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Saudi Arabia: UPDATE- Continued arbitrary detention of human rights defender Mikhlif Al-Shommari
Human rights defender Mr Mikhlif Al-Shommari, (aged 57) continues to be subjected to arbitrary detention since his arrest on 15 June 2010.
In a letter dated 24 October 2010 sent from a detention centre in Dammam, eastern Saudi Arabia, Mikhlif Al-Shommari called upon international bodies and NGO’s, many of which he has previously met, including assistants of Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who visited Saudi Arabia in 2010, to intervene to ensure he is released, and his physical and psychological safety is guaranteed.
Mr Mikhlif Al-Shommari stated that during his detention he has received food which is of poor quality, been deprived of medical treatment, and is being detained with criminals who have illnesses such as AIDS, Phthisis and liver diseases. He stated that he is in need of urgent medical attention and psychotherapy.
Mikhlif Al-Shommari stated that he is being detained as a result of his human rights work, in particular fighting discrimination against women, expatriates, and religious minorities as well as his online articles which call for peace between Sunni and Shiaa muslims ,and condemnation of religious radicalism.
Mikhlif Al-Shommari was arrested on 15 June 2010 and was taken to Al-khober police station. On 20 June 2010 the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution registered case number 2029/255/31 against him, charging him with the offence of "annoying others" with his writings.
He has been interrogated in relation to six articles he had written and published on various Saudi websites. According to his file in Dammam General Prison, where he was moved in early July, the charges against him relate to critical remarks regarding public officials which he made in the articles.
On 19 July 2010, a court in Dammam city rejected the case as being out of its jurisdiction, and returned it to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) in Dammam city. As a result, Mikhlif Al-Shommari remains in detention in Dammam General Prison.
Mikhlif Al-Shommari previously worked with the government-sponsored Human Rights Commission, but left the organization due to disagreements regarding its methods of work. Since then, he has been independently campaigning and posting articles in defence of the rights of foreign workers and minorities in Saudi Arabia, and criticizing intolerance by officials and religious governmental apparatus.
Front Line believes that the continuing detention of Mikhlif Al-Shommari is a direct result of his human rights activities, in particular his exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Front Line fears for the physical and psychological integrity of Mikhlif Al-Shommari and urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to: Immediately and unconditionally release Mikhlif Al-Shommari, drop all charges against him, and Guarantee his physical and psychological integrity.