HRW raps Saudi Arabia for violation of crackdown on opponents

HRW raps Saudi Arabia for violation of crackdown on opponents
Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:28:14

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on opponents in the kingdom, calling on Saudi authorities to release activists.

In a report released on Tuesday, the New York-based HRW called on Saudi authorities to free advocates of political and social change imprisoned in the kingdom last year solely for their peaceful protest.

The international human rights organization also urged Saudi authorities to stop arresting and putting the activists on trial.

“Saudi Arabia should free imprisoned activists and take other concrete, visible steps to show the government is willing to improve its abysmal rights record,” said Joe Stork, the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Rights Watch, adding, “Saudi authorities displayed their growing intolerance toward citizens who spoke out for reform in 2013.”

More than 40,000 political prisoners, mostly prisoners of conscience, are in jails across Saudi Arabia. According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trial or legitimate charges and have been arrested for merely looking suspicious.

Stork further noted, “If the government wants to improve its stance on human rights, releasing activists from prison would be a good place to start.”

He also questioned the election of Saudi Arabia as a member of the Human Rights Council in November last year, saying, “Saudi Arabia’s record of repression and its broken promises on human rights raise serious questions about its fitness for membership on the Human Rights Council.”

Saudi officials’ refusal to register political and human rights groups, the situation of foreign workers, and bans on women were among the violations in the country listed in the report.

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in eastern province of Qatif, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.


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