The death of the well-known Saudi thinker Abdullah Al-Hamid a few days ago in Saudi prisons was not the first of its kind. It was preceded by similar cases with the Islamic preacher Saleh Al-Dhamiri, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Amari, among others.
It is unlikely that Al-Hamid's death will be the last death of a detainee in Saudi prisons, especially with the continued inhuman conditions of detention of dozens of preachers, thinkers and academics in the kingdom who are at risk of medical negligence and death.
Human rights organisations have not succeeded in releasing them, or improving the conditions of their detention, amid accusations against Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of targeting his opponents and getting rid of those who disagree with him since he took office in July 2017.
Preacher Salman Al-Ouda is one of the most prominent figures threatened with death behind bars, since his arrest in September 2017, following a tweet in which he asked God to "reunite hearts" after news about a phone call between Bin Salman and the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
In December 2019, his son, Abdullah Al-Ouda, revealed that his father had been tortured and prevented from obtaining medical treatment and denied sleep, adding: "They tie the Sheikh's hands and feet, throw him in a solitary confinement cell blindfolded. They then throw him food in small bags while he is still tied, forcing him to open them with his mouth until his teeth got injured at some point."
د. عبدالله العودة: تعرض والدي الشيخ #سلمان_العودة لمعاملة في السجن تُصنف دولياً على أنها تعذيب، فقد كان يُحرم من النوم عدة أيام ويُترك مقيداً في العزل الانفرادي، ويتم تقديم الطعام له في كيس صغير يُرمى له وهو مقيد فيضطر لفتح الكيس بفمه! pic.twitter.com/mguM6MQjJs
— معتقلي الرأي (@m3takl) December 31, 2019
He was arrested after publishing a book in which he provided advice to the royal family and asserted the decline of American power and that the future is for Islam, and that wise politics requires standing with the rising power that has a future and not the declining force.
The abuse against him did not stop, but even his sons, Abdul Rahim, Abdullah and Abdul Rahman were arrested, and he was denied day release to receive condolences at the funeral of his mother-in- law in June 2019.
Authorities issued his release on Al-Hawali issuing an apology and takes retracts his earlier statement, however the cleric stuck to his position.
الشيخ سفر الحوالي يتلقى عرضا بإطلاق سراحه إن كتب اعتذارا وإذا رفض أن تتضاعف معاناته، فماذا كتب ؟
كتب لهم ورقة ظنوا أنها اعتذار، فإذا هي مختصر لما جاء في كتابه عن رأيه في آل سعود و ابن سلمان، أعاد صياغته على شكل نصيحة وتحذير من عواقب وخيمة إذا لم يتوقف الظلم والطغيان والفساد!
— مجتهد (@mujtahidd) July 13, 2019
Preacher Awad Al-Qarni, who has spent almost three years behind bars, is suffering from a severe deterioration in his health, especially after the Public Prosecution demanded his execution.
According to human rights statements, Al-Qarni was seen attending his court sessions in a wheelchair, which indicates the continuing deterioration of his health in prison, after he was intentionally given wrong doses of medicines, according to Prisoners of Conscience Twitter account.
— معتقلي الرأي (@m3takl) December 7, 2019
The Saudi authorities accuse 63-year-old Al-Qarni of "sympathising with Qatar, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, belonging to a banned group [the Association of Muslim Scholars], as well as abstaining from praying for the King, and seeking corruption on the land."
Abdul Aziz Al-Tarifi
Preacher Abdul Aziz Al-Tarifi has been held in Al-Ha'ir Prison since April 2016, because of a tweet in which he criticised obedience to the will of America and condemned the visit of former US President Barack Obama to the kingdom.
Al-Tarifi said: "Some rulers think that giving up parts of their religious principles to satisfy infidels will stop them from exerting more pressures. However, the more they adhere to their desires the further they will ask for concessions. They [Arab leader]) must hold still and confront the pressures, as the enemy will not cease attempting to erase our identity."
The 44-year-old's health has deteriorated while in detention and he has been hospitalised repeatedly and denied family visits in order to keep his condition a secret from the outside world.
The inhumane detention conditions under which Musa Al-Qarni is being held have caused great harm to the teacher of Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence and former director of the Islamic University of Science and Technology. He suffered a stroke and is currently staying in a mental hospital.
Al-Qarni has been subjected to harsh treatment in prison including being forced to stand for long hours on one foot, being isolated in a narrow cell and electrocuted, according to human rights reports.
The well-known Saudi academic, 66, who has been referred to retirement by royal decree, is serving a 20-year prison sentence, in addition to being banned from travel for another 20 years after his release.
Authorities charged Al-Qarni, who has been in detention since 2011, of "disobeying the ruler and revolting against the norms by participating in establishing a secret organisation aimed at ravaging the current system and taking over power."
Saud Al-Qahtani, the most prominent political detainee, has been detained since 1991. He has been tortured after being held on charges of distributing pamphlets that incite against the Saudi government.
Although Al-Qahtani's prison sentence in Al-Tarfiya Prison, Buraydah Governorate, ended in 2009, he has not been released yet.
Al-Qahtani, 65, suffers from malnutrition and heart problems, which threaten his life.
Syrian national Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid is being tried on charges of supporting the Iranian-backed Houthi movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to inciting people to fight in Syria.
Al-Munajjid, who was born in 1961 in Riyadh, attends court sessions in a wheelchair as a result of complications in his health following his arrest on 25 September 2017.
Repression and abuse in Saudi prisons is not limited to clerics, but also affects female activists. Loujain Al-Hathloul has endured torture and threats of rape while in detention.
Al-Hathloul was arrested on 15 May 2018, as part of a campaign targeting a number of Saudi activists. She was subjected to extreme forms of torture, to the point that she was threatened with rape and murder by Saud Al-Qahtani, Mohammed bin Salman's adviser.
Other activists are also at risk of being killed in Saudi prisons, including academic Saud Al-Hashimi, Walid Al-Sinani, Aida Al-Ghamdi, mother of the UK-based Saudi oppositionists Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, and others.
Saudi authorities are trying to cover-up the death of detainees in its prisons; refusing to disclose the numbers of prisoners of conscience and detained human rights advocates, while declining requests made by human rights organisations to visit detainees and monitor the conditions of their detention, reported Amnesty International.