Amnesty Calls on Saudi to Release Hunger Striker
Amnesty International has called on the government of Saudi Arabia to release a prominent human rights activist who has been detained for a over a year and is believed to be on hunger strike. Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady, co-founder of the unregistered NGO the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), has reportedly been on hunger strike for over five weeks, and has begun refusing water. Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui released a statement saying, “al-Bajady is a prisoner of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. All charges against him should be dropped and he should be released immediately.” Al-Bajady was charged with harming the reputation of the state, possessing banned books, being a member of an unlicensed association, and instigating demonstrations.
However, Saudi interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said Bajady had not been on hunger strike and was “in good health.” ”Al-Bajady did not go on hunger strike and he is in good health, consuming food on a regular basis and in the company of other inmates,” said Turki.