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Vigil for Freedom of the Longest-Held Prisoner in Saudi Arabia-15 years

Saudi Religious Prisoner Goes on Second Hunger Strike
Friday 2 February 2007

January 25, 2007

After being held in prisoner for 15 years for a remark he made as a young boy, Saudi religious prisoner, Hadi Al-Mutaif has begun his second hunger strike. His first hunger strike started September of last year, 2006, which prompted prison authority to move him into solitary confinement. The unbearable conditions of this punishment led to Al-Mutaif’s suicide attempt by swallowing a nail. Recently, he has been let out of the hospital after recovering from this attempt, but in response has started a second hunger strike.

Hadi Al-Mutaif was unjustly arrested at the age of 19, as a young student after jokingly making an offensive comment in the Mosque. The few around him that overheard, told the police and the boy was immediately arrested. The trial began in 1994 and he was sentenced to death in 1995, without the benefit of legal counsel. This sentence was later reduced to a life sentence rather than death.

There is great reason to believe that his arrest was not due to the comment but due to his religious affiliation. Hadi is a unique type of Shia Muslim. He is an Ismaili Shia, and a member of the smallest minority in Saudi Arabia who numbers little over half a million adherents, or 3% of the Saudi population and live mainly in the historical city of Najran . It was the Ismaili Fatimid who built Cairo , and its famed Al-Azhar University . The fact that Hadi was an Ismaili was his biggest sin, in a country ruled by the most sectarian government in the Middle East, that of Saudi Arabia .

Since 1995, many attempts to save Al-Mutaif have been made but little response has been given to the issue. Numerous letters to the Saudi Human Rights Commission have been sent, but only phone calls have been made to the prison in an effort to save Al-Mutaif. This effort has proven to be futile, as today he is on his second hunger strike. King Abdullah is the only power who can free Al-Mutaif, but the abundant appeals made to the king remain unanswered.

Despite the prison’s efforts to dissuade him from a hunger strike, Al-Mutaif has refused to submit. If a greater effort is not made quickly, this man will die. He has spent almost half his life in prison for being a minority in a place where the majority is in complete control.

Justice must be served for Hadi Al-Mutaif, now 31. His most precious years have been spent in a jail cell, full of torture, torment and agony. An aggressive effort to save this man must be made, before his hunger strike turns fatal.

What: International Campaign to Free Hadi- Vigil to Free Hadi

When: Saturday, February 3, 2007, 6-8pm

Where: In front of the Saudi Embassy, 601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW , Washington DC , 20037

Who: The International Campaign to Free Hadi

1900 L Street NW Washington DC 20036

(202) 466-9500

Director: Ashley R Deiana

Chair: Yosstina Roubil

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  • Vigil for Freedom of the Longest-Held Prisoner in Saudi Arabia-15 years

    13 June 2009 - 

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