Jailed Saudi rights activists win 'alternative Nobel prize'

Jailed Saudi rights activists win 'alternative Nobel prize'
Saudi human rights defenders, Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair, were announced Laureates of the 2018 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize".
2 min read
24 September, 2018
The announcement was made by Ole von Uexkull and Amelie von Zweigbergk [AFP]
Three jailed Saudi human rights activists were awarded "the alternative Nobel prize" on Monday, marking the first time The Right Livelihood Award goes to Laureates from Saudi Arabia.

Civil and human rights defenders Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair won a joint cash award of one million kronor (97,000 euros, $114,000).

They were selected for their "courageous efforts" to reform the totalitarian regime in Saudi Arabia.

"The three laureates have challenged this authoritarian system through peaceful methods, calling for universal human rights, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy," the jury said.

"As a consequence of their courageous struggle for a more pluralistic and democratic society, the three men have been sentenced to between 10 and 15 years imprisonment and all are currently in jail.

"Their visionary and inclusive approach to shaping a positive future for their home country has been, and continues to be, a great source of inspiration for many people in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region."

The announcement was made at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs by Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, and Amelie von Zweigbergk, board and jury member of the Foundation.

"As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates 70 years, it is shameful to see how world leaders side with the repressive ruling family of Saudi Arabia instead of the courageous reformists who are promoting democracy and equality in the country," von Uexkull said.

"Al-Hamid, al-Qahtani, and Abu al-Khair are a great source of inspiration and hope not only to people in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region, but to anyone who believes in humanity."

The Swedish jury also awarded two anti-corruption activists, a farmer and an agricultural scientist.

Al-Hamid and al-Qahtani are two of Saudi Arabia's most prominent human rights activists. They co-founded the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights.

They were imprisoned in 2013 for providing "inaccurate information" to foreign media.

Activist and lawyer Abu al-Khair was arrested in 2014 for signing a document with dozens of others demanding for reforms. He was found guilty of disobeying the ruler and harming the reputation of the kingdom.