ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY ... THE ARAB PEOPLES ARE STILL MOANING UNDER OPPRESSION AND TYRANNY
On December 10, the world celebrates International Human Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly, while the Arab region is still inhabited by the spectacle of repression, escalating human rights violations and campaigns to restrict freedom of opinion and expression continue to escalate, along with a climate of impunity and lack of justice and accountability.
Since the beginning of the year, Alkarama has continued to defend victims of repression in the Arab region through human rights mechanisms, submitting dozens of individual complaints and acting as a bridge to bring the voice of the oppressed to public opinion through its various platforms.
"In full concern for the defense of human rights, it is surprising that the international will to put an end to repressive policies in many Arab countries has not been able to succeed. This is due to interests and agreements on arms deals to the detriment of the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the persistence of armed conflicts in many countries, in total ignorance of popular demands for political participation, democratic reform and freedoms," said Rachid Mesli, Alkarama's Legal Director.
There are many examples that can be cited in the context of the human rights situation in the Arab region, bringing us closer to the image of the reality there.
- In Saudi Arabia, the authorities continued their harsh repression of civil liberties and human rights, and continued to detain hundreds of political opponents, including religious scholars, activists, lawyers, journalists and economists. The death of prominent political prisoner Abdullah al-Hamid from medical negligence while in Al-Haer prison was a major shock, while security agencies, particularly the General Investigation Department and the State Security Service, continued to arbitrarily arrest Yemeni officials resident in the kingdom, such as Yemeni activist and government official Abdul Karim Thuail and preacher Abdulaziz al-Zubairi. Alkarama has learned that the Saudi authorities have released them following complaints filed with UN procedures, but both men are currently under house arrest, according to reliable sources for Alkarama. Last October, Alkarama filed a complaint with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on behalf of academic Safar bin Abdul Rahman al-Hawali. The Committe decided that urgent measures were necessary, including his release, but unfortunately to date al-Hawali remains in detention. Alkarama also drew the attention of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to the case of Khaled Al-Rashed, who remains arbitrarily detained after having served a 15 years sentence following an unfair trial.
- Yemen is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis caused by the war that has been raging since September 2014 and has become an open arena for violations and war crimes committed by various parties to the armed conflict, from the Houthi group and the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the U.S. attacks in the war against "terrorism", as well as the Saudo-Emirate coalition, which has been accused of being involved in the murder of two-thirds of civilian victims. The coalition also finances mercenaries responsible for the assassinations of mosque imams and political activists, as well as the establishment and management of secret prison networks where acts of torture and sexual assaults have been documented. The release of five journalists on whose behalf Alkarama has been working constituted a hope of ending the suffering of detained journalists and activists, but this hope was thwarted by the intransigence of the Houthis and their detention of four other journalists.
- In Egypt, the military regime led by Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi continues to rule the country with an iron fist. It is estimated that there are more than 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, many of whom are slowly dying as a result of prolonged detention, lack of health care and mistreatment. Political activist Essam al-Arian died in the same "brutal" circumstances that led to the death of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, as described by UN experts. Alkarama has continued to file complaints on behalf of victims of arbitrary arrests to UN procedures, but despite all the statements, reports and positions condemning the repressive approach in Egypt and the judicial system which has become a tool in the hands of the authorities to silence activists and political opponents, according to UN experts.
- In Iraq, corruption and the involvement of sectarian militias in public life and the absence of the rule of law are the most significant features in the country's current landscape. Iraq experienced a peaceful movement involving youth from various segments of society, but peaceful demonstrators were brutally repressed, violent attacks against them resulted in dozens of deaths, and government authorities failed to hold the perpetrators accountable and provide justice. The UN Committee Enforced Disappearances recently called on Iraq to engage in the search for Munir al-Jubouri, who has been forcibly disappeared since 2014. Another subject of concern relates to the bodies of civilians have been buried under the rubble in Mosul since the war in the city years ago.
- In Algeria, the security services have continued their repressive behavior against all forms of peaceful popular movements demanding fundamental rights and freedoms and a civilian state. Alkarama has filed complaints with various mechanisms in favor of activists Karim Tabou and Fadhel Brika who have issued UN resolutions condemning the arbitrary nature of their detention. UN experts have also condemned the prison sentence of journalist Khaled Drarni, expressing concern about new restrictive laws.
- In the United Arab Emirates, despite of its history of human rights violations and involvement in armed conflicts in Libya and Yemen, Abu Dhabi secured a $23 billion arms deal at the end of U.S. President Donald Trump's term in office. The UAE authorities are still holding dozens of political opponents, who have been sentenced in unfair trials. Abu Dhabi's abuses against Yemenis during its military intervention in Yemen have not ceased, while UN experts have also condemned the UAE for its arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of 18 former Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
- In Libya, the armed conflict casts a shadow on the human rights situation, unlike the civilian victims during military operations, and in various regions, there have been violations of the right to life and physical and moral integrity. Following a complaint from AlKarama, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued Opinion No. 13/2020 regarding the detainee Mustafa Abdul Khaleq Al-Darsi, considering that his detention was arbitrary.
These examples provided by Alkarama represent only the tip of the iceberg of human rights abuses in the Arab region, as there are also other countries that have been the scene of violations, repression and lack of justice and accountability.Indeed, continuous work is still required for providing support to victims and promoting human rights initiatives and events, as well as enhancing a culture of human rights and holding those involved in crimes accountable.