Saudi dissident cleric reportedly imprisoned without basic human rights
Son of renowned Saudi cleric, Shaiekh Salman al-Awwdah, has reported his father denied medical care and basic rights in prison in line with crackdown by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman against Muslim preachers, intellectuals.
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The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page on Tuesday that the 63-year-old cleric’s son Abdullah al-Awdah has recently told BBC news network that the imprisoned scholar had been deprived of sleep for several days and thrown into solitary confinement.
He added that food was served to him in small bags thrown to him, and he had to open the bags with his mouth as he hands were bound.
Abdullah further noted that whenever his father is moved from one place to another, prison guards would take him and violently throw him into the car without any respect for his age and seniority.
The Arabic-language Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on September 4, 2018 that Saudi public prosecutors had leveled 37 counts against Awdah, and even demanded his execution.
Saudi authorities detained the prominent Muslim scholar on September 7 last year and have been holding him in solitary confinement without charge or trial ever since.
Officials have imposed travel bans on members of his family as well. A family member told Human Rights Watch that the distinguished cleric was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
Awdah, instead, posted a tweet, saying, “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,” - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Persian Gulf littoral states, the US-based rights group said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
Qatar said the move was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.