Incommunicado detention / Fear of ill-treatment - SAU 001 / 0207 / OBS 015

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed about the incommunicado detention of at least ten human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Saudi Arabia.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on February 3, 2007, at 3 am, at least ten human rights defenders, including Messrs. Sulaiman al-Rashudi, Essam al-Basrawi, lawyers, Mr. 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, were they had met 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 and confiscated several books and computer units belonging to him and his family. The officials would also have destroyed some furniture and some personal belongings to the 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, in vain, the General Intelligence Service to allow them to visit them and to appoint lawyers. On February 5, 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.

At the time of issuing this appeal, all detainees remain in detention in the offices of the General Intelligence Service (al-Mabahith al-‘Amma) 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.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the psychological and physical integrity of Messrs. Sulieman al-Rushudi, Saud al-Hashimi, Essam al-Basrawi, Al-Sharif Saif Al-Ghalib, Musa al-Qirni, Abdel Rahman al-Shumayri, Abdelaziz al-Khariji and all persons detained;

ii. Release them immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all other human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards ratified by Saudi Arabia.


King Abdullah Bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud, The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, Office of His Majesty The King, Royal Court, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Fax: + 966 1 403 1185
* His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud, Minister of the Interior, Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Fax: +966 1 403 1185 / +966 1 403 3614
* His Royal Highness Prince Saud al-Faisal bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasseriya Street, Riyadh 11124, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Fax: +966 1 403 0645
* Abdulwahab Abdulsalam Attar, Ambassador, Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Route de Lausanne 263, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Email:, Fax: +4122 758.00.00
* Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, 45 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 647.24.92, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in your respective countries.


Geneva - Paris, February 6, 2007

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email :

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