Saudi Arabia: Egyptian Nubian men face prison sentence for organizing event


Responding to the news that 10 Egyptian Nubian men are at risk of being sentenced to prison in a hearing session on 31 August after a grossly unfair trial for organizing a peaceful remembrance event, Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Acting Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“After over two years of arbitrary detention and a grossly unfair trial marred by due process violations, the Saudi authorities continue to prosecute the 10 Egyptian Nubian men solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in organizing a community event and establishing a community organization to represent them.

The 10 Egyptian Nubian men must be released immediately, and all charges brought against them dropped.

Diana Semaan, Amnesty International

“These men should never have been arrested in the first place, let alone tried by the Specialized Criminal Court, the notorious counter-terrorism court. The 10 Egyptian Nubian men must be released immediately, and all charges brought against them dropped. Some of them are older people and suffer from health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Saudi authorities must ensure that they have full access to medical care pending their release.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities must end this travesty of justice. Authorities must also end their criminalization of free speech and the right to peaceful association, including by ethnic minorities such as the Nubian community in Saudi Arabia. The 10 men are long-term residents of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi authorities must respect their basic human right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

Background

The 10 men were first arrested on the morning of an event they had planned on 25 October 2019 to mark the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. On 25 December 2019, the men were released without charge and placed on a travel ban list pending resumption of the case. They were then re-arrested in July 2020 and detained incommunicado with no access to their lawyers or family members for the first two months of their detention.

The 10 detained Egyptian Nubian men are: Adel Ibrahim Faqir, Dr. Farjallah Ahmed Youssef, Jamal Abdullah Masri, Mohamed Fathallah Gomaa, Sayyed Hashem Shater, Ali Gomaa Ali Bahr, Saleh Gomaa Ahmed, Abdulsalam Gomaa Ali Bahr, Abdullah Gomaa Ali and Wael Ahmed Hassan Ishaq. All of the men are members of informal Nubian community associations.

They attended their first hearing before the Specialized Criminal Court on 10 November 2021, where they met their lawyer for the first time in almost 16 months. According to one of the men’s relatives, they were charged with establishing an association without a license, showing solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood and posting on social media.

At the second hearing, which took place on 24 January 2022, the defence statement included allegations that the confessions provided by the men were extracted under coercion. The prosecution objected to this paragraph and the judge ordered the defence lawyer to amend it.

The upcoming hearing before the SCC is in Riyadh on 31 August 2022.

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