Action Alert: Saudi Arabia – Prominent activist Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari detained without trial by Saudi regime.

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Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shummari’s inclusive political attitude invites the wrath of Saudi authorities.

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required
4. Sample letter

1. Summary

Saudi human rights activist, Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari, has been detained by Saudi officials for over a year now without trial over the content of his opinion pieces in various newspapers. This comes after several instances of arrest since 2007 in which he was repeatedly released without charge. This has been, and continues to be, a clear violation of his dignity and basic human rights.

2. Background

A human rights activist and pro-reform writer, Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari (57 years old) has been imprisoned without trial in Saudi Arabia’s Alzmam prison since 15 June 2010. Prior to his arrest, Sheikh al-Shammari authored several opinion pieces in his local Ha’il newspaper in addition to other online magazines. His work has included topics such as women’s rights and being a mediator between Sunni and Shia muslims in Saudi Arabia.

In this instance, he was preliminarily arrested on 15 May 2010 and spent six hours in custody despite no official court order presented for his arrest. He was finally released on bail without any charge. One month later he was arrested again under the order of the Governor of the Eastern Province, Prince Mohammad, while having dinner at a friend’s house in the eastern town of Jabil. After being held in Al-Khobar police station, he was then transferred to Alzmam prison.

On 20 June 2010, he was charged with the offence of “annoying others” with his writings. This was followed by an intense interrogation on the content of six of his published articles in which he openly criticised the Saudi government’s anti-Shia remarks and policies. Since then, there has been no set trial regarding his case.

In 2007, Sheikh al-Shammari was also arrested by Saudi secret police after meeting with a prominent Shite cleric, Hassan al-Saffar. He was released almost four months later without any charges. Those close to the Sheikh were repulsed by the way in which he was treated in prison during that time, in addition to the intimidation of his children by security forces and the raiding of his office in which private documents were taken. After such a string of arrests, this most recent violation of his rights therefore comes as no surprise due to his continued desire to speak out against injustice.   


3. Action Required

Write to the following authorities requesting to urge the Saudi Arabian government to free Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari.  

a) The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.  

b) Minister of foreign affairs in your country, urging him/her to raise this issue with his/her Saudi counterpart. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address, fax and email on the sample letter below.

c) Saudi ambassador in your country. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address and email on the sample letter below.
 
4. Sample letter ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.
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a. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Dr. Navanthem Pillay
Palais des Nations
CH-1211
Geneva 10, Switzerland

Dear Dr Navanethem Pillay,

Re: The ongoing detenion of human rights activist, Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari

I am deeply concerned over the imprisonment of the esteemed Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari, a Saudi human rights activist and pro-reform writer, by Saudi officials in June 2010. He has been held in prison ever since with no opportunity for a fair and open trial. As you are likely aware, this case transpires within the context of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing and unacceptable arbitrary detention of activists.

Sheikh al-Shammari was first arrested in 2007 for four months after simply meeting with a Shia cleric, during which time his children were intimidated by security forces and his office raided. On 15 May 2010 he was arrested again and spent six hours in custody despite no official court order presented for his arrest. Although he was finally released on bail without any charge, one month later he was arrested again while having dinner at a friend’s house. He was transferred to a nearby prison where he remains locked up to this day.

On 20 June 2010, he was charged with the offence of “irritating others” with his writings. This was followed by an intense interrogation on the content of six of his published articles in which he openly criticised the Saudi government’s anti-Shia remarks and policies. His work has also included topics such as women’s rights.

As a prominent organisation within the United Nations, I ask that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention immediately demand the release of Sheikh al-Shammari by the Saudi government. This ongoing detention of individuals who are clearly trying to express their right to freedom of speech must not be tolerated. Please call on the Saudi government to provide the Sheikh with his basic human rights and release him immediately.

I look forward to hearing back from you regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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b. Minister of foreign affairs in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44 (0)20 7839 2417 or email: private.office@fco.gov.uk)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. William Hague
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Hague,

Re: The ongoing detention of human rights activist Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari

I am deeply concerned over the imprisonment of the esteemed Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari, a Saudi human rights activist and pro-reform writer, by Saudi officials in June 2010. He has been held in prison ever since with no opportunity for a fair and open trial. As you are likely aware, this case transpires within the context of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing and unacceptable arbitrary detention of activists.

Sheikh al-Shammari was first arrested in 2007 for four months after simply meeting with a Shia cleric, during which time his children were intimidated by security forces and his office raided. On 15 May 2010 he was arrested again and spent six hours in custody despite no official court order presented for his arrest. Although he was finally released on bail without any charge, one month later he was arrested again while having dinner at a friend’s house. He was transferred to a nearby prison where he remains locked up to this day.

On 20 June 2010, he was charged with the offence of “irritating others” with his writings. This was followed by an intense interrogation on the content of six of his published articles in which he openly criticised the Saudi government’s anti-Shia remarks and policies. His work has also included topics such as women’s rights.

I urge you to call on your Saudi counterparts to look into the matter and arrange for the immediate release of the Sheikh. This ongoing detention of individuals who are clearly trying to express their right to freedom of speech must not be tolerated by the British government. Please call on the Saudi government to provide the Sheikh with his basic human rights and release him immediately.

I look forward to hearing back from you regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

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c. Saudi Ambassador in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, email: ukemb@mofa.gov.sa)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
30 Charles Street
London
W1J 5DZ

Your Excellency,

Re: The ongoing detention of human rights activist Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari

I am deeply concerned over the imprisonment of the esteemed Sheikh Mukhlif al-Shammari, a Saudi human rights activist and pro-reform writer, by Saudi officials in June 2010. He has been held in prison ever since with no opportunity for a fair and open trial. This case transpires within the context of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing and unacceptable arbitrary detainment of activists.

Sheikh al-Shammari was first arrested in 2007 for four months after simply meeting with a Shia cleric, during which time his children were intimidated by security forces and his office raided. On 15 May 2010 he was arrested again and spent six hours in custody despite no official court order presented for his arrest. Although he was finally released on bail without any charge, one month later he was arrested again while having dinner at a friend’s house. He was transferred to a nearby prison where he remains locked up to this day.

On 20 June 2010, he was charged with the offence of “irritating others” with his writings. This was followed by an intent interrogation on the content of six of his published articles in which he openly criticised the Saudi government’s anti-Shia remarks and policies. His work has also included topics such as women’s rights.

I urge you to call on the Saudi government to look into the matter and arrange for the immediate release the Sheikh. This ongoing detention of individuals who are clearly trying to express their right to freedom of speech must not be tolerated and is a shameful act of your government. Please call on the Saudi authorities to provide the Sheikh with his basic human rights and release him immediately.

I look forward to hearing back from you regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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