Prisoners of Conscience

Investigation: Humanitarian figures behind bars in Saudi Arabia

An investigation by Sanad Organization for Human Rights said that the Saudi authorities arrested figures in humanitarian and social work in the Kingdom in an arbitrary manner and without bringing any charges or proceeding with clear criminal trials or procedures.

The organization said that dozens of prominent figures in social and humanitarian work are still detained or absent by the Saudi regime.

Among those detained by the Saudi authorities is Dr Salem Al-Diny, one of the symbols of humanitarian work in Saudi Arabia and the former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and head of the Voluntary Work Unit at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

The Saudi authorities arrested Al-Diny in September 2017, a few days after he was dismissed from his work at the Ministry of Social Affairs. He is still detained to this day without charges, in a familiar behaviour of the Saudi regime in the absence of national competencies and keeping them from positions of influence.

Huffington Post article presented the experience of Al-Diny in humanitarian work when he was working at the American University of Tampa in the late nineties. During the events of September 11, he presented assistance while wearing his local uniform. The Americans gathered around him in a demonstration of love.

The newspaper adds that today when Al-Diny returned to the Kingdom, he is working on transferring the culture of giving and voluntary work to his community. At a time when hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs increased significantly after the events of September 11, Al-Diny remained a thread of love living in the heart of the state, around which all Americans gathered, for not one moment did he encounter any problems. One of the university students explains this situation by saying, “Al-Diny was serving the Texas community as a volunteer.”

Among the prominent figures in humanitarian work is the social activist Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, who obtained a university degree in Applied Medical Studies from the United States of America. He returned to work in the Saudi Red Crescent Society and contributed to many relief and humanitarian works, especially in the medical field.

He was kidnapped by Saudi security from his workplace in March 2018. He was forcibly disappeared for more than two years before the Saudi authorities sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment on charges related to expressing an opinion.

His sister, Areej Al-Sadhan, said, “Most likely, my brother is one of the victims of the espionage on Twitter carried out by the Saudi government, and he was arrested only because he was tweeting about poverty and detainees.”

Dr Khaled Al-Ajimi, a professor at King Saud University and one of the founders of Saudi relief work inside and outside the Kingdom, was also imprisoned. He has a prominent role in providing relief to the poor and helping the afflicted locally and globally through humanitarian associations and organizations. He contributed to the formation and establishment of a number of relief societies and organizations locally and internationally.

Dr Al-Ajimi was arrested in September 2017 and forcibly disappeared long before the Specialized Criminal Court recently sentenced him to four years in prison on charges related to expressing an opinion.

Sanad Organization for Human Rights called for urgent intervention from the international community to alleviate the suffering of humanitarian and social work symbols in Saudi Arabia. They were once a hand of love and giving that extended to every human being.

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