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Saudi Arabia: Trial Challenged by Prominent Human Rights Reformists

Saudi prominent human rights defenders and reformists Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid, whose long human rights advocacy records include taking part in founding the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, had the second hearing of their trials at Riyadh Criminal Court earlier today, September 1. The first hearing sessions of both of their trials were held separately last June, when the judge decided that the second hearing sessions for both of them would be held at the same time.

The charges against al-Hamid include:

الدعوة والتحريض على مخالفة النظام، وإشاعة الفوضى، والإخلال بالأمن والطمأنينة العامة، من خلال إعداد وصياغة ونشر بيان يدعو إلى التظاهر في الميادين العامة [...]
Calling for and inciting to break the law, spread chaos and disturb public tranquility and safety by writing and publishing a statement that calls for protesting in public squares [...]
صف نظام الحكم السعودي – ظلماً وتعدياً – بأنه نظام بوليسي يقوم على الجور والقمع ويتبرقع بالدين واستخدام القضاء لتقنين الظلم من أجل استمرار الفتك المنهجي بحقوق الإنسان.
Unjustifiably calling the Saudi ruling regime a police regime that was established upon injustice and suppression and that misuses religion to justify injustice and to continue human rights violations.

Abdullah al-Hamad sat on the floor after the court room got full of attendees via @abdulrhmansh

A few days ago, al-Hamid called upon people to attend the hearing session and many reformist figures did.

Saudi journalist and publisher Nawaf al-Qudaimi was among those who attended and he tweeted:

عبدالله الحامد يحول المحاكمة إلى درس للتاريخ والقضاء حول حقوق المتهم وأصول العدالة الشرعية [...]
@Alqudaimi: Abdullah al-Hamid turned the hearing session today into a lecture about the rights of the accused and the principles of justice. It will go down in history [...]

Saudi journalist and human rights defender Iman al-Qahtani was also among the attendees. She was live-tweeting from the session:

الحامد مخاطبا القاضي أين أنتم من ضحايا الاعتقال التعسفي والتعذيب وهم يريدون ضرب حسم بسبب رصدنا المضطهدين #محاكمة_الحامد_والقحطاني
@ImaQh: al-Hamid said to the judge: Why don't you deal with the victims of arbitrary detention and torture? They want to destroy [the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association] because we are keeping records of those victims.

The judge decided to hold the next session tomorrow, September 2, but it will not be public:

لا تظنوا ان المحاكمة علنية بل من حضر دخل بدون استئذان والقاضي أصر علي عدم حضورنا غداً #محاكمة_الحامد_والقحطاني
@ImaQh: No, the hearing session was not public. Those who attended [today] got in without asking the judge for permission and he insisted that we will not be allowed in tomorrow.

Saudi famous blogger Fouad al-Fahran expressed his support by tweeting:

مجرد يوم عادي آخر في حياة د. أبو بلال و د. القحطاني.. يوم تاريخي لنا #محاكمة_الحامد_والقحطاني
@alfarhan: Just another day in Dr. al-Hamid's and Dr. al-Qahtani's lives. A historical day for [the rest of] us!

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