Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) Condemns in the strongest possible terms the Arbitrary Arrest of the team behind “Mal3ob3lena” (We are being cheated) show on YouTube: Feras Baqna, Hussam al-Drewesh, and Khaled al-Rasheed.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) condemns the arbitrary arrest of great young Saudi men (Feras Baqna, Hussam al-Drewesh, and Khaled al-Rasheed) the team directing and producing the “Mal3ob3lena” show, which airs its short films on YouTube. A few days ago, this show aired a short film on poverty in Saudi Arabia and was filmed in Al-Jaradeya, a poor neighborhood in Riyadh. The film contained realistic scenes, interviews, and comments that are all considered familiar to the majority of Saudi society. The Saudi government itself has acknowledged the poverty issue we’re facing, and a few years ago King Abdullah himself, may he have good health, visited the neighborhood not far from the one in which “Mal3ob3lena” was filming. Why the sudden sensitivity from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) towards filming and airing a film on the problem of poverty by young Saudis on the Internet? It seems that MOI is trying to control the new internet media, and by arresting these great men MOI is attempting to intermediate other young Saudis not to undertake similar projects.
Instead of rewarding these great Saudi men for their moral efforts in shedding light on a noble cause like poverty and offering helpful solutions to solving it, the Ministry of Interior responded by summoning Feras Baqna, Hussam al-Drewesh, and Khaled al-Rasheed for investigation. This took place on Sunday, October 16, 2011, around 5 PM in Riyadh. The reason given for this was to ask some questions regarding the film and a release within 24 hours. However, up to the moment of issuing this statement, no such releasing of Feras Baqna, Hussam alDrewesh, and Khaled al-Rasheed has taken place. We are sure that they have been denied their right to a lawyer being present with them, neither has there been any charges issued against them. These Saudi men have been arbitrarily arrested; there is no legal justification for this. Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) demands the immediate release of Feras Baqna, Hussam al-Drewesh, and Khaleed al-Rasheed. We also demand an apology to be issued to these citizens and for those who carried out this arbitrary arrest to be reprimanded.
This arbitrary arrest seems to be part of a campaign the Ministry of Interior is waging against free speech, to put an end to all forms of peaceful expression. While the Ministry of Interior is able to question the nature of any film released on the Internet, it is hard to understand how a film on poverty in Saudi Arabia poses a national threat to the safety of the country and its citizens? Or is this arbitrary arrest an attempt by the Ministry of Interior to turn back the clock and hope activists remain silent rather than discuss prevalent issues in Saudi Arabia. This oppressive act happens at the height of the Arab Spring, when dictators who oppressed free men are being toppled, while the Ministry of Interior still seems to assume it will be successful in oppressing the freedoms of people forever. The youth of Saudi Arabia have taken it upon themselves to engage in healthy discourse on issues within their country, they are publically trying to create a better future for Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Interior ought to realize this before it is too late. Violators of Human Rights will one day be before a court that is independent and its legitimacy stems directly from the people. It is a moment they see as far off, but we see it ever near.
Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA)