Dr. Mohammad Al-Qahtani joined several other activists this week in a 2-day hunger strike in Saudi Arabia to protest the unfair detention of 11 human rights activists. In this Skype webcam interview, Mohammad talks about the campaign and discusses how online tools are being used to call for justice within Saudi Arabia.
Of the 11 detained human rights activists, none of them have had formal charges or a trail date. Additionally, 9 are currently in solitary confinement and 10 of them have been detained since February 2, 2007 - 642 days and counting.
Arbitrary detentions, unfair trails, torture and ill-treatment are widespread and generally committed with impunity in Saudi Arabia. Under Saudi law, one can be detained for up to six months (and up to 60 days in solitary confinement) without a formal sentencing or trial.
Once detained, detainees are "commonly the victims of systematic and multiple violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture and ill-treatment during interrogation,"
according to Human Rights Watch.
Calling for the release - or fair and public trails - of detainees is incredibly restrictive under the absolute monarch. In July 2007, the Mabahith, Saudi secret police, arrested five women who were peacefully demonstrating for the release or trial of their relatives detained for over two years without trial. Operating under oppressive restraints of freedom of expression and assembly, the activists' defense team and supporters have harnessed the power of online tools to amplify their voices and calls for justice.
The Facebook page launched with members from the defense team, family and friends, and within a few days jumped to over 500. The combination of few freedoms to assemble, associate or express oneself publicly with reasonably high internet connectivity and 60% of the population under the age of 30 creates a unique potential to quickly mobilize action online. Word is quickly spreading in online chat rooms, social networks and the blogosphere.
Please help spread the word!
All: Please forward this video and links to your friends and family
Bloggers and vloggers: Please write about this movement and embed this video (or others found here)