General: At FIDH 40th Congress, participants call for release of human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa

19.11.19

We, human rights defenders from the Middle East and North Africa region, supported by our colleagues from all the regions across the globe who attended the 40th Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in Taipei, Taiwan on 21-25 October 2019, declare our full solidarity with missing, kidnapped and detained rights defenders, online activists and journalists in our countries, and call for their immediate and unconditional release. We remember their courage, commitment, and determination to have a prosperous future for all our citizens, one where the rights to free expression, assembly and association are respected.

We reiterate our calls and demands to disclose the fate and whereabouts of detained and disappeared human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Al-Khail, Wa'el Hamadeh, Nazem Hammadi, Khalil Ma'touq, and Mohamed Thatha, who remain unaccounted for until today.

We are very concerned for the health and well-being of colleagues and friends from FIDH member organisations, including Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founders of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), who are imprisoned on lengthy sentences in Bahrain with inadequate medical care, along with Naji Fateel and Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace.

We call for freedom for all human rights defenders serving prison sentences in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including GCHR Advisory Board Member Ahmed Mansoor, as well as human rights lawyers Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken and Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansori, and academic Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith. All of them have been poorly treated in prison and Mansoor is held in isolation, where he is very ill.

In Egypt, we call for the release of all those arbitrarily arrested since protests began on 20 September 2019 calling for the President to resign. They include human rights lawyer Amr Imam of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Masry, and prominent blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah.

In Iran, many human rights defenders are serving long sentences in prison for defending the rights of women and children, the environment, and minorities, as well as for fighting against the death penalty, including Atena DaemiNargess Mohammadi, and Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Among the many women human rights defenders arrested in Saudi Arabia who remain in prison are Loujain Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah, Nouf Abdulaziz, Mayya Al-Zahrani, Israa Al-Ghomgam, and Naima Al-Matrod. Many other human rights defenders remain in prison in Saudi Arabia serving lengthy sentences including Raif BadawiWalid Abu Al-KhairIssa Al-Nukheifi, Essam Koshak, Mohammed Al-Oteibi, Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, and Dr. Mohammad Al-Qahtani.

In Kuwait, many Bedoon rights activists remain in prison for protests carried out this summer, including Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli, Ahmed Al-Onan, Awad Al-Onan, Abdullah Al-Fadhli, Yousif Al-Osmi, Nawaf Al-Bader, Yousif Al-Bashig, Hamoud Al-Rabah, Khalifa Al-Anzi, and Reda Al-Fadhli.

Across the region, journalists who are critical of their governments have been arrested on false charges and sentenced to long prison terms, such as press freedom activist Taoufik Bouachrine, Managing Editor of Akhbar El-Youm, in Morocco.

We call on the relevant authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, journalists and online activists jailed across the region in violation of their rights to free expression, assembly and association.