Saudi security breaks up protest, witnesses say
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 20, 2011 — Updated 1355 GMT (2155 HKT)
Security forces in Saudi Arabia arrested several people demonstrating at the interior ministry Sunday, putting them in police cars and buses to take them away, witnesses said.
Around 100 men had gathered to protest at the government office in the capital Riyadh, said activist Mohammed Al-Qahtani and another witness who did not want to be named to protect his safety.
The demonstrators were demanding the release of imprisoned relatives, the second such protest in as many weeks.
“They arrested a lot of people,” said Al-Qahtani. “They started putting them in police cars and even buses to take them away.”
Police dispersed the rest of the crowd, chasing some down alleyways, the two people said.
The Saudi government did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment.
Saudi Arabia has seen less unrest than many other Arab countries this year, but there have been a few small demonstrations amid growing dissatisfaction in the oil-rich U.S. ally.
Saudi King Abdullah promised a major package of reforms last week, but reform activists responded with disappointment Friday.
Other than a pledge to set up an anti-corruption agency, the activists said, King Abdullah promised little to meet their demands. Instead, the long list of new measures simply expands powers for the kingdom and the religious establishment.
“I feel disappointed, to say the least,” said one Saudi activist who did not give his name for fear of reprisals. “I do believe after these decrees, instead of sweeping reforms, they’ll start sweeping up the activists. I’m afraid there will be a crackdown on activists here.”
After the king made his rare short speech, his spokesman went on the air for more than half an hour to announce the list of reforms — one of which involves sanctions for any member of the media who does not respect the views of Muslim scholars and the Quran. …
Al-Qahtani, of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, said Friday the financial package was the easiest thing to propose.
“It’s basically trying to buy out people so they won’t go out into the streets,” Al-Qahtani said. “It supports these repressive mechanisms.”
Bahrain Unions to Extend Strike: here.
Major Yemen tribe urges Saleh to step down: Leader of Hashed asks president to concede to people’s demands: here.
Yemen‘s minister of human rights resigns after deadly crackdown on protesters, official in her office says: here.
Dubai prison hunger strike enters day five: here.
Video report about the #Feb20 movement in Morocco, which has organized mass protests today as well: here.
Rotterdam solidarity demonstration with Morocco: here.
Third protest over Saudi arrests
SAUDI ARABIA: Dozens of Saudi men and women protested outside Riyadh’s Interior Ministry today, demanding the release of thousands of detainees held without trial for years.
Witnesses said a number of protesters had been arrested after trying to push their way into the building, guarded by about 2,000 special forces and 200 police vehicles.
It was the third protest this month by families and activists demanding information on the fate of people held without trial for years.
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