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Authorities detain rights activists, protesters' family members

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 4 October 2011 - ANHRI condemns the ongoing security campaign by Saudi authorities against the political activists who participated in peaceful demonstrations on 11 March 2011, even going as far as to target the families of the protesters and the rights activists who tried to defend them.

On 3 October, the security forces raided Al-Awamia in the City of Qatif. Hundreds of riot police officers were deployed. Two elderly men, Hassan Al Zayed and Said Abdul-Aal, were detained in order to pressure their sons, who had participated in the March demonstrations, to turn themselves in to the authorities. The security forces also detained two rights activists who tried to inquire about the reasons behind this arbitrary detention. Riot police also tried to disperse the town residents who had gathered before the police station, demanding the release of the two elderly men. Abdul-Aal was subsequently released, while Al Zayed is in intensive care due to the deterioration of his health.

Fadhel Al-Munasef, a rights activist who had been previously detained in connection with the same demonstrations, headed to the police station to inquire about the detention of the two elderly men. Subsequently, the police detained him in the emergency forces prison in Al-Dhahran. In turn, his friend, rights activist Hussein Hadhiya, went to the station to inquire about the legal justification for Al-Munasef's detention. The police's reaction was to detain him as well, and the two activists are still being arbitrarily detained.

ANHRI also notes that the whereabouts of activists Khaled Al-Johany and Mohamed Al-Wadaani, who were kidnapped in the city of Riyadh on 11 March, are still unknown.

"It was not enough for the Saudi government to support its neighboring autocracies, or to enforce censorship on newspapers and mass media. It did not settle for the suppressive measures used to muzzle citizens, the severe hostility towards the Internet, illegal detentions, and the trampling of the legitimate right to peaceful assembly. The actions of the Saudi authorities have amounted to harassing the relatives of the protesters and detaining human rights activists who defend them," said ANHRI.

"The ongoing silence of the international and Arab community about the violations of the Saudi authorities is shameful. There is no room left for freedom of expression, and no respect whatsoever for the rule of law or the right of the citizens to a fair trial. It is beyond reason to continue to be silenced," added ANHRI.

ANHRI demanded that all those concerned with freedoms, and especially freedom of expression, around the world do all they can to expose these oppressive practices by the Saudi government and to pressure for the release of the two activists, Hussein Hadhiya and Fadhel Al-Munasef, as soon as possible.

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