On February 3rd, 2007, at 3:00am, at least ten human rights defenders, including Messrs. Sulaiman al-Rashudi & Essam al-Basrawi – lawyers, Saud al-Hashimi – a doctor, Messrs. Musa al-Qirni and Abdel Rahman al-Shumayri – university professors, and Messrs. Abdelaziz al-Khariji and Al-Sharif Saif Al-Ghalib, whose profession remain unknown, were arrested and placed in incommunicado detention, where they are at risk of ill-treatment. While some were arrested in Madinah city, others were arrested by officials of the General Intelligence Service in a residential area called “Bahra”, in Jeddah city. They had met in Jeddah city to discuss the organisation of peaceful activities in favour of political and democratic reforms in the Kingdom. The same officials also assaulted the house of Mr. Essam al-Basrawi destroying furniture and personal belongings, also confiscated several books and computer units belonging to him and his family.
All men are well-known for their peaceful activities. In particular, they engaged in the past in signing petitions addressed to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud calling upon him to initiate political and democratic reforms in the Kingdom and to respect human rights.
The men would reportedly be suspected of “illegally collecting money and passing them on to suspicious elements outside the country”.
Since their arrests, the detainees’ relatives asked the General Intelligence Service to allow them to visitation and to appoint lawyers. On February 5th, 2007, Mr. Essam Basrawi’s son was denied the right to visit his father, ordered to return home and warned to never ask again to meet his father. He wanted to hand him some medicine, as Mr. Essam Basrawi is ill and a disabled person.
Presently, the detainees remain in detention in the offices of the General Intelligence Agency in Jeddah. The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the incommunicado detention of these ten men, and fears for their physical and psychological integrity. The Observatory considers their detention, which appears to be only aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities, as arbitrary and urges the Saudi government to release them immediately.
Letter by Darlene D.R. Kavka sent on February 7, 2007.