Date: 14 Muharram 1444   Thursday 11 August 2022

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The hoped-for pardon for prisoners of conscience in the Gulf States

08:22 31 March 2021 Author :  


The Gulf reconciliation that took place at the forty-first Gulf Summit, on January 5, 2021 AD, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, opened hope for the Gulf authorities to move towards giving priority to amnesty and tolerance for prisoners of opinion and political prisoners in the Gulf states.

The movements, since 2011, have affected the course of transformations in the region, and the changes that resulted from the Arab revolutions, and then the suppression of these revolutions, have had a wide impact on the political system in the Gulf States. This was accompanied by political reform movements, speeches of opinion, and calls for political reform. The response of the Gulf authorities was to restrict all public freedoms in the Gulf States. This led to the imprisonment of hundreds of political activists, opinion writers, and political and religious figures. The International Center for Political and Criminal Research said that Bahrain ranked first in the Arab world in the number of prisoners. It reached about 4,000 people, at a rate of 301 per 100,000. The number of prisoners in Saudi Arabia is 47 thousand prisoners. In November 2020, the statistics of the International Center for Prison Studies showed that Bahrain, the Zionist entity, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia occupy the four ranks in the Middle East region in terms of the number of prisoners compared to the total number of population.  

Kuwait ranked eighth (92 prisoners), Qatar ranked eleventh (53 prisoners), and Oman ranked twelfth (36 prisoners).

Regardless of the nature of the cases for which these people were imprisoned, some of them  are reformist, politicians and opinion holders.

On the other hand, and with the spread of the Corona virus in many countries, human rights bodies demanded the release of prisoners for fear of being infected with the virus that leads to death in light of the lack of treatment or anti-epidemics.

Some Gulf countries have resorted to releasing prisoners, for example; It was announced that 268 prisoners in Kuwait were infected with the Corona virus (June 11, 2020).

Human rights groups, including "Human Rights Watch", called on the Gulf States to disclose Corona virus infections and to release infected prisoners. In a statement issued on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 AD, the organization said: “The prison authorities in the UAE should take emergency measures to protect the mental and physical health of prisoners, amid reports of the outbreak of Corona in at least 3 detention centers in the country.”

Other organizations, such as Amnesty International, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights and the Gulf states, have called for attention to the mental, mental and physical health of prisoners. They also called for their release and the provision of health care for them, which prompted the Gulf authorities to respond to these reports, explaining that they seek to preserve the lives of prisoners and provide the required care.

Although civil liberties such as freedom of expression face persistent restrictions in the Gulf States, there is an emphasis on censoring social media. As Gulf societies are humane societies, and it is normal for them to be affected and developed for the better, Gulf societies developed financially, institutionally and socially, and most of them moved from a state of nomadism to a state of stability, development, interest in education and the spread of civil culture. This is a natural progression for societies. With this development, it is only natural that the political culture of Gulf societies will evolve. The democratic experiences in some Gulf countries constituted a state of political development, and had a reflection on the rest of the Gulf States. The reform movements carried out by cultural or political groups are a natural result of this societal and global development. Therefore, the increased fear of democracy and freedom of expression is unjustified, let alone a dispute that ends with imprisonment for opponents. As long as political expression and behavior remain peaceful, extremism in confronting them with harsh sentences and imprisonment only because, they ask for the development of their Gulf societies.

There are social, historical and humanitarian reasons that make us call on the Gulf authorities to release conscience, political and social reform prisoners:

- The national history of the political work of the Islamic national forces in some Gulf countries has proven in more than one stage that they adhere to the national situation and the foundations of the state, the constitution and the homeland. The opposition and political reform forces were born of their environment, and they were the creation of these groups and formed from the national agenda.

- However, these opposition or reform forces in Gulf society are soft powers that use constitutional and political relations and tools and direct communicative relations with the ruler or the authority in all their tracks, and do not use violence or extremism against the State.

- More importantly, these forces and groups have recognized the legitimacy of the rule, its responsibility and authority, and have supported the ruler and the State in all its stages,   in internal and external crises.

- Returning these groups to their legal and natural status in society will contribute to the cohesion and unity of the Gulf society. It will also lead to standing united with the State against the dangers, regional challenges and international pressures, especially those who exploit this situation and these conditions for their interests, and then transfer those humanitarian files to the international arena and keep them in constant heat.

The principle of forgiveness is a divine principle. Allah said, “If [instead] you show [some] good or conceal it or pardon an offense - indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Competent.” (Anesaa 149) Allah also said, recommending his Prophet and every responsible person, “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Al-Imran: 159). Allah almighty said, “And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation - his reward is [due] from Allah. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers.” ((Ash-Shura: 40))

Wise rulers Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “You must be patient and tolerant until you get the opportunity. When you become strong and get the opportunity, then you should forgive. » Al-Ahnaf bin Qais, May Allah have mercy on him, says: “Beware of the opinion of miscreants who consider forgiveness disgrace.

Our Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, is an example for every Muslim ruler to emulate his action, pardoning his people who harmed him, fought him, expelled him and forsook him. Moreover, after Allah enabled him to conquer Mecca, he said to them: "Go, you are free.”

The restoration of the unity of the Gulf society and the healing of its unity is a task that will be completed with the release of the political prisoners and the prisoners of conscience. Is the Gulf reconciliation step a starting point for the beginning of a phase of Gulf reconciliation with the forces of reform and opinion in our Gulf States? There is great hope in Allah to close this file to become a thing from the past.

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