Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saudi-Arabia and Human Rights Violations

Today is the birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights! 
The President of the Human Rights Commission of Saudi-Arabia, Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban said in a statement today: "On the occasion of the World's Human Rights Day, the Kingdom continues to promote and protect the values and principles of human rights at all levels".

That is a pretty bold statement coming from the representative of a country that basically violates the majority of the articles in the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
There are 30 articles on the declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948. Here are the articles and some examples I added from recent news how human rights are violated in modern day Saudi-Arabia. Notice majority are concerning women.

Article 1.
  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.  Men and women are not born with equal rights in Saudi-Arabia. The woman's rights will mostly be dependent on her male relatives decisions.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.Race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national and social origin, property, and birth are all factors that determine the rights an individual has or does not have in Saudi-Arabia

Article 4.

Article 5.

Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. The Indonesian maid tortured by her employers received 670$ for damages while her Saudi employers were freed of all charges. 

Article 9.

Article 10.

Article 11.

  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. Earlier this year a Sri Lankan maid was sentenced to death by beheading after an arbitrary and unfair trial, she was not provided a translator or lawyers in court.

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice repeatedly violates this clause, the latest news of Hai'a members humiliating and falsely accusing a female neurologist of illegitimate relations at her workplace emerged. 
  •  religious police have known to physically assault citizens, even women. This woman was dragged out of the car, her veil ripped off by five members of Hai'a
Article 13.
  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Women are not allowed to drive and hence move freely.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. Women cannot leave the country without permission from their male guardian (mahram).

Article 15.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. Children born from Saudi women married to foreigners are not automatically granted nationality.

Article 16.

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. The only acceptable religion in the Kingdom is Islam, any form of practicing other religions is seen proselytizing and punishable by law. Some critics of the strict Wahabi version of Islam have been accused and sentenced to jail for "insulting Islam":

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. A Saudi man named Khaled Aljuhainy went missing after he talked to the press on the planned "Day of Rage", he was the only person to show up and speak out.

Article 20.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Any kind of public gatherings and assemblies are forbidden by law.

Article 21.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Saudi Arabia being an absolute monarchy, this is impossible. Most of the high ranking positions and ministries are occupied by royal family members.
  • (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. Women are not allowed to enter governmental offices, some have women's sections with very limited services.
  • (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures. The Only elections currently held in the Kingdom are the municipal elections which have been accused of being only cosmetic and not with real political influence. Women will be allowed to participate in the next round 2015.

Article 23.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Women cannot work without permission from their male guardians and even if they have permission their employment options are limited to a few fields.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Employees are paid according to their passport. For the same work an American will get paid 20,000 while an Asian colleague gets a mere 5000 for the exact same job.

Article 24.

  • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. Foreign domestic workers like maids and drivers have no set working hours, days off or holidays, it is up to the employer to decide. There is no law to ensure workers are treated fairly.

Article 25.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Saudi women cannot access medical services without the consent of their male guardians.

Article 26.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. Saudi women need the permission from their guardians to study.
That adds up to a whopping 20/30 violations. 
The President concluded that "the Kingdom will go ahead in the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia and by continuing to make regulations and laws that contribute to the achievement of justice, equality and the protection and preservation of human rights."

All of the articles of the declaration for human rights are in accordance with Islam.
 How come Saudi-Arabia's Sharia law is not??

Because it's the culture, not the religion that is violating these rights!


aNNiKa said...

Such an interesting post! Thank you for this "enlightment".. although it's actually very sad that this is the situation in such a (internationally) powerful country that Saudi Arabia is in today's world. I learnt a lot of new things! At least one could say things are getting better if women are going to be allowed to take part in the next municipal elections.. be it cosmetic or not.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog cause you write about positive and negative aspects of this country.
Anyway, reading this post made me sad. I knew about most of it, but having it in one place, point by point, is overwhelming.
I hope next year there will be at least one violation less on the list :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, it seems like just about all have been violated one way or another! O_o'
Lol, despite these massive problems, I would still like to visit Saudi one day, though I have no idea how I would. :/
Your blog is incredibly interesting!

Kristi Lonheim said...

I linked to this post here...

Thanks for taking the time for this post.

Layla said...

Annika-thanks for the comment! You're right things ARE getting better! Slowly, but there has been some progress and there are rumors of a minimum age for marriage law, which would be awesome advancement by Saudi terms!

Layla said...

Zuza-thanks for the positive comment, yes lets hope so and I'm sure there will be some improvements next year..

Layla said...

Mrs. L-thanks for the comment and linking :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! I found your blog by accident and fell in love immediately. I'm working with the UN on Human Rights issues and this was a refreshingly honest take on the situation. Warm regards from NYC.

Layla said...

Thank you anonymous above that's nice to hear :)

Anonymous said...

dear Laylah,
I am assuming that you want saudi arabia to be a better place.
Ok that it kind of you, but you should realize that we (saudis) take religion so seriously. So, if your advice is based on prophet Muhammed -sala Allah alihe wa salam- teachings it will have substential influnce.
this is all because if you want to influnce someone, you should know what do they think, and based on that you give the advice in the way that suites them and makes them comfortable.

Layla said...

Faisal-thanks for your comment! I do indeed realize that saudis take religion very seriously. However I disagree that the practices in this country are coming from religion. They come from patriarchal, tribal culture.

••❤MingMing❤•• said...

Wow! Amazing post! This is Arab tradition! And as Prophet saws said it the worst! And this article is the proof... women can't vote, it's like they are not citizens. Everything depends on their guardians like women are without souls. Creatures owned by men! Horrible. The racism among Saudis is awful. There is no sharia in Saudi Arabia. Islam made women free. Women were the first scholars thanks to Islam, the could study, they were made equal with men. Men are our partners, we are supposed to support each-other according to Islam not to enslave each-other. I bet our prophet would be devastated seeing this so called "SHAIRAH".
Thank God my father isnt's Saudi or my husband. I do not like when someone make decisions for me, I do like do vote - it is important, work ( halal)or just simply go for a walk to a park just alone to clear my mind and admire the beauty of nature that God created for us.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am a Muslim and I am ashamed of the place that is supposed to be the closest thing to Islam. Praying and fasting Ramadan is not enough to be a Muslim, It saddens me to be living in current times. Laylah, thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Layla, i think you forgot the most important one, that is the right TO LIVE ,,,,this means NO death penalty !!!!! More than two thirds of all the states abolishes already as it is inhuman. Think of more than 110 where released from deathrow in the states because they where innocent!!!! Once dead you can not turn it back... I remember this poor girl from Sri Lanka and the ridicules verdikts of witchcraft. The right of living is the most essantian one..The other right saudi arabia violates by using punishment like cutting of hands, feet etc.. This rights are very important, for a living in humanity greetings A

Layla said...

A-Saudi-Arabia does not use punishments such as cutting off hands, that is merely a rumor.
I agree that there should be a right to live..and many of the death sentences we hear of sound like they might not have been 100% fair trials..we will never know. Happens in USA as well, although here for sure much more.
Beheading someone for sorcery is ridiculous imho, it cannot be proven in any scientific way.