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:
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]:
#acpra4years لن ننساكم لانكم سطرتم حروف الحرية ودفعتم ثمنا غاليا وعلمتم جيلا جديدا معنى التحدي والمقاومة باسلوب حضاري
— Dr Madawi Al-Rasheed (@MadawiDr) October 12, 2013
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:
الحكومة تعتقد بتأخيرها لقانون الجمعيات ومؤسسات المجتمع المدني أنها ستوقف الحراك السلمي،لكن هناك من هم مستعدين للتضحية كحسم #acpra4years
— فايد العليوي (@fayedalolaiwi) October 13, 2013
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:
حينما يُعتقل من يطالب بنزاهة القضاء واستقلاله ، تأكد يا عزيزي بأن الأحمق الصق التهمة على قضاءه العفن ! #acpra4years
— رنا المقبل (@Rana_Mok) October 12, 2013
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:
ACPRA broke many barriers in this country. Demanding the removal of an Al-Saud? That was, still is to some, considered suicide #acpra4years
— هديل محمّد (@_TheHadeel) October 12, 2013