The Organization of Democracy Now revealed to the Arab world”DAWNIn a report that, under the eyes of Lieutenant-Colonel Ali bin Rashid Al-Zahrani, director of Al-Ha’ir prison in Saudi Arabia, a prominent Saudi democracy activist died after prison officials denied him proper medical care.
The organization pointed out that Al-Zahrani is also responsible for the mistreatment of other Saudi activists imprisoned for their peaceful speech.
She said that in April 2020, Abdullah Al-Hamid, one of the most prominent reformists in Saudi Arabia, lost consciousness and fell into a coma while he was in Al-Ha’ir Prison (the General Investigation Prison in Al-Ha’ir), according to his family.
According to Amnesty International, officials at Al-Ha’ir Al-Hamid Prison prevented a long-awaited cardiac catheterization.
He fell to the ground and remained in that state for several hours before prison guards took him to Al-Shumaisi Hospital, and later died.
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The Saudi authorities arrested Al-Hamid for his peaceful call for democratic reforms in the absolute Saudi monarchy.
For his part, Abdullah Al-Odah, director of the Gulf region at DAWN, said: “Al-Hamid, who was named the Saudi Mandela, led a civic movement that would affect the consciousness of generations of Saudis.”
He added, “Al-Zahrani must be held accountable for his medical negligence.”
Al-Zahrani, as the director of al-Ha’ir prison, oversaw the mistreatment of Muslim scholar Salman al-Awda, who was also imprisoned for his peaceful calls for reform.
Al-Zahrani is responsible for the mistreatment of Salman al-Awda starting in September 2019, including unjustified prolonged solitary confinement.
Al-Awda has been in solitary confinement since his arrest in September 2017. From mid-May to mid-September 2020, al-Awda was held incommunicado in al-Ha’ir prison. During this period, Al-Awda’s health deteriorated and he lost half of his sight and hearing.
Abdullah Al-Awda said: “The ill-treatment and medical neglect in Al-Ha’ir prison and some other Saudi prisons are not individual cases or exceptions. It is a systematic work.”
“Prison officials like Al-Zahrani bear responsibility for these violations,” he added.
Al-Zahrani was also responsible for denying Loujain Al-Hathloul visits and allowing her only one phone call from May 2020 to October 2020.
Al-Zahrani said that these measures were taken to prevent the Corona pandemic.
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He said in a video that it was a measure taken against several prisoners. Many families of political detainees, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, spoke to DAWN researchers, stressing that the measures include practices unrelated to the Corona pandemic.
For example, three families other than the al-Hathloul and al-Awdah families said that al-Zahrani and his subordinates prevented their family members in al-Ha’ir prison from making a phone call or any other contact with the outside world for months, even though there was no health reason preventing phone calls.
Ali bin Rashid Al-Zahrani
Al-Zahrani hails from the Harir branch of the Zahran tribe in Al-Baha, southern Saudi Arabia. He has been the director of Al-Ha’ir prison since at least September 2019.
Before assuming the position of director of Al-Ha’ir prison, Al-Zahrani was the commander of the military police and the media coordinator in the prisons of Jeddah.
Al-Zahrani bears full responsibility for the ill-treatment of prisoners in Al-Ha’ir prison.
DAWN requested a response from Lieutenant-Colonel Ali bin Rashid Al-Zahrani by writing to the Saudi authorities on December 9, 2020, but no response had been received at the time of publication.
The organization called on activists to organize a campaign calling for pressure on the Saudi authorities to release peaceful activists and to stop abusing prisoners.
The organization said that a tyrant cannot impose his tyranny on an entire country alone, as he needs someone to help him implement his repressive practices, even if this harms the interests of its citizens.
These employees often work in the shadows, hiding their complicity under the guise of professionals who perform their duties in offices, courtrooms, police stations, and interrogation rooms.
The organization Democracy Now for the Arab World “DAWN” seeks to reveal the identity of the state employees who help perpetuate repression, and to make it easy to identify them at home and abroad.
Individuals designated by the organization as “perpetrators” bear administrative, civil, moral and/or political responsibility for violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws.
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