Online Activists Support Imprisoned Saudi Dissident
|April 17, 2012|
On Monday, April 16, 2012, activists in Saudi Arabia reported that prominent Saudi dissident, Mohammad al-Bajadi, was sentenced to four years in jail and a five year travel ban after news of his hunger strike began circulating the Internet. Reuters reported that al-Bajadi was taken to Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court on April 10, 2012, where he was sentenced for charges including: “forming a human rights association, tarnishing Saudi Arabia's reputation in the media, questioning the independence of the judiciary, encouraging political detainees' relatives to demonstrate, and owning illegal books.”
On April 9, 2012, one day before his hearing, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) released a statement describing the rapidly deteriorating health of al-Bajadi, who was one of the ACPRA’s founding members. Al-Bajadi began a hunger strike on March 11, 2012, in protest of his wrongful imprisonment. On April 7, 2012, Al Bajadi stopped drinking water, and in a statement by ACPRA, he “faint[ed] four times in a row, which proves that his life is in danger and his death inevitable.”
On March 20, 2011, Mohammad al-Bajadi travelled to Riyadh to support a protest organized by families of political prisoners demanding the release of their relatives. He tweeted: “A policeman asked me if I have any family members that are in jail and I told him that all of the prisoners are my family members.” Following this tweet, activists reported that al-Bajadi went missing and has been held in Saudi custody ever since.
Members of ACPRA, communicating with al-Bajadi through letters smuggled from his prison cell, reported that he spent his first four months imprisoned in solitary confinement. Saudi authorities denied that Al Bajadi is on a hunger strike, while activists have reported that officials force-fed him.
Activists have created a petition for his release, and continue to campaign on behalf of al-Bajadi on Facebook and Twitter.
Postpone your dreams, delay your ambitions, until further notice. There is no future when justice is absent, and no justice is speaking up is prohibited #al-bajadi #mohammed al-bajadi #yousef ahmed #arrested