In a concerning display of ongoing human rights violations, the Saudi regime persists in its suppression of activists and political dissent. Among the many victims of this repression is Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al-Awad, whose ordeal continues as authorities unjustly detain him for the 16th consecutive month since his official sentence ended in March 2022.
Al-Oudah was initially arrested by Saudi security forces in September 2019 due to his unwavering support for the Palestinian cause and his refusal to normalize relations with the Israeli occupation. Following a trial held by the specialized criminal court in Riyadh, he was sentenced on April 24, 2021, to a five-year prison term, with a suspended sentence of two and a half years.
Throughout his time in custody, Al-Oudah has endured numerous violations of his basic rights. The authorities have denied him the opportunity to have contact with his family, visitation rights, and the ability to appoint legal representation.
Even prior to his arrest, the Saudi authorities imposed a travel ban on Al-Oudah and several other social media users. They further compelled them to sign pledges not to discuss the Palestinian cause or engage in any form of normalization with the occupying forces.
It is important to emphasize that Abdulaziz Al-Oudah has never taken an anti-government stance within Saudi Arabia. His opinions have solely revolved around advocating for the Palestinian cause, a position that should be protected under freedom of expression.
The continued detention of Al-Oudah blatantly violates his human rights and contradicts the principle of the rule of law. This disturbing situation demands that the Saudi authorities respect the rights of their citizens, ensure their safety, and refrain from arbitrary detention following the completion of their sentences.
The prolonged detention of Al-Oudah serves as a distressing illustration of the Saudi authorities’ repressive and illegitimate approach to dealing with political dissent. In light of this, it is crucial for human rights organizations and the international community to exert pressure on the Saudi government. Their intervention is needed to secure Abdulaziz Al-Awad’s immediate release, conduct an independent and transparent investigation into his case, and hold those responsible for violating his freedom accountable.
It is worth noting that the Saudi authorities maintain a veil of secrecy surrounding the conditions of many detainees, making it difficult to ascertain their well-being. However, reports have emerged suggesting deteriorating health and instances of torture and mistreatment among detainees.