saudi human rights
Four die in eastern Saudi Arabia police raid
20 February, 2014 – BBC
Two police officers and two men they were trying to arrest have been killed in a gunfight in Saudi Arabia’s restive Eastern Province, officials say.
The interior ministry said the officers came under fire while trying to detain “armed troublemakers” in al-Awamiya, and had “responded to the source”.
It named the civilians who were killed as Ali al-Faraj and Hussein al-Faraj.
However, opposition activists said there had been no exchange of fire and that the two men had been unarmed.
The police officers had burst into the house of a man in search of his wanted brother who was not there, they added.
Ali, the house owner’s 22-year-old son, was shot 11 times while running away, one activist told the Reuters news agency. Hussein, a 34-year-old local photographer, died “as he documented the raid”, the activist said.
The local news website mirataljazeera.net said Hussein had documented anti-government demonstrations and the funerals of the more than 20 people who have been killed in Eastern Province since early 2011.
The oil-rich Eastern Province is home to a Shia majority that has long complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni ruling family.
Protests erupted there when the pro-democracy uprising in neighbouring Bahrain, which has a Shia majority and a Sunni royal family, was crushed with the assistance of Saudi and other Gulf troops. …more
Saudi law warns US not to interfere in domestic affairs, democracy or human rights – advocate
4 February, 2014 – Voice of Russia
Saudi Arabia has signaled to the United States ahead of US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to the country that human rights will be subordinated to the pursuit of terrorists. Unde the new law anyone who “insults the reputation of the state or its position” is now considered a terrorist, punishable by to up to 20 years in jail. Dr. Ali Alyami, the Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, discusses the motives of this legislation with the Voice of Russia.
Could you please explain to us this new piece of legislation? It was approved by the Cabinet back in December. But was there a time to talk about it, to discuss it or maybe to overrule it?
There are a couple of laws that were rectified by the King in the last two or three days. The one that was issued in December of last year was severely criticized by domestic people and also by the entire national media. And then on the eve of the president’s of the US visit to Saudi Arabia the King decided to rectify this and make it to the Saudi law.
The idea behind all of these laws are pretty defective actually. The fact that the government stated that it is objective is to deter and punish terrorist or terrorist-to-be when in fact they don’t need any homage because Saudi Arabia’s system is absolute system and there are no codified laws, it is a religious based judicial system and the judges could do whatever they want to do. …more
Amnesty International censures KSA over controversial law
4 February, 2014 – Shia Post
Amnesty International has censured Saudi Arabia over a controversial counter-terrorism law, calling it the kingdom’s new tool to crush peaceful expression.
The UK-based rights body says the new Saudi law legalizes a range of ongoing human rights violations.
In a Monday statement, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa Said Boumedouha said, “This disturbing new law confirms our worst fears – that the Saudi Arabian authorities are seeking legal cover to entrench their ability to crack down on peaceful dissent and silence human rights defenders.”
This came after Saudi Arabia put into effect the controversial counter-terrorism law that allows Riyadh to prosecute as a terrorist anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or protests against the kingdom’s policies.
“Passing a law with so many serious flaws two years after identical issues with the earlier draft were pointed out does not bode well for the authorities’ plans to end long-standing violations in the name of counter-terrorism. The changes made to the law since 2011 have done little to diminish the potentially devastating impact on human rights. The legislation just seems to codify the Ministry of Interior’s repressive tactics, which Amnesty International has documented for years,” the statement added.
The law, passed by the council of ministers and ratified by King Abdullah in December last year, went into effect on Saturday.
The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, states that any action that “undermines” the state or society, including calls for change of government in Riyadh, can be tried as a terrorist act. The law also gives security forces and intelligence agencies sweeping powers to raid homes and track phone calls and Internet activity.
A large number of activists, clerics, judges and journalists have been jailed in Saudi Arabia for voicing their opposition to the kingdom’s policies.
Over the past 10 years, Saudi Arabia has also arrested thousands of people and accused them of being involved with al-Qaeda. …more