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Rights group voices concern over ‘enforced disappearance’ under MBS in Saudi Arabia

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending the annual shura council meeting, a top advisory body, in the capital Riyadh on December 30, 2021. (Via AFP)

A human rights group has voiced concern over the unknown fate of dozens of victims of enforced disappearance in Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom is in a dark era under the rule of the infamous Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The Saudi authority still ignores international condemnations and warnings and continues its repressive and arbitrary policy against the people of the country, in an effort to take away their freedom of opinion and expression,” Saudi Leaks cited the Sanad Rights Foundation as saying on Sunday.

The Sanad Rights Foundation noted that the enforced disappearance is one of the “brutal repressive” methods adopted by Riyadh against prisoners of conscience, describing it as a “black feature” of the era of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

According to the rights group, Turki al-Jasser, Saud bin Ghosn, Ahmed al-Muzaini, Jabir a-Amri, and Abdulrahman al-Sadhan are among the prominent victims of the enforced disappearance of persons launched by Saudi authorities.

It condemned Riyadh for hiding the prisoners of conscience in violation of legal provisions, urging the Saudi regime to “review its policies and reveal the fate of the innocent victims.”

Last September, the group noted that the Saudi authorities have detained hundreds of scholars, preachers, thinkers, researchers, writers, journalists, and activists since the first campaign of arrests that took place in September 2017. Sanad denounced the regime for turning a blind eye to the danger of the targeting of prominent people who could play a role in the kingdom’s progress.

Salman al-Ouda, Muhammad Musa al-Sharif, Awad al-Qarni, Hassan al-Maliki, Muhammad al-Munajjid, and Essam al-Zamel were among other prominent figures detained in September 2017.

The group also noted that the female activists have also become a target of the “brutal repression and enforced disappearance,” adding that there are more than ten women whose fate is unknown, including Halimah al-Hewety, Sara al-Jabri, and Mona al-Byali.

“The Saudi authorities refrain from revealing the situation of prisoners of conscience for fear of the exposure of the crimes of psychological and physical torture that are being carried out against them,” Sanad said in September, lamenting that the criminals enjoy impunity.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests 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 scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

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