Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country’s political prisoners would offer an array of services and entertainment options to global dignitaries at this week’s G-20 summit in Riyadh, part of an initiative that will allay fears of ill treatment and torture of imprisoned activists.
The crown prince’s office said the initiative will serve the dual purpose of allowing the kingdom to get some use out of the prisoners, while reassuring world leaders who may face uncomfortable questions at home about dealing with the Saudi leader and legitimizing his rule.
An official at the interior ministry said the prisoners had gone through an intensive training course under the direct supervision of royal court officials including experts in arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killing.
While some prisoners had faced difficulty walking and practicing various physical humor routines due to heart attacks while in prison, an intensive program of physiotherapy and targeted corporal punishment yielded rapid improvement.
“Attending dignitaries and excellencies will be able, if they wish, to simulate the experience of prison and virtually abuse or insult the prisoners,” the statement added.
In a pre-recorded interview on Saudi TV, MBS said the initiative was a small concession for western leaders to placate the human rights campaigners who had made their lives miserable, but urged them to stop whining and move on from contemplating crimes like the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The theatrics are immoral and absurd,” he said. “They’re all still working with China, for example, despite the Uighur thing, and it is time for them to get over a journalist or a few activists in jail.”
“The world is not ruled by cowards, and bravery is accepting and loving ourselves regardless of our individual faults or crimes as monarchs and presidents,” he added.