*An Open Letter*
1. Your friend is the one who speaks to you honestly. A rational person
values the truth, regardless of who speaks it. We are speaking about the
nation we love and whose future we are all equally concerned about.
2. We must preserve the gains we have made. Our shared geography should
encourage us to work for reform. The alternative is chaos, disintegration,
3. People here are the same as they are everywhere else in the world. They
have their ambitions, their demands, and their rights. They will not remain
silent forever if some or all of these things are constantly denied to them.
4. Negative feelings have been accumulating for a long time. I draw what I
am saying from numerous people hailing from all sectors and regions of our
5. When people cease being afraid, you can expect them to do anything, and
if their anger gets to a critical point, then nothing will be able to
6. When tempers are high, religious, political, and cultural symbols lose
their value. The mob in the street takes control.
7. Rising security concerns subject most of the nation’s energies to the
demands of a security-centered vision.
8. Every possible suspect has been put in prison. There has been ample
opportunity to release the suspects who are innocent, but this has not
9. The prison system has not exhibited any strategic thinking. As a
consequence, hatred, vengefulness, and militancy have become rife in our
10. I support the prisoners, though many of them are dissatisfied with me.
Some who have been released have been vociferous in their attacks on me.
Nevertheless, it is my duty to come to their defense. Human rights are not
limited to those who agree with us.
11. Many members of the royal family are dissatisfied with how our prisons
are being managed. This is clear to me from Twitter, from discussions, and
from first-hand knowledge.
12. Most of those who, decades ago, were sentenced to dozens of years in
prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the Saudi government were pardoned
and released after only a few years.
13. There are no clear regulations and institutions to normalize how
prisoners are treated. Everything is decided on a case-by-case basis on the
strength of a detective’s report.
14. The recent burning of officials’ pictures is a symbolic act that should
give us some pause to think. What got it started? Where is this all going?
15. The Bureau of Investigation has complete control over surveillance,
arrests, searches, judicial procedures, and sentencing. This causes the
denial of a lot of human rights.
16. When a police officer mistreats a prisoner, he is gambling with the
17. Disturbing humanitarian and health conditions have been ignored for so
long that they have become complicated and difficult to resolve, and this
may be what has motivated some women to act.
18. Official spokesmen express their distress at what is going on. Theirs
are voices from the past. Their words have no attraction. They are
unconvincing and ineffectual.
19. The security brigade on Twitter and the quasi-governmental news
channels label every sincere advisor as a “provocateur” and every caller to
reform as “self-serving”. Nevertheless, public awareness is growing more
20. People need to hear news coverage and field reports about the prisons
from those who are unaffiliated with the security apparatus. It is wrong
that the security interests get to play both judge and jury.
21. Blackmailing citizens by mentioning our nation’s “martyrs” is to sell
the blood of our national heroes cheaply (may God have mercy on them). We
all support those men, but we also call for releasing the innocent from
22. When people lose faith in their national security agencies, it is not
possible for them to take those agencies as a reliable source of
23. Pushing for third parties is not a solution. The fact is that the
opponents are trying to exploit internal conditions whose causes cannot be
24. There is smoke and dust on the horizon. We are justified in worrying
about what lies beyond. If the security agencies tighten their grip, it
will only worsen the quagmire we are in and cut off all hope of reform.
25. After waiting so long, tell us what will reassure us that a new era has
begun. Placate our cynicism by surprising us with positive and unexpected
26. When the doors are locked, those who are desperate will stop weighing
the pros and cons of their actions. Where will they go when those who have
tried the open doors have been arrested?
27. Is the Interior Ministry working as hard to find ways to guarantee and
secure the release of the detainees as it did to arrest them in the first
28. This file should be closed. No one should be left in detention except
for those who have clear and legitimate evidence brought against them. This
should be declared immediately.
29. I have been briefed on circumstances where prisoners have suffered
serious injustices. These include cases of death, physical and
psychological abuse, obstruction of release orders, and ignoring judicial
verdicts. We have not been provided with any clarification of these matters.
30. Fearing how a prisoner will behave after being released is no excuse to
dispense with the rule of law. It is not right to punish thousands of
people due to the possibility that a few of them might engage in acts of
31. Measures must be taken to secure the release of the detainees from the
Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASM) and the Jeddah reformers.
Their rights need to be upheld for the sake of social cohesion, human
rights, and God’s mercy.
32. It is dangerous to restrict people to the point that they feel they
have nothing more to lose.
33. A citizen’s rights are legitimate and inalienable. They are not a
34. Transparency is needed in arrests. Investigations are needed regarding
judicial proceedings, the ways judges are influenced, and interference in
judicial appointments that affect the justice of the judicial system.
35. It is unreasonable to have investigations and prosecutions carried out
by the Interior Ministry, whereas in other countries these procedures are
carried out independently or under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice.
36. There have been real infringements of justice in the treatment of
prisoners. This needs to be investigated in earnest and the perpetrators
need to be punished. Procedures must be put in place to ensure that such
infringements are never repeated.
37. Responding to the legitimate demands of the people is not a weakness.
38. Those who are released should have all their rights restored in full.
They should be allowed to conduct their lives with dignity, so we can help
them to get beyond the past.
39. Causes of societal distress include: financial and administrative
corruption, unemployment, inadequate housing, poverty, substandard
healthcare and education, and dim prospects for political reform.
40. It is impossible to maintain the status quo. The real question is:
Where are we headed?
41. People are worried about the future. They have many questions and they
are not getting answers. It should therefore be of no surprise that wealth
is flowing out of the country more and more, and maybe our businessmen will
42. Like it or not, we are all in the same boat. We must work together to
keep it afloat. If the cure is accompanied by a bitter taste, then we must
just learn to swallow it and get past it.
43. It is the government’s job to regulate business, not to obstruct it.
Preventing opportunities for organizational activities, volunteer efforts,
and charitable work will destroy civil society.
44. How can a country that relies upon personal connections instead of
institutions ever hope to face real challenges?
45. The people – especially our young people – are asking: Where are the
channels of communication between us and our leaders?
46. Many citizens fear anarchy and lawlessness. If their fears are to be
placated, they need to see a realistic program of reform – and they need to
be allowed to participate in it.
47. Rational people do not want to see a spark turn into a raging blaze
that burns their country down. They do not want violence to become the mode
48. When revolutions are suppressed, they turn into armed conflicts. If
they are ignored, they grow in reach and in breadth. The only solution is
to take wise and timely decisions before violence is kindled.
49. The chance to do things right might not come again. Things done too
late lose their effectiveness. Time is a double-edged sword. It can work
for you or against you.
50. God knows that from my heart I do not intend to deceive anyone. Any
abuse I may have received from any party is forgiven. I have nothing but
goodwill for this country, its leaders, and its subjects.