Saudis Protest Imprisonment of Political Detainees
Despite the illegality of demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, sporadic protests have occurred during the last week. On September 23 a sizable rally took place at Tafiya Prison outside Riyadh to protest the imprisonment of alleged Islamic extremists, resulting in the arrest of several participants. Many of the prisoners at Tafiya have been detained there since 2003 when the Saudi government cracked down on al-Qaeda operatives in the area. Another 100 protesters gathered to support the cause in front of the Saudi Human Rights Commission on September 25. Abdel Karim Khadr, founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association said, ”Ironically, some of the protesters are now being held in Tafiya Prison with the relatives whose rights they were defending in recent demonstrations. There will be an increase in protests if no solution is brought forward by the government. People are asking for clearer rules of arrest and prosecution and more freedom.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulaziz bin Abdullah said at the U.N. that inaction by the Security Council has allowed Bashar al-Assad free reign to attack the Syrian people. ”We regret that this regime continues to believe that it can proceed with its suppressive procedures to control the situation without any due regard to the high humanitarian losses. The Security Council, which is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping peace and security, has failed so far to take a decision about the Syrian crisis and to stop the bloodshed therein,” Abdullah said. He also said that Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. peace envoy to Syria, would need to go much further than the six-point plan laid out by Kofi Annan, and urged the Security Council to give Braimi all the support necessary.