Saudi opposition party claims founding member murdered in southern Beirut suburbs

A Saudi opposition party says one of its founding members was killed on the outskirts of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, and two of his brothers were arrested in connection with the incident.

The National Assembly Party (NAAS), made up of exiled dissidents in Britain, the United States and elsewhere, said in a social media post on Sunday that Manea al-Yami had been killed under “circumstances complicated”.

“Upon news of the assassination, the party attempted to verify its details and motives,” the statement said.

“The party also holds the Saudi authorities responsible for exposing the people of that country to danger, forcing them to live in exile and reside in unsafe environments because of their political beliefs or human rights claims. ‘man,’ he added.

A statement from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces claimed that Yami’s two brothers stabbed him to death in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh on Saturday night.

The two brothers are in police custody and admitted to having murdered the 42-year-old Saudi dissident for “family reasons”, the statement said.

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed al-Bukhari hailed the Lebanese authorities’ efforts “to uncover the facts and bring the perpetrators to justice” in a post on Twitter.

Yami helped establish NAAS in September 2020. The opposition party is headquartered in London. He criticizes King Salman of Saudi Arabia as well as the House of Saud and calls for an elected parliament in Saudi Arabia.

The group also advocated for constitutional safeguards to ensure the separation of legislative, judicial and executive powers.

Yahya Assiri, another founding member of NASS, said Yami was “generally worried” about being hurt, “but he didn’t specify from whom”.

“His activism was undisclosed and (he) was a core member of the party,” Assiri added.

Assiri pointed out that Yami, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslim community, had tried to secure safe passage to a third country.

Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has stepped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived to be political opponents, making evidence of almost zero tolerance for dissent, even in the face of international condemnation.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights activists put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association and belief continue to be violated.

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