Saudi campaigner arrested in fresh crackdown on rights activism

Saudi campaigner arrested in fresh crackdown on rights activism
As four women's rights campaigners were released from Saudi jails, another activist has been arrested in Riyadh's fresh crackdown on liberals.
2 min read
25 May, 2018
Activist Mohammed al-Bajadi [Facebook]
Saudi Arabia detained another human rights activist on Friday, hours after the release of four women's rights campaigners following a fresh crackdown on the kingdom's liberals.

Mohammed al-Bajadi is the co-founder of the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), one of the few independent human rights groups in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International reported.

"The arrest of Mohammed al-Bajadi means that the Saudi Arabian authorities have continued their crackdown on the human rights community," Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East director of campaigns, told AFP.

"This is a worrying development and we call on the government to release all human rights defenders immediately."

Bajadi was sentenced to ten-years in prison in 2015 for organising protests among other charges, but was subsequently released.

Previously jailed in 2011, he went on a hunger strike for weeks after he was held for attending a protest in Riyadh, according to campaigners.

Saudi officials have so far not commented on his latest arrest.

Bajadi's detention comes after at least 11 female activists were arrested earlier this month, mostly of them identified by rights groups as veteran women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative country's male guardianship system.

The renewed crackdown has cast further doubt on Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman's image as a "reformer".

Since coming into power the young prince has vowed to end he ban on women drivers and loosen the guardianship laws, among a host of other 'liberalising' measures, however, the latest campaign of arrests goes to show that the kingdom is still reticent to celebrate reform.

Agencies contributed to this report.