Skyline warns of the deteriorating health of a hunger striker human rights defender in Saudi Prisons
STOCKHOLM - Skyline International holds the Saudi authorities fully responsible for the health condition of human right defender and academic Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani after he began a new hunger strike to protest his ill-treatment in the Riyadh Reformatory section in Al-Ha’ir Prison where he is being held. In this regard, Skyline calls upon the authorities to abide by the international law’s rules, especially these related to people deprived of their freedom’’ and enable them to exercise their rights without restrictions.
Wednesday, Skyline highlights what Al-Qahtani’s wife Maha Al-Qahtani announced on her Twitter account on 8 August 2021. She said that her husband, Dr. Al-Qahtani, had begun a hunger strike in protest against the deliberate and unjustified harassment and deprivation of his rights in prison.
She further said that her husband goes on hunger strike as he was deprived of his books that have remained in the possession of the prison administration for nearly a year, and her phone number being blocked so that he could not contact his family. In addition, he is protesting the presence of a number of inmates who suffer from mental illnesses and need to be hospitalized.
On 18 December 2020, Dr. Al-Qahtani began a hunger strike in Al-Ha’ir criminal prison to protest his inability to contact his family, or to receive the books sent to him which have been withheld by the prison administration. He ended this hunger strike on 30 December after the authorities promised to meet his demands, but they did not. After that, Al-Qahtani and other detainees launched a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment they exposed to in prison.
on 09 March 2013, the Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced Dr. Al-Qahtani to 10 years in prison on 12 charges including setting up an unlicensed organization, "refusing to submit to the will of the King", "inciting public disorder" and "communicating with foreign entities." Despite the opportunity to appeal, the human rights defender was immediately imprisoned.
Dr. Al-Qahtani is a founding member of the Association for Civil and Political Rights in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA) and a professor at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, which operates under the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He earned his doctorate from the American University in Indiana. He is a thinker, human rights defender and writer, who has written for numerous Saudi newspapers. n November 2012 he was named by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the 100 prominent thinkers in the world.
For its part, the human rights foundation ‘’Skyline’’ warned of the repercussions of the “Al-Qahtani” hunger strike, pointing to the danger that threatens his life if he continues. Despite this, the Saudi authorities reject providing him with the necessary treatment and enabling him of his basic rights. Therefore, Skyline holds these authorities fully responsible for the deterioration of Al-Qahtani’s health condition that It is constantly deteriorating due to the ill-treatment and the recurrent hunger strikes he has been launching. it carries out.
Skyline concluded its statement by calling on the Saudi authorities to stop their practices that violate the international law’s rules related to prisoners’ treatment, especially prisoners of conscience and dissidents. Also, it stressed the need for the Kingdom to take more serious steps to improve conditions inside prisons and activate monitoring and accountability mechanisms against violators.
Finally, Skyline called on international organizations, including the United Nations, the team on arbitrary detention and other parties to act urgently and put pressure on the Saudi authorities to release all detainees. They should also exert efforts to organize frequent field visits to determine the human rights and humanitarian situation inside prisons, and to ensure that the minimum requirements go with basic principles of international law.