protesters arrested in saudi arabia for demanding the release of jailed dissidents

by Tim Phillips

Nearly 200 protesters were arrested early yesterday morning in Saudi Arabia. They had gathered to demand the release of more than 50 women and children detained since Wednesday for participating in a demonstration regarding the incarceration of their relatives. Police arrested 161 men, 15 women, and 6 children yesterday for attending the protest.

Demonstrations and marches are prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Criticism of the government is also disallowed. According to Amnesty International,

Those who do criticize the government are often held incommunicado without charge, sometimes in solitary confinement, and denied access to lawyers or the courts to challenge the legality of their detention. Torture or other ill-treatment is frequently used to extract “confessions” from detainees, to punish them for refusing to “repent” or to force them to make undertakings not to criticize the government. … Defendants are generally denied legal counsel, and in many cases, they and their families are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them. Court hearings are often held behind closed doors.

Despite this repression, a rising number of people in Saudi Arabia have been voicing their opposition to the government. Since 2011, protests by relatives of people incarcerated without charge or trial have been increasingly frequent.