(Dammam – Aafaq ) - In a first, unprecedented, case of its kind, Saudi activist and defender of human rights and women's rights Sheikh Mekhlef bin Daham Alshammary is filing a legal complaint with the Saudi Board of Grievances (Diwan Al-Mazalim) against the government of the Eastern Region, and is demanding material and moral compensation for what he suffered when imprisoned for more than four months earlier this year in a Saudi security prison because of his refusal to sign a pledge agreeing to close down the council of the Shammar tribe in the Eastern Region. [Full Storey in Arabic]
The “Diwan al-Malazim” or Board of Grievances is an administrative court at the level of the Kingdom that has jurisdiction over a range of issues, including disputes with governmental bodies.
Observers believe that Alshammary’s suit against the government of the Eastern Region will place the issue of reform, transparency and the protection of freedoms under the microscope, as it will put the Board of Grievances to a real test of its significance in advancing the reforms in Saudi Arabia that are being led and supported by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Sources close to Sheikh Alshammary report that he was very offended and indignant at the way he was treated: he was thrown into prison without guilt, his children were terrified, investigation teams disrupted the contents of his office, and many of his private documents have disappeared. The sources add that Sheikh Alshammary protested, "I am not a terrorist or the member of a deviant group with deviant ideology. And there are many family and tribal councils in Saudi Arabia.”
Alshammary accuses Sunni hard-liners of being behind his imprisonment, because of his critcism of Sunni hard-line extremism, his battling the Sunni extremists who impugn the Islamic bona fides of the Shi'ites, and his demand for equality between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the Kingdom.
Saudi Authorities Release Sheikh Mekhlef Alshammary
After Four Months in Prison
Sheikh Mekhlef bin Daham Alshammary
(Riyadh – Aafaq - 25/5/2007)- Saudi authorities have released Sheikh Mekhlef bin Daham Alshammary, one of the sheikhs of the Shammar tribe in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, who was arrested last February for refusing to close down the Shammar tribal council. He was released late Wednesday evening (May 23), after more than four months in prison.
The government of the Eastern Region had summoned Sheikh Alshammary on Monday, February 5, as part of its offensive against cultural clubs and councils in the province, and ordered him to sign a pledge to close the council of the Shammar tribe. When he refused, he was arrested and taken to the headquarters of the General Security Department in Dammam and put in prison, where he remained until now.
Sheikh Alshammary is an active and distinguished participant in civil society. He has written and published criticisms of the hard-line views enforced by the Saudi state and of prominent figures in the Saudi religious establishment. He is a founder of the Saudi “Friends of the Environment.” He has a wide network of relationships across the region. And he has written for Aafaq.
Last December, before his arrest and imprisonment, governmental authorities in the Eastern Region summoned Alshammary and warned him in strong language not to continue building relationships across the spectra of Saudi society, and also warned him against writing criticism of official hard-line religious tendencies.
And, they warned him against undertaking any correspondence with Shi'ite citizens, on the grounds that it is “against the ‘tendency’ and interests of the Saudi state.”