Free Saudi Human Rights Activst Fadhil Makki al-Manasif, Tortured and Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
- UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, State Department, EU, European Parliament, White House
- Saudi Arabia
Fadhil Makki al-Manasif, 26, is a photographer and a member of the Adala Center for Human Rights (Adala Center), a rights organization in the Eastern Province Fadhil city of Qatif. On April 17, 2014 al-Manasif received a harsh 15-year sentence from the Specialized Criminal Court, plus a 15-year travel ban after his prison sentence and a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (US$26,666) – for charges that included “breaking allegiance with the king” and “being in contact with foreign news agencies in order to exaggerate news and harm the reputation of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people.”
As a member of the Adala Center, al-Manasif played a leading role in documenting abuses against demonstrators in the Eastern Province in 2011. He organized educational workshops on human rights in Qatif and acted as an interlocutor between the families of detainees and authorities, on several occasions approaching police officials in the Eastern Province on behalf of families to ask about the whereabouts of missing family members.
Security forces arrested al-Manasif in his home town of Awammiyah on April 15, 2009 and detained him without charge for three months at the Dammam General Prison. Officials accused him and 20 others of participating in protests, which are banned by the Ministry of Interior, and released him in June after he signed a pledge not to take part in gatherings.
Authorities arrested al-Manasif again in May 2011, two days after he disseminated information to international media outlets and human rights organizations on amendments to the press law and ongoing protests in the Eastern Province. In response to a summons, al-Manasif presented himself to the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigation Department in Awammiyah, where security forces immediately took him into custody.
On June 4, 2011, security forces transferred al-Manasif to solitary confinement in the General Investigation Directorate (al-Mabahith) prison in Dammam. On June 6, prosecutors charged him with a series of crimes related to his first arrest in 2009, including “sowing discord,” “inciting public opinion against the state,” “damaging public property by organizing and calling for protests,” and inviting the international media to demonstrations, as well as participating in gathering information about demonstrations. Security forces released him on August 22 2011, after he signed a declaration promising to refrain from participating in further demonstrations.
On the evening of October 2, 2011, al-Manasif approached the Awammiyah police station to speak to police about their detention of two elderly persons, whose sons were wanted for participation in protests. The authorities had detained the men in order to compel their sons to turn themselves in, according to the Adala Center for Human Rights. When one of the elderly men collapsed, al-Manasif followed by car the ambulance taking the man to the hospital and was stopped and arrested at a checkpoint. Security forces transferred him to the Mabahith prison in Dammam, and placed him in solitary confinement for four months, denying him any visits from his family until August 11, 2012, 314 days after his initial arrest. He remains in detention.
On May 12, 2011 several United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders released an urgent appeal on al-Manasif’s behalf, expressing concern that his arrest violated his right to freedom of expression. The UN Secretary General on July 21, 2011 also expressed concern that his situation “may be related to his work in the defense of human rights, in particular, his involvement in the documentation and dissemination of information on human rights violations, as well as his engagement with United Nations mechanisms and other international human rights organizations.”
According to the Adala Center, al-Manasif alleges that authorities have subjected him to various forms of torture during his detention including beatings on his hands and legs, blindfolding for extended periods of time, forced standing for extended periods of time, and electrocution.
During his interrogation sessions, a colleague of al-Manasif’s at the Adala Center told Human Rights Watch, officials questioned him about his rights activism and he acknowledged being in communication with international human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
AND WHEREAS: The charges against him violate international human rights covenants and standards of jurisprudence and are part a new, disturbing trend:New terrorism regulations promulgated by Saudi authorities in 2014 criminalize, as terrorism-related offenses, acts such as “contact or correspondence with any groups [that are] hostile to the kingdom,” “making countries, committees, or international organizations antagonistic to the kingdom,” and “calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins [or] protests”;
AND WHEREAS: Fadhil Makki al-Manasif has also been a victim of torture at the hands of his interrogators;
THEREFORE: We, the undersigned, demand that the international community at ALL levels bring ALL possible pressure to bear upon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reverse the ILLEGAL prison sentence imposed upon Fadhil Makki al-Manasif, drop the EQUALLY ILLEGAL charges filed against him, and IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDTIONALLY release Fadhil Makki al-Manasif and ALL OTHER prisoners of conscience in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.