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Saudi activist Abdullah al-Hamid dies in detention after being denied heart surgery

Saudi activist Abdullah al-Hamid died in detention [Wiki]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2020

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Saudi dissident Abdullah Al-Hamid died on April 24 after being denied medical attention by prison authorities.

Saudi dissident and human rights activist Abdullah al-Hamid, 69, has been reported dead after being denied medical treatment in detention.

According to Amnesty International, Al-Hamid died on April 24 after having a stroke and entering a coma on April 9.

Arrested with pre-existing health conditions, Al-Hamid was declined medical treatment by prison authorities even though he was given medical advice to get heart surgery in January as his health declined.

He was threatened into silence by prison authorities and was told he would be prevented from seeing his family if he told his relatives about his declining health, Amnesty said.

His death is being mourned as yet another tragedy in Saudi prisons, where dissidents are subjected to brutal torture.

"He was very brave and bold," said Adam Coogle, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

Despite Al-Hamid’s death, Coogle said that the movement for intellectual freedom in Saudi Arabia will continue.

"It is bleak right now, but I wouldn't say the movement it inspired is dead. You can suppress these things, but it is difficult to eradicate ideas."

Al-Hamid was a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and was sentenced to 11 years in jail in March 2013, campaigners said.

He was convicted on multiple charges, including "breaking allegiance" to the Saudi ruler, "inciting disorder" and seeking to disrupt state security, Amnesty International said.

Criticism of Saudi Arabia's human rights record has grown since King Salman named his son Prince Mohammed the heir to the throne in June 2017.

The October 2018 murder of vocal critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the increased repression of dissidents at home have overshadowed Prince Mohammed's pledge to modernise the economy and society.

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