American citizens signed a letter to the Saudi King, demanding the release of human rights activist.

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A Closed letter from Human Rights Organisations to the Saudi leadership

Saudi Arabia: WGAD Petition for Relief – Waleed Abulkhair | Petition

Human Rights Watch and the Union 11535831_893126304079964_5504968508908934755_nInternationale des Avocats (UIA – International Association of Lawyers) have joined this Petition for Relief filed 14 April 2015 by Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Lawyers for Lawyers (the Netherlands), the Law Society of England and Wales (U.K.), the Law Society of Upper Canada, the International Federation for Human Rights- FIDH (France) and the World Organization Against Torture – OMCT (Belgium, Switzerland) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (U.S).

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Petition for Relief: In the matter of Waleed Abulkhair v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Petition for Relief: In the matter of Waleed Abulkhair v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.111

On the first anniversary of the detention of human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair,  organizations  filed a Petition for Relief asking the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to confirm that his detention is arbitrary and to require his immediate release. The Petitioner was arrested 15 April 2014 and sentenced 6 July 2014 to 15 years in prison in violation of the UDHR, for representing clients and advocating for the recognition and enforcement of internationally protected human rights.  

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Lighting a Candle for Waleed Abu al-Khair

1138-209502_samar_badawi_and_waleed_abu_al-khairOn 6 July 2014, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced Waleed Abu al-Khair to 15 years in prison, a 15-year travel ban, and a fine of 200,000 Saudi riyals. To mark the passing of one year since his unjust sentencing, the international human rights community has put forward a series of testimonials that highlight Waleed’s work as an attorney and human rights activist, detail the Saudi government’s efforts to silence him, and prove, as he has written, that “even from prison, you can still light a candle.”

Waleed’s Activism

Needed political and social reforms do not occur spontaneously, nor are they the products of wishful thinking. The establishment of an impartial system of justice in Saudi Arabia requires, as it has elsewhere, the personal endeavors of men and women like Waleed. In recognition of the importance of this struggle, the international community should continue using all avenues available to press for his immediate release and for the Saudi government’s adoption of real and lasting legal and political reform.”

-Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

As a proponent of political and social reform in Saudi Arabia, Waleed fully engaged in the struggle for human rights. In 2007, he and a group of activists released a petition entitled, “Parameters of a Constitutional Monarchy,” a bold challenge to the Saudi king’s unchecked powers. In 2008, Waleed organized a 48-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Saudi prisoners of conscience. That same year, he founded “Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia” (MHRSA), an independent human rights organization. He went on to support women’s driving campaigns and to educate international audiences on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Mounting pressure could not deter Waleed from his advocacy work, as evidenced by his decision to host a weekly discussion forum in his home called “Sumoud,” meaning “resistance” or “steadfastness” in Arabic, that became a space for conversations free from government oversight.

His Legal Work

I will continue to promote the goals of my client Mr. Abu Al-Khair and hope that democracy-loving countries around the world will insist that Saudi Arabia release those peaceful advocates of freedom and human rights who are only a threat to tyrannical despots too afraid to engage in rational discourse.”

-Daniel N. Arshack, Arshack, Hajeck & Lehrman; Waleed’s counsel

Waleed has utilized his position in the criminal justice system to defend prisoners of conscience and other marginalized voices. In 2009, he chose to represent several of the Jeddah Reformers, activists who had been detained without trial since 2007, against the powerful Ministry of Interior. After this action, the U.K. Embassy asked Waleed to take up the defense of a British citizen who had been imprisoned without trial for nearly four years, a challenge he accepted. Waleed alsodefended Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist detained for disobeying her father. In 2012, he gained international recognition for his legal defense of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger arrested for establishing the Saudi Liberal Network website and “insulting the Islam.”

Government Harassment

Throughout the time that I have known Abu al-Khair, and on the many occasions that we have sat and spoken together, he has clearly articulated his absolute support for human rights, regardless of gender, skin color, appearance, or ideological background.”

-Yahya Assiri, head of ALQST and friend of Waleed (للنسخة العربية، اضغط هنا)

Government officials began to harass him in 2009, questioning him about his activities and leveling threats against his father and brother. In March 2012, when Waleed was slated to attend a 6-week democracy-building course at Syracuse University, New York, through the Leaders for Democracy Fellows Program, Ministry of Interior officials informed Waleed that they had banned him from traveling due to “security concerns.”

Trials

Having failed to silence Waleed Abu al-Khair through extra-judicial and other arbitrary means, the Saudi Arabian authorities convicted and imprisoned him for his work protecting and promoting human rights in Saudi Arabia. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately.”

Amnesty International

In October 2013, authorities arrested Waleed and charged him with “organizing illegal gatherings.” Later, the Jeddah Criminal Court sentenced Waleed to three months in prison for signing a public statement that condemned the trials of the Jeddah Reformers. A separate trial before the Specialized Criminal Court, Saudi Arabia’s national security tribunal, also began that October.

In April 2014, Saudi authorities arbitrarily detained Waleed and sent him to al-Hair political prison. On 7 July 2014, the Specialized Criminal Court sentenced him to his current 15-year prison sentence (with five suspended) on charges of “undermining the regime,” “inciting public opinion,” and “insulting the judiciary.” In January 2015, Waleed’s case was brought before the Special Criminal Court of Appeals; after he refused to acknowledge the court’s legitimacy, the presiding judge added the five suspended years to his total prison term and denied the possibility of parole.

Lighting the Candle

One year following his politically-motivated sentencing, ADHRB, Amnesty International, ALQST, and attorney Daniel N. Arshack can attest to Waleed’s character and embrace his aspirations for a more just, equitable, and stable Saudi society. We call on the Saudi government to secure his immediate release and vacate his conviction.

*On Wednesday, July 22 at 11:30 AM, ADHRB and Amnesty International will co-host an event,Arbitrary “Justice” in Saudi Arabia: How Activists Have Organized against Due Process Violations, at the offices of Open Society Foundations in Washington, D.C. Stop by to learn more about Waleed and other activists who have sacrificed their freedom to advance basic civil and political rights in Saudi Arabia.

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Ask the Saudi King to release Waleed Abulkhair in the spirit of Ramadan

Waleed Abulkhair

Waleed Abulkhair

In May of 2015, Maharat Foundation and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) launched the prisoners of conscience campaign in association with IFEX. The campaign seeks to shed light on the many activists and human rights defenders who have been imprisoned across the Arab region simply for expressing their opinions and beliefs. 

Every month, a new Arab prisoner of conscience will be spotlighted and their stories will be told. There are many ways that you can get involved to help demand their release, an improvement of their conditions, or at the very least, to let authorities know that these individuals will not be forgotten. 

Join us as we make it known around the world that #TheirFreedomIsTheirRight! 

This Month’s Prisoner: Waleed Abulkhair 

The prisoner of conscience for the month of June is Waleed Abulkhair. Waleed is an internationally recognized Saudi Arabian lawyer and human rights activist, as well as the head of the human rights organization the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. 

On 6 July 2014, a Special Court in Jeddah sentenced Waleed to 15 years in prison for his peaceful activism and criticism of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia voiced over Twitter and in media interviews. The charges were laid under the new anti-terrorism laws that have increasingly been used to target human rights defenders in the country.

In addition to the prison sentence, Waleed has also been stuck with a travel ban and fined 200,000 Saudi Riyals. He has been held incommunicado at the al-Hair prison since February of 2015, where activists and human rights defenders fear he has been the victim of torture and other abuse.

Tweet for Waleed’s freedom 

Urge King Salman to mark this Ramadan by giving Waleed his freedom. Send the tweet provided above, and any other messages with the common prisoners of conscience hashtag #TheirFreedomIsTheirRight or #حريتهم _حقهم

Want to do more? 

Post the photo of the prisoner of the month on your accounts, blogs or websites;

  • Write to the public prosecutor, the minister of interior, the president, or the leader of your country;
  • Encourage the press in your country to write about the case of the prisoner of the month.

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PEN International: Release Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair Immediately and Unconditionally

rbwLondon, 17 June 2015

‘All this cruel suffering happened to me because I expressed my opinion’ – Raif Badawi

17 June 2015 marks three years since the arrest of activist, blogger and editor Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia. Three years later he remains in prison for peacefully expressing his opinions and is facing 9,950 further lashes.

Raif Badawi had spent almost two years in prison before being convicted in May 2014 of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (approximately $266,000), a ten-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes, to be administered each Friday after noon prayers.

‘Raif Badawi’s cruel and degrading punishment is a violation of his basic human rights. We call on governments around the world to call for his immediate and unconditional release.’ Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

On 9 January 2015, Badawi received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes he was sentenced to outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds. In June 2015, the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold this draconian sentence.

PEN International continues to call for Badawi’s conviction to be overturned and for him to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for his sentence of flogging to be halted immediately, as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

PEN International also reiterates its call for the release of Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in connection with his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

  • Release Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair Immediately and Unconditionally

  • This petition is to demand that His Majesty King Salman ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia release Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair immediately. Please complete and send the petition below to add your voice to ours. You may edit the petition if desired, before sending.

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/saudi-arabia-renewed-calls-for-release-of-imprisoned-blogger-raif-badawi-on-third-anniversary-of-arrest/#sthash.A5NsJlP8.dpuf

Jailed Saudi Human Rights Attorney, Waleed Abu Al-Khair Receives Human Rights Award

1138-209502_samar_badawi_and_waleed_abu_al-khairOn June 12, 2015, a panel of European attorneys and representatives of European Bars recognized Mr. Waleed Abu Al-Khairwith Europe’s most prestigious human rights award, the 20th Lodovic-Trarieux Human Rights International Prize award, which was first given to Nelson Mandela in 1985. Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia as a result of his human rights advocacy activities in Saudi Arabia since February 2014.

Human rights attorney Waleed Abu Al-Khair angered the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia by founding the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA). He represented fellow reform activists who themselves were charged with crimes against the Kingdom related to their calls for reform of the brutal monarchy. Mr. Abu Al-Khair was arrested while representing the political dissident Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for establishing a website that was critical of the regime and allowed for open discourse regarding religion.1 Mr. Abu Al-Khair is married to and has a daughter with Saudi women’s rights’ advocate Samar Badawi (Raif Badawi’s sister), who was herself jailed and now is subject to a travel ban for advocating for the rights of women under the repressive Saudi regime. In 2014, with the appeal of Mr. Badawi’s case underway, Mr. Abu Al-Khair was detained under the anti-terrorism law and convicted of crimes against the state including “inflaming public opinion,” “disparaging and insulting judicial authority,” “making international organizations hostile to the Kingdom,” and violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law. In fact, all these human rights advocacy activities occurred before the Saudi anti-terrorism law, under which he was inexplicably prosecuted, was even enacted. Mr. Abu Al-Khair was summarily sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2015. He was also fined, subject to a long-term travel ban, and ordered to shut down all of his online accounts.

Since neither Mr. Abu Al-Khair nor his wife can attend the 20th Lodovic-Trarieux Human Rights International Prize award ceremony in Geneva, Mr. Arshack will receive the award on Mr. Abu Al-Khair’s behalf.

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Jailed Saudi lawyer wins prestigious human rights prize

Waleed Abu al-Khair in one of weekly Salons he hosted at house in Jeddah in 2012- TIME video

Waleed Abu al-Khair in one of weekly Salons he hosted at house in Jeddah in 2012- TIME video

The Law Society is pleased to report that human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair has been awarded the Ludovic Trarieux Prize, an annual legal award which was first won by Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned in South Africa.

However, al-Khair remains detained, sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, solely related to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities and exercise of his profession as a lawyer.

No evidence was presented and no allegations were made that he had engaged in or promoted any violence or caused any harm to any person. Moreover he was representing others who had been detailed by the Saudi authorities including Raif Badawi, the Saudi human rights blogger, who was sentenced imprisonment and to be flogged 1,000 times.

The President of The Law Society has previously written to King Salman about the Society’s concern that these incidents are directly related to Mr. AI-Khair’s action to protect the rights of other prisoners. He had already written earlier to protest at his incarceration and the failure of the Saudi authorities to respect international norms in relation to his detention, conviction and sentence to 15 years in prison breaching the UDHR, The Arab Charter of Human Rights and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The Law Society would like to reiterate its concerns over the detention and treatment of al-Khair and urges the Saudi Arabian head of state to reconsider.

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Norwegian MPs from all partys with letter to king salman: Free Waleed!

Waleed Abulkhair

Waleed Abulkhair

click here to download the full letter