mohammed al qahtani rights organisations call on saudi arabia to release acpra members
On April 24, a number of human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and MENA Rights Group, called on authorities in Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release five members of the now-dissolved Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).
In a statement carried by OMCT, the organisations called for the reveal of health condition and immediate release of prominent Saudi human rights defender and co-founder of ACPRA, Dr Mohammed al-Qahtani, who has been held in incommunicado detention since October 24.
Al-Qahtani was arbitrarily arrested in 2012 and sentenced by the Criminal Court in Riyadh in 2013 to ten years in prison followed by a travel ban of equal length on charges including “instigating international organisations against the Kingdom.”
He finished serving his prison sentence on November 22. However, since October 24, Saudi authorities have denied him any contact with his family. His family, the statement further read, has reasons to believe al-Qahtani has entered into a hunger strike and his health has considerably deteriorated.
Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time the human rights defender was held in incommunicado detention. He was denied contact with his family in April 2021 after testing positive for Covid-19, raising concerns over his well-being for the duration of his ailment.
For the past decade in prison, security forces have subjected al-Qahtani to torture and ill-treatment, the rights organisations alleged. They expressed their elevated concerns over his well-being considering the death of ACPRA co-founder Abdullah al-Hamid in detention in 2020.
ACPRA was established in 2009 by 11 human rights defenders and academics in an effort to protect fundamental rights and freedoms in the Kingdom.
It was dissolved by court order in 2013 and as of May 2016, all 11 members of the organisation had been given lengthy prison sentences ranging between seven and 15 years by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) for their human rights activism.