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‘Public Hunger Strike’ in Saudi Arabia for Imprisoned Activist Al-Bajady

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Human Rights, Protest

Saudi human rights activist Mohammad al-Bajady [1] has been getting much attention in the Saudi Twittersphere the last few weeks. Al-Bajady is one of the co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association [2] (ACPRA) and he has been detained since March 21, 2011 [3], after taking part in a protest calling for an end to arbitrary detainment in front of the Interior Ministry building in Riyadh. He was secretly tried and sentenced last April to four years in prison [4].

On November 14, ACPRA issued the following statement [5] [ar]:

في آخر اتصال هاتفي للناشط الحقوقي محمد بن صالح البجادي على زوجته، في تاريخ 3 ذو القعدة 1433هـ، الموافق 19 سبتمبر 2012م، أخبرها أنه سيضرب عن الطعام فور انهاءه للمكالمة احتجاجا على سوء معاملته، ثم وردت أنباء عن نقله بعد ذلك إلى زنزانة انفرادية وعزله عن العالم الخارجي، ومنذ تاريخ اعلانه للإضراب عن الطعام لم يرد منه أي اتصال هاتفي

In the last phone call from human rights activist Mohammad al-Bajady, which was on 19 September 2012, he told his wife that he would start a hunger strike right after the phone call to protest maltreatment. Our sources told us that he was then taken into solitary confinement. Since he announced hunger strike, no phone call was received.

Yesterday, December 9, @freealbjadi [6] announced a public hunger strike to support al-Bajady on December 10, which marks the international Human Rights Day:

عش تجربة البجادي في السجن وأعلن اضرابك غدا عن الطعام…

@freealbjadi [7]: Experience what al-Bajady is facing in prison and announce your hunger strike tomorrow…

“Save al-Bajady” campaign logo

Tens of reformist figures announced that they will be taking part in the public hunger strike in the hashtag #سأشارك_غدا_بالإضراب_عن_الطعام_تضامنا_مع_إضراب_البجادي [8] (I will be participating in the hunger strike in support for al-Bajady), including activist Mohammad al-Qahtani [9], ex-political prisoner Matrook al-Faleh [10], and famous blogger Fouad al-Farhan [11] along with over 200 other people [12], while the previous public hunger strike in support for al-Bajady, which took place last March, had only 38 participants [13]. This led activists to announce success [14].

By strictly prohibiting demonstrations, Saudi Arabia invites new methods for public dissent, mostly undertaken by young people.