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Saudi Arabia urged to release protesters

Press TV – March 25, 2011

The Saudi-based Human Rights First Society has called for the release of 100 protesters amid reports that some of those arrested have been tortured.

The rights group has called for a full investigation into the allegations of physical and psychological torture of the detainees, AFP reported.

It says the protesters were mainly arrested in the cities of Safwa, Qatif, and Hassa in the east of the country during peaceful rallies last week.

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has declined to comment on the report. Riyadh has recently stepped up its clampdown on anti-government protesters in response to protests in the kingdom.

The anti-government demonstrators are demanding political reforms and the immediate release of political prisoners, whom protesters say are being held unjustly and without trial, some for as long as 16 years.

The protesters also condemned Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Bahrain and called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from the country.

Shias, a minority in Saudi Arabia, say that they face discrimination in getting government jobs and benefits. The Saudi monarchy denies the allegations.

King Abdullah announced last week that the country would hold the second municipal elections next month, already delayed for two years. He also allotted $136 billion to tackle unemployment and housing problems and ordered the establishment of an anti-corruption body.

Activists say the state should take up real political reforms including an elected parliament with legislative powers, public freedoms and true independence for the judiciary.

They say that instead of carrying out the reforms, the government has stepped up security to suppress demonstrations.

March 24, 2011 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism

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