Intl. rights group releases shocking report on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia

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 picture shows a general view of the maximum-security al-Ha'ir Prison, located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (By Reuters)

An international human rights organization has warned against the appalling condition of human rights in Saudi Arabia and the brutal forms of physical and mental torture that state authorities use against imprisoned political dissidents and pro-democracy campaigners.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said in a report that Saudi citizens are subject to all kinds of torture ever since they are arrested on trumped-up charges, and the torments do not stop even after rulings are passed and include the families and relatives of the detainees as well.

The group added that Saudi officials carry out various types of mental and physical torture against the detainees who later face the death penalty. They are severely beaten and forcibly disappeared for long periods of time during detention.

ESOHR went on to note that Saudi authorities make use of different methods of physical torture, including electric shocks, sleep deprivation, beatings, extraction of nails from fingers and/or toes, and hanging from the feet to force the imprisoned activists into signing confessions.

The human rights organization pointed to the case of Saudi teenager Mustafa al-Darwish, who was executed in June 2021 and was forced to sign a confession under the threat of a retrial.

Apart from physical torture, ESOHR has observed the employment of psychological torture against a number of detainees, including threats to their families.

Haider al-Leif, a protester who was executed on April 23, 2019, was threatened that if he did not sign the confession, his wife would be summoned to prison to divorce him.

According to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, detainees endure other brutal measures such as deprivation of contact with their families and and daily insults.

In many cases, torture results in permanent disability, injury, pain, coma and loss of consciousness. The prisoners are denied the right to medical treatment.

The report added that Munir al-Adam, a young man who was executed along with 36 other men on April 23, 2019, lost his hearing due to torture, and Abdullah al-Tarif, another young man who was executed in the same mass execution, was tortured.

Torture caused damage to his spinal vertebrae and deviation of his left eye, and other parts of his body were also harmed.

Since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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