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Human rights group voices concern over deliberate medical negligence inside Saudi jails

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This undated file picture shows a view of cells inside al-Ha’ir prison, south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Reuters)

A human rights organization has expressed serious concern about the deliberate medical negligence against political opponents and opposition figures kept in detention centers across Saudi Arabia, saying it is in line with the Riyadh regime’s brutal crackdown against pro-democracy campaigners in the kingdom.

Sanad human rights organization, which defends political and civil rights in Saudi Arabia and monitors human rights violations and exposes them to public opinion as well as international organizations, said that Saudi prison authorities deliberately deprive inmates of medical treatment as part of their policy of abusing and killing them silently.

While all governments are obliged under the international law to protect human beings against rights violations and ensure their freedom and dignity, the repressive policy of Saudi officials against jailed activists has significantly undermined such principles, Sanad noted.

The human rights organization went on to say that many imprisoned Saudi activists are deprived of basic medical care, which poses serious threats to their lives.

Sanad then pointed to the case of Saudi poet, human rights activist and a co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), Abdullah Hamid Ali al-Hamid, who died in detention last April following denial of medical care.

It added that many jailed Saudi activists, including Salman al-Ouda and Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, are suffering from lack of medical services.

Separately, the opposition National Assembly party condemned the deliberate medical negligence of prisoners inside Saudi prisons.

The party slammed Saudi officials for the deterioration of health conditions of detainees, political prisoners above all, especially after some of the detainees were infected with coronavirus.

The National Assembly said in a statement that the wife of Mohammad Fahad Muflih al-Qahtani, an economics professor and co-founder of ACPRA, has voiced concern about her husband’s well-being and said he suffers from chronic coronary heart disease.

She said Qahtani contracted coronavirus shortly after he went on hunger strike to protest the mistreatment of prisoners by Saudi officials.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim Saudi scholars have been executed, women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured, and freedom of expression, association and belief continue to be denied.

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