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Saudi human rights activist dies in prison

April 25, 2020

Abdullah al-Hamid was a recipient of the Swedish Right Livelihood Award. He had been imprisoned since 2013 on multiple charges, including breaking allegiance to the Saudi ruler.

Abdullah al-Hamid, Walid Abu al-Chair and Mohammed Fahad al-Kahtani
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/right livelihood award

Renowned Saudi Arabian human rights activist Abdullah al-Hamid died in detention on Thursday, according to multiple rights groups. He had been in prison since 2013.

Al-Hamid, 69, received the Swedish "Right Livelihood Award", often referred to as the "Alternative Nobel", in 2018.

"Dr al-Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia," Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East research director, said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state's inhumane repression."

Co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), al-Hamid was sentenced to 11 years in prison for breaking allegiance to the Saudi ruler and inciting disorder in March 2013. Other members of the group were also charged, leading to the disbandment of ACPRA.

After a heart attack earlier in the year, al-Hamid was denied surgery that led to the worsening of his condition, according to sources. On April 9, he suffered a stroke and had been comatose since then.

"It is unconscionable that Abdullah al-Hamid was forced to spend his final years in prison merely for criticizing Saudi Arabia's rampant human rights abuses," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Saudi Arabia has been under fire for its human rights record, which seems to have worsened under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Initially hailed for his attempts to modernize the country's economy and allowing women to drive, the leader has been criticized by the international community over his crackdown on dissidents and the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

see/aw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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