"Ministry of the Interior, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia" by Jon Rawlinson / CC BY 2.0

Saudi Arabia: Yemeni Blogger Convicted for Supporting LGBT Rights

Jul 29, 2020

By Human Rights Watch

Saudi court sentenced a Yemeni blogger to jail and then deportation to Yemen for a social media post supporting equal rights for all in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said today. After a trial in which he was provided no counsel, Mohamad al-Bokari, a Yemeni living in Riyadh, was sentenced on July 20, 2020 to 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals (US$2,700). Al-Bokari has 30 days to appeal.

The authorities arrested al-Bokari, 29, on April 8 for posting a video on social media calling for equal rights, including for gay people. He had fled Yemen in June 2019 after Yemeni armed groups threatened to kill him and has since been living in Saudi Arabia as an undocumented migrant. A source in contact with al-Bokari told Human Rights Watch that before his trial, he was held in solitary confinement for six weeks in al-Malaz prison in Riyadh, in a hot and humid cell with no windows, no air-conditioning, and insufficient ventilation.

“Saudi Arabia’s public relations campaigns tout the kingdom’s ‘progress,’ but the court’s jail sentence for peaceful speech and then deportation to Yemen where the defendant’s life is at risk shows how hollow these claims are,” said Rasha Younes, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia should match rhetoric with reality and drop the case and the deportation against al-Bokari immediately.”

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