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Saudi ‘repress’ dissident pilgrims: ‘Hajj is not safe’ campaign launched by rights groups

June 17, 2022 at 8:37 am

Worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah. [Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umra/AFP via Getty Images]

Several human rights organisations and Islamic institutions have launched a hashtag campaign “Hajj is not safe” to expose what they say are violations and abuses carried out by Saudi Arabian authorities against pilgrims and visitors taking part in Hajj and Umrah.

The campaign was organised by Sanad Human Rights Organisation, a group which defends political and civil rights in the kingdom and monitors and exposes human rights violations.

In a statement published on Thursday, the organisation explained that the campaign was started in response to the “repeated and ongoing violations perpetrated by Saudi authorities” who they accuse of luring pilgrims by granting them Hajj and Umrah visas, only for them to be arrested, imprisoned or deported to other countries where their lives and freedom are at risk.

The Saudi authorities are accused of using the Hajj and Umrah as a means to “repress dissidents”, the statement said.

“The Saudi government adamantly and repeatedly politicises the Two Holy Mosques of Makkah and Medina, and made Hajj and Umrah a tool of repression, a means of eliminating opponents, and a way of supporting some authoritarian regimes,” it added.

According to Sanad, China’s Uyghur Muslim minority top the list of groups that the Saudi government targets during the Hajj season, when they arrive from the diaspora community in other countries, with many reportedly handed over to the Chinese authorities.

Last month, Sanad released their annual human rights report for 2021, shedding light on the continued human rights violations despite numerous warnings from international rights organisations.

“The incessant heinous practices of human rights violations and the continued policy of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and brutal torture inside prisons confirms that the Saudi regime is adamant to continue to pursue these policies in managing the country,” the report said.

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