Egypt: Immediately release ten Nubians arbitrarily detained in Saudi Arabia for over two years and suspend their trial

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

In the days before the slated 31 August sentencing of ten Egyptian Nubians detained in Saudi Arabia now for over two years, the undersigned rights organizations call for their immediate and unconditional release and a suspension of the trial, which has not met minimum guarantees of a fair trial. The ten Egyptian citizens are being tried before an exceptional terrorism court, simply for exercising their legitimate right to join an independent Nubian association and holding a Nubian commemoration of the October War. We again condemn the Egyptian consulate in Riyadh and the Egyptian government for their failure to directly intervene to secure the Egyptians’ release or even offer legal assistance to them.

The Specialized Summary Court for Terrorism Cases concluded the trial, which began in November 2021, in its 14 June hearing, adjourning for a judgment on 31 August. During the trial, the defendants were denied the right to choose an attorney. The court appointed a defense lawyer for them, who affirmed that their confessions were extracted under duress. Nevertheless,  the court disregarded the statement and continued to hear the case.

According to the detainees’ families, the ten men are facing terrorism-related charges and a charge of organizing an assembly without a permit. There are grave concerns that the court, known for handing down exceedingly unjust judgments, will sentence the defendants to several years in prison.

In the over two years that they have been detained, the Egyptians have been endured ill treatment and have been denied visitation and correspondence rights. When their families reached out to Egyptian government officials, including the former minister of migration, the deputy foreign minister, the National Human Rights Council, and the Cabinet, they were assured that the officials were aware of and following the case. But no official has intervened in any concrete way, and the Egyptian consulate in Riyadh explicitly washed its hands of responsibility for the detained Egyptians.

The ten citizens hail from various Nubian villages in Egypt. Some of them are over the age of 65 and most of them suffer from chronic illnesses that require regular medical care. They are all members of independent Nubian associations in Saudi Arabia, established years ago to foster contact and communal ties between Nubians in Saudi Arabia. The associations do not engage in any political or partisan activity.

We reaffirm our call on the Saudi authorities to immediately release the detainees and we denounce in the harshest terms the denial of the Egyptian citizens’ right to a fair trial and their prosecution in an exceptional court that does not provide minimum due process guarantees. We condemn their continued arbitrary detention, now in its third year absent any investigation, and hold the Saudi authorities wholly responsible for their safety and lives. We similarly condemn the neglect of the Egyptian authorities, which is an extension of their repressive practices against Nubian minorities at home.

Signatory organizations

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  3. Committee for Justice
  4. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  5. El Nadim Center
  6. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  7. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  8. The Freedom Initiative

Background

The case began on 25 October 2019 when a group of Nubian associations in Saudi Arabia organized a celebration to commemorate the Nubian heroes of the October War of 1973. The Saudi authorities arrested and detained some of the organizers, while others were questioned but not detained. During the interrogation, they were asked why a photo of current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was not displayed at the event; the president did not participate in the war, and only war heroes from Nubian villages were honored for their service. Two months later, the Saudi authorities released the arrestees, but banned them from travel. Later, however, on 14 and 15 July 2020, the authorities again arrested and detained them without an investigation in the Asir Prison in Abha. The Saudi authorities did not allow them to communicate with their families or choose a lawyer to defend them. The detainees were later permitted a weekly phone call to their families.

The ten Nubians were accused of terrorism-related charges and organizing an assembly without a permit. More than a year after their arrest, they were referred to trial before the Specialized Summary Court for Terrorism Cases, which, according to Amnesty International, is an exceptional court known for its harsh sentences, up to and including the death penalty; the court typically relies on confessions gained under torture or duress.

The ten citizens hail from various Nubian villages in Egypt. Some of them are over the age of 65 and most of them suffer from chronic illnesses that require regular medical care. They are all members of independent Nubian associations in Saudi Arabia, established years ago to foster contact and communal ties between Nubians in Saudi Arabia. The associations do not engage in any political or partisan activity.

List of the ten Nubian Egyptians awaiting judgment on 31 August 2022

  1. Adel Sayyid Ibrahim, 65, the current head of the Nubian Family in Riyadh, from the village of Balana in southern Egypt. He has worked as an accountant in Saudi Arabia since 1978; he suffers from diabetes and requires regular medical attention.
  2. Dr. Faragallah Ahmed Youssef, 64, the former head of the Nubian expatriate community in Riyadh. He has a PhD in Islamic antiquities from the Faculty of Antiquities at Cairo University. He suffers from diabetes and has had serious complications that required surgery on his foot; he also previously had a stroke.
  3. Wael Ahmed Hassan, 54, a member of the Tomas Village Nubian Association in Riyadh and a journalist at the Saudi Yamama institution. He was questioned in 2019 about the celebration and was not initially arrested, but was prohibited from travel. He was arrested on 15 July 2020 with others and referred to trial.
  4. Abdullah Gomaa Ali Bahr, 43, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.
  5. Saleh Gomaa Ahmed, 40, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.
  6. Mohammed Fathallah Gomaa, 37, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh; he works as an information technology engineer.
  7. Ali Gomaa Ali Bahr, 37, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.
  8. Gamal Abdullah al-Masri, head of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.
  9. Hisham Shater, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.
  10. Abd al-Salam Gomaa Ali, a member of the Dahmit Village Nubian Association in Riyadh.

This post is also available in: العربية

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