-Hathloul suffered delays of trials and denial of her torture. This clearly reveals the deterioration of the Saudi judicial system and the urgent need to reform it and secure its independence from the political system.
These are just some of the high profile cases that mostly attract global attention, while international human rights organizations document countless others. This is just one month of serious violations by authorities that continue to violate international law and create a climate of fear that goes beyond borders to other countries.
Even Saudi human rights activists in exile fear for their safety and the safety of their families, especially their relatives who are still inside the country, after the hideous “saw crime” against Khashoggy.
Internationally pariah kingdom
Perhaps Saudi Arabia’s failure to obtain a seat in the Human Rights Council is the best evidence of the kingdom’s transformation into an international pariah state, especially under bin Salman’s rule. A cruel defeat was the result of intense pressure by human rights organizations, which confirmed that the Council’s credibility would be at stake if Saudi Arabia was elected, given its appalling record of human rights violations at the hands of its authorities. This defeat proves that the international community does not place for the kingdom, despite Bin Salman spending millions of dollars to cover up its heinous crimes.
Protests are escalating in countries allied with the Kingdom, namely the United States, the United Kingdom and France, as prominent human rights organizations, many media outlets and citizens seek to hold their governments accountable for arms sales to Saudi Arabia which are allegedly being used to target civilians in Yemen, which has been torn apart by conflict, siege and starvation.
Therefore, it has become necessary to put pressure on the Saudi regime to release all arbitrarily detained persons, especially in light of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is also important to impose the harshest penalties on Riyadh, and to hold all those responsible for the horrific crimes that occur at home and abroad to account.
The international silence increases bin Salman’s recklessness, and impunity strengthens his influence.
Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hatred, and hatred leads to violence and this is the equation.