Saudi Arabia: Skyline condemns arbitrary prison sentences imposed on ten Egyptian citizens for organizing a cultural symposium
Stockholm- The international human rights foundation Skyline is seriously concerned with the sentences imposed by Saudi judicial authorities on the detention of 10 Egyptians from the Nubian community against the backdrop of the organization of a public cultural symposium they planned to hold in October 2019.
In a statement issued today, Saturday, Skyline states that the Special Criminal Court, which held its last session on October 10, sentenced 10 Egyptians from the Nubian community to several years in prison for organizing a cultural activity in the capital Riyadh. The court stressed that this decision constitutes a serious violation and an unjustified deviation from the principles of fair trial, as it is a clear attack on the right to peaceful assembly, expression and the exercise of civil activities.
Skyline states that among the people who were tried: "Mohammed Fathallah Juma Shater, 37, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Dr. Faraj Allah Ahmed Youssef, 64, the former head of the Nubian community, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the same duration approved for "Hashem Shater", while "Adel Fakir" was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The remaining Egyptian prisoners were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 to 12 years, namely "Gamal Masri, Ali Bahr, Saleh Ahmed, Abdel Salam Ali, Abdullah Bahr and Wael Hassan".
"Skyline" states that the Saudi authorities had summoned Dr. "Farajallah" and his nine colleagues before holding a symposium they had announced to introduce the Nubian community to which they belong on the anniversary of the October 6 War, 1973. Thus, they were detained for 60 days in Al-Ha'ir prison.
Skyline further indicates that the General Directorate of Investigation, which represents the secret police and is affiliated with the Presidency of State Security, arbitrarily re-arrested the 10 Egyptian citizens on July 14, 2020. According to human rights sources, the ten detainees were transferred three months ago to "Asir Prison in Abha city, the administrative headquarter, without being allowed to meet with their lawyers or know charges against them.
For its part, "Skyline" stresses that what the Saudi authorities have done clearly and unjustifiably violate the international conventions that guarantee individuals the right o express their opinions and organize peaceful meetings and gathering. Article (19) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that": Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Skyline concludes its statement stating, "it is crucial to immediately and unconditionally end the arbitrary detention of the 10 Egyptian citizens. The Saudi authorities are fully responsible for protecting the existence of minorities and their national or ethnic identity.
Skyline finally urges the Saudi authorities to provide all legal guarantees for all groups and individuals to hold peaceful activities without being risked by prosecution or arrest. It furthers stresses that the Egyptian authorities should follow up the detainees' file and coordinate with authorities in Riyadh to ensure their release.