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Disparaging References to Shia, Sufi Practices Remain Despite Progress

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to purge its school religion textbooks of hateful and intolerant language, but the current texts maintain language that disparages practices associated with religious minorities, Human Rights Watch…
Then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony at King Faisal Air College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 25, 2017. © 2017 Reuters
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New Human Rights Watch Campaign Against Whitewashing Rights Violations

(Beirut) – The Saudi government has spent billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator, Human Rights Watch said today.…
Nicki Minaj
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Safety Concerns for Activists, Ex-Crown Prince, Cleric

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia has denied some prominent detainees contact with their family members and lawyers for months, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter requesting access to the country and private prison visits with detainees. The situation…
Prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul had been on hunger strike for six days before Saudi authorities finally allowed her parents to visit on August 31, according to family members. Al-Hathloul had spent almost three months before that in incommunicado detention.
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Previous Campaign Marred by Lack of Due Process, Torture Allegations

  (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s new mass arrest of 298 government employees on suspicion of corruption raises human rights concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi…
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during Janadriyah Cultural Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 12, 2018.
News

Positive Reforms for Women Tainted by Ongoing Arrests of Activists, Dissidents

(Beirut) – Saudi authorities carried out a sweeping campaign of repression against independent dissidents and activists, including two waves of mass arrests, in 2019, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020.    The arrests and…
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during Janadriyah Cultural Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 12, 2018.
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Arrests, Torture, Murder Accompany Reforms

(Washington, DC) – Important social reforms enacted under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report…
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Trafficking, Exploitation, Torture, Abusive Prison Conditions

(Addis Ababa) – Ethiopians undertaking the perilous journey by boat across the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden face exploitation and torture in Yemen by a network of trafficking groups, Human Rights Watch said today. They also encounter abusive prison…
African migrants receive food and water inside a football stadium in the Red Sea port city of Aden in Yemen, on April 23, 2019. © AFP/Getty Images
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Criticized ‘Extremism’ in School Curriculum

(Beirut) – Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a Saudi religious reformist thinker on a host of vague charges relating to his peaceful religious ideas, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi authorities arrested Hassan…
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Alleged Forced Confession for Supporting Protests

(Beirut) – Saudi authorities are seeking to lengthen the prison sentence of a cleric known for supporting protests against the systematic discrimination of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority, Human Rights Watch said today. The…
Sheikh Mohammad Hassan al-Habib
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World Leaders, Journalists Should Demand Accounting for Rights Abuses

  (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s admission that government representatives killed Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018 has sparked intensified and overdue scrutiny of the country’s human…
 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
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Pervasive Discrimination Against Shia Persists

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has recently made moves likely to appeal to the country’s Shia minority. This includes neutering the country’s once-powerful religious establishment, which has spewed anti-Shia vitriol and…
Illustration of a sword made out of writing © 2017 Adam Maida for Human Rights Watch
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Superficial reforms leave religious minorities behind—and that's dangerous

After generating some positive press earlier this summer by lifting the ban on women driving, Saudi Arabia is once more the target of reproach. In August, the country’s notorious terrorism court sought the death penalty against Israa al…
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Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
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Regional Leaders Should End Repressive Policies

(Berlin) – Political leaders in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan should use the window of opportunity offered by political change in their countries to improve human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2018. Leaders of…
People attend the opening ceremony of the new Belarussian-built potash plant in Garlyk, Turkmenistan March 31, 2017.
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Textbooks Disparage Sufi, Shia; Label Jews, Christians ‘Unbelievers’

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s school religious studies curriculum contains hateful and incendiary language toward religions and Islamic traditions that do not adhere to its interpretation of Sunni Islam, Human Rights Watch said today. The texts disparage Sufi…
Ministry of Education, Al-Tawhid, Student Book, Secondary Semester Program, Level Three, 2016-17, p. 104
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Awamiya Residents Caught in Crossfire, Lack Essential Services

(Beirut) – Saudi security forces have surrounded and sealed off the predominantly Shia town of Awamiya in July 2017 as they confronted an armed group hiding in a historic neighborhood slated for demolition, Human Rights Watch said today. The…
Remains of cars and buildings are seen following a security campaign against Shi'ite Muslim gunmen in the town of Awamiya, in the eastern governorate of Qatif, August 9, 2017.
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Leading Bahraini Rights Activist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

(Beirut) – Gulf governments have sustained their campaigns to silence peaceful critics during the first half of 2017, Human Rights Watch said today, updating an interactive website, created in November 2016, featuring targeted human rights activists. On…
Portraits of online activists in Gulf states.
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Resolve ‘Disappearances’, Grant Access to Detention Sites

(Beirut) – The UAE supports Yemeni forces that have arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and abused dozens of people during security operations, Human Rights Watch said today. The UAE finances, arms, and trains these forces, which…
Hadrami elite forces guard Mukalla from Al-Qaeda by creating check-points.
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UN Envoy Criticizes Abuses Following Visit

(Beirut) – A United Nations official who recently visited Saudi Arabia has criticized the country’s use of its terrorism tribunal and counterterrorism law to unjustly prosecute human rights defenders, writers, and peaceful critics, Human Rights Watch said…
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 21, 2016.
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Ongoing Repression of Peaceful Reformers

(Beirut) – Saudi authorities have arrested two independent human rights advocates, most likely because of their peaceful activities, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests of Essam Koshak, 45, and Ahmed al-Musheikhis, 46, are the latest in Saudi…