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HRW Urges Release of Saudi Prisoners

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TEHRAN, March 28 (ICANA) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Saudi government to release more than 160 protesters and critics arrested during anti-regime demonstrations.
Monday, March 28, 2011 9:55:07 AM
HRW Urges Release of Saudi Prisoners

"While King Abdullah announces financial gifts to Saudi citizens, his police arrest those who want more meaningful change. The scale of arrests has risen dramatically over the past two weeks," said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia gained momentum in Qatif and al-Ahsa districts, both Shia populated areas, following the overthrow of long-time rulers in North Africa and the recent revolutions in the Middle East.

HRW said 145 people have been detained in Qatif and al-Ahsa and several others in the capital Riyadh as well as Qasim, stating that the arrests “violate the rights to peaceful expression and assembly.”

In response to the protests, the oil-rich state has announced a 136-billion-dollar package of economic aid to citizens, promising to create more jobs and remove housing problems.

However, Saudi 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.

Instead of carrying out the reforms, the government has stepped up security to suppress demonstrations. Saudi government has also deployed troops to Bahrain to quell demand of the Shia-majority nation change.

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