We ask the authorities to stop their campaigns of repression against HRDs and civil society organisations
We, the human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa, and other colleagues gathered at the IFEX25 Conference in Montreal, Canada, held from June 12 to 16 2017, declare our full solidarity with human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in various countries of our region. They are detained solely due to their peaceful and legitimate activities in defending the rights of their citizens and the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of the press and other public freedoms, and we call for their immediate release.
We express our deep concern about the authorities’ use of travel bans as a tool for reprisals against the reliable work of our colleagues, including Gamal Eid and Nedal Al-Salman. We believe that the only objective of this arbitrary action is to isolate civil society organisations and their members from communicating with international mechanisms including the UN system, in order to cover up the massive violations of civil and human rights of citizens by the authorities. We also express our deep concern and condemnation of the use of anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws to target various activists, including independent journalists, bloggers and Internet activists.
The meeting noted that the close relationship between the governments of the region and the UK and the US has led to the security services being able to continue to carry out gross violations of human rights around the clock. While we hold the governments of the region responsible for the deterioration of our human rights situation, we call on the international mechanisms, especially the United Nations mechanisms, the EU and various governments that have wide influence in our region, especially the US and UK, to place human rights first in their foreign policy and take serious steps as soon as possible, to ensure that these governments respect human rights and fully recognise the civil and human rights of citizens. They must protect and support human rights defenders as they carry out their important work aimed at building free, independent and prosperous societies dominated by social justice where there is no place for repression, discrimination and withholding public freedoms.
The gathering urges the governments of the region to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release of Ahmed Mansour, Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken, Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansouri, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, Alaa Saif, Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, Dr. Mohammed Al Qahtani, Raif Badawi, Mariam Al-Otaibi, Khalil Ma’touq, Razan Zaitouneh, Bassel Khartabil, Yousef Al-Haj, Abdelkhaleq Amran, Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli and all other colleagues detained by the concerned governments or armed groups who are holding them;
- Abolish the travel ban imposed on Gamal Eid and Nedal Al-Salman in addition to other activists and stop retaliation against activists for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly;
- Ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of all detained human rights defenders and granting them their legitimate and unrestricted right to meet with their families and lawyers; and
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the region are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.