Mon Jun 26, 2017 | 03:32
Saudi activists call for massive rallies
Mon, 02 May 2011 18:15:14 GMT
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Anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Qatif have demanded the release of political prisoners.
Saudi activists have called for massive demonstrations east of the country to protest against arbitrary detention of anti-government protesters.

The protest rallies are expected to be held in seven cities in the Eastern Province, but the exact date has not been announced yet.

Saudi Arabia's east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months and authorities have arrested scores of people, including bloggers and writers, for taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

On Monday, Saudi security forces arrested human rights activist, Fadhel el-Manasif, in the city of Qatif for taking part in anti-government protests in the eastern city.

The anti-government protesters call for human rights reforms, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners -- some of them held without trial for more than 16 years.

The protesters have also condemned the kingdom's military intervention in Bahrain and have urged the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from the neighboring country.

Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government's crackdown on protesters.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to torture both physically and mentally.

The call for massive demonstration in the east came a day after Saudi intellectuals and activists in the capital Riyadh called for a boycott of the kingdom's municipal elections.

They said the municipal councils "lack the authority to effectively carry out their role" and complained that half of the 178 members are directly appointed by government authorities instead of being elected.

“We announce a boycott of the elections and urge all those who have the right to participate as candidates or voters to boycott them," the activists said days after registration centers opened in Saudi cities to register the names of candidates for the municipal council elections scheduled for September 22.

In Saudi Arabia, protest rallies and any public display of dissent are forbidden and are considered illegal. Senior Wahhabi clerics in the kingdom have also censured opposition demonstrations as "un-Islamic."

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