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Saudis Celebrate Four Years of ACPRA, Their Defiant Human Rights Organization

On October 12, 2009, 11 Saudi activists announced the establishment of an independent human rights organization, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). Four years on, Saudis celebrate its achievements.

In their Establishing Declaration, ACPRA members stated:

Why ACPRA?
1. In Saudi Arabia there are serious violations of fundamental human rights, in general, and political rights in particular. Unfortunately there has been a dramatic increase in serious human rights abuses since the Gulf war (i.e., 1990) since people have become aware of their basic rights. However, the government has increased its oppressive measures by arresting thousands of young citizens after stifling other peaceful initiatives…

Since its establishment, ACPRA has worked closely with families of the arbitrarily detained, documenting their cases, encouraging them to step up and sue the Interior Ministry and submitting their cases to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which has released many decisions against the Saudi government.

Establishing independent civil society organizations is prohibited in the absolute monarchy: its website, as well as its mirror websites, have always been blocked, members have been prosecuted, banned from travel and arrested and, in March, the association itself was dissolved by a court order.

Saudi Twitter users celebrated ACPRA's fourth anniversary. Dr. Madawi al-Rasheed tweeted [ar]:

We will never forget you because you have given an example of being free, and you paid a very dear price for it. You taught a new generation the meaning of challenge and struggle in a civilized manner.

Commenting on the postponement of the Civil Society Act, which was drafted in 2007 and was supposed to guarantee the freedom to establish independent assemblies, columnist Fayed al-Olaiwi tweeted:

The government believes that by postponing the Civil Society Act peaceful activism would stop, but there will always be those who are willing to sacrifice, like ACPRA.

All ACPRA members who have been tried were charged with “insulting the judiciary.” Commenting on that, Saudi Twitter User Rana al-Mukibl tweeted:

When those who call for the integrity and independence of the judiciary are arrested, the foolish has confirmed these charges against their nasty judiciary.

Blogger Hadeel Mohammad remembered ACPRA's demand to remove and prosecute Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud:

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