Dissident cleric dies because of ‘medical negligence’ in Saudi prison
Story Code : 808801
The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Sheikh Saleh Abdulaziz al-Dumairi passed away at Tarfiya prison in Saudi Arabia’s north-central city of Buraydah on Saturday.
Dumairi was apparently suffering from heart problems, and was being kept in solitary confinement.
The dissident cleric had been detained on several occasions in the past over his political activism, and support for prisoners of opinion.
The development came only a day after Amnesty International called for the immediate and unconditional release of prominent Saudi dissident Muslim cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah.
“The hearing of Sheikh Salman al-Awdah has been adjourned again after a year of several postponements. We continue to demand Saudi authorities to release the Sheikh immediately and unconditionally, drop all charges against him, and respect international human rights standards in his trial,” the London-based organization said in a post published on its Twitter page.
On July 28, Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court postponed a hearing in the case against Sheikh Awdah until December amid growing concerns he would be sentenced to death.
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 in support of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
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 authorities also defrocked a scholar and deprived him of ecclesiastical status on July 17 this year.
Pro-democracy activists said the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments took the measure against Sheikh Talal Sultan Bukhari, who is the imam of Mohammed bin Sorour al-Sabban mosque in the southwestern city of Taif, Arabic-language New al-Khalij news website reported.
The activists noted that the measure came after Sheikh Bukhari called on King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the crown prince to ease pressure and strain on the lives of ordinary people, and order tax cuts during a Friday sermon.
Saudi Arabia has lately 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.