Waleed Abu Al-Khair on hunger strike
On 9 January 2019, prominent Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair was transferred to King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah. Abu-Khair’s health deteriorated radically after he restarted his hunger strike on 11 December 2019, after he was being put back into solitary confinement. This was reported by Front Line Defenders on their website.
In November 2019, Abu al-Khair allegedly already started a hunger strike to protest against the solitary confinement and ill-treatment he has been subjected to while in prison. He ended his hunger strike after he was being placed back in his previous cell from solitary confinement on 10 December 2019. However, Abu Al-Khair restarted his hunger strike after he was being placed back into solitary confinement the next day. It has been reported that he was denied appropriate medical care in King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah. After his release from the hospital, Abu Al-Khair has been placed back into solitary confinement and has restarted his hunger strike.
Update: The Gulf Center for Human Rights reported that Abu Al-Khair has announced on 6 February 2020 that he would end his hunger strike after being transfered from solitary confinement to his former cell.
About Waleed Abu al-Khair
Waleed Abu al-Khair is one of the best-known voices for democratic and human rights reforms in Saudi Arabia. As a lawyer he has been an outspoken advocate for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a constitutional monarchy and recognition of human rights. Waleed Abu al-Khair is the founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, a human rights organization that published information about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.
Arrest and prosecution
Waleed Abu Al-Khair was arrested in April 2014. On February 15, 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal in Riyadh confirmed a sentence of fifteen years in prison, a travel ban of equal duration following imprisonment and a fine of SR 200.000,- (approximately EUR 47.000,-). The charges against him were “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”, “criticising and insulting the judiciary”, “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”, “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation”, “contributing to the establishment of another” and “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has twice reviewed the legitimacy of the detention of Abu al-Khair in November 2015 and July 2018. The Working Group stated that the arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of Abu al-Khair lacked any legal basis and has twice recommended his immediate release.
Lawyers for Lawyers has been campaigning for Waleed Abu al-Khair ever since his arrest in 2014 and is concerned about his current situation.
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