Criticism has mounted against granting Saudi Arabia the presidency of G20 for the next 12 months. The decision made in June and implemented on 22nd November at the G20 foreign ministers in Ngoya, Japan, caused an uproar over its human rights record and last year’s killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Similar criticism was made last week. Rights groups were up in arms on 19th November at the presence of a youth “charity” at a Unesco event in Paris with close ties to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and run by a figure linked to a dissident espionage case in America. Some 6,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the UN body based in the French capital to “end its partnership” with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), the Saudi crown prince’s personal charity. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said: “Unesco shouldn’t let the Saudi crown prince whitewash his reputation through contributions from his charitable foundation.” “It’s about time that all UN bodies abandoned MiSK for good,” said Sunjeev Bery of Freedom Forward, which launched the online petition. Agnès Callamard, the UN expert and lawyer who investigated the Khashoggi murder, said she was “alarmed at the capacity of the international community to move on to something else” and criticised “all attempts by Saudi Arabia to sell its ‘soft power’”.
Recently Saudi Arabia has detained at least eight people, mostly intellectuals and writers, two sources including London-based Saudi rights group ALQST said, amid a two-year crackdown on free expression in the kingdom. On 16th November, several houses in Riyadh were raided and four people were detained: Bader Al Rashed, Sulaiman Al Saikhan al Naser, Wa’ad Al Muhayya and Mus’ab Al Abdul Karim. Their computers and belongings were confiscated. At the same time in Medina city Abdul Majeed AlBalawi was arrested in a raid on his house. On 18th November in Abha city Abdul Rahman Al Shehri was detained after his house was raided. On 21st November the house of blogger Fu’ad Al Farhan in Jidda was attacked and he was arrested.
On 18th November four United Nations (UN) Special Procedures offices published an Allegation Letter to the Government of Bahrain concerning the denial of adequate medical care for detainees in Jau Prison, including individuals with chronic health conditions, persons with disabilities, human rights defenders, and prisoners of conscience. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) served as the source of the information provided to Special Procedures, through UN Complaint Program. ADHRB welcomes the comments from the Special Procedures offices, and echoes their calls for Bahrain to uphold its international obligations and respect the human rights of all prisoners.
On 21 November, a Joint letter on the medical treatment of prisoners in Bahrain, signed by 52 Members of the European Parliament, was sent to the Head of the European Union Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman, Mr. Michele Cervone d’Urso. The letter was signed by MEPs representing all of the political groups in the European Parliament. It addressed the denial of medical treatment to political prisoners in Bahrain. It raised concerns regarding the cruel and inhumane treatment of several high-profile prisoners, and asked that the Ambassador urge the Bahraini authorities to immediately allow those prisoners access to adequate medical care. It also raised the case of opposition leader Hassan Mushaima who suffers from a range of serious medical issues including diabetes, gout, heart and prostate problems, numbness and is in remission from lymphoma cancer, requiring PET scans every six months. The case of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace was also raised. He suffers from post-polio syndrome and depends on a wheelchair, has also been denied access to medical appointments unless he subjects himself to humiliating treatment that violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The letter confirmed that female political prisoner Hajer Mansoor was assaulted and targeted deliberately denying her medical care for a lump in her breast and kidney stones.
On Saturday 23rd November a U.S. senator Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, visited the home of a prominent human rights activist in Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab, long detained by the khalifi regime on internationally criticized charges and called for “freedom of expression” to be defended there. Murphy met with Rajab’s son, Adam Rajab, as the family hosted a weekly open house to hear from other activists and artists in Bahrain. “America should be a consistent voice for democracy and human rights, which is why I went to visit Nabeel Rajab’s family,” Murphy said in a statement on 24thNovember. “Advocating for the freedom of expression must be an element of every bilateral relationship, which is why I raised his case, along with the broader need to protect open civil discourse, with Bahraini government officials I met with in Manama. Murphy had been in the Bahrain for the annual Manama Dialogue security conference.
Bahrain Freedom Movement