Saudi Arabs fight for democracy

This 1 January 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Women Referred to ‘Terror’ Court for Driving Cars in Saudi Arabia

Two Saudi women, Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi, are referred to “terror” court after driving cars.

From EA WorldView blog:

Saudi Arabia Feature: The Protests in the Central Cities (Perazzo)

Bayan Perazzo writes for Muftah:

Until recently, the Eastern province city of Qatif was the only Saudi Arabian city to experience regular protests since the Arab Spring erupted over two years ago. Beginning in February 2011, demonstrations in Qatif called for basic rights of citizenship and the release of political prisoners.

Although Qatif is a primarily Shiite region, protestors demands were in no way related to their religious affiliation. This did not stop the Saudi government from attempting to discredit the demonstrations by resorting to its familiar sectarian discourse. By claiming these protests were “Shiite” in nature and manipulated by Iran to destabilize the nation, the Saudi government was fairly successful in isolating the Qatif protests and preventing them from spreading to other parts of the country.

In recent months, however, protests in the central cities of Qassim and Riyadh have become more frequent. In January 2013, a group of 11 women and children were arrested for demonstrating in front of the Board of Grievances in Buraida, a town in Qassim. In February 2013, 50 more women were arrested in Riyadh and Qassim. Finally, in the first week of March,more than 170 men, women, and children were arrested in Buraida after organizing a sit-in in front of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. A spokesman for the Buraida police reported that one hundred protesters have been released. According to Saudi activists, several female demonstrators remain unaccounted for.

Protestors’ demands in Qassim have been very similar to those in Qatif. They have asked for the release of political prisoners, fair trials, an end to inhumane practices in prisons, and respect for citizens’ basic rights. The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association released a statement stating that protestors in Qassim resorted to public demonstrations only after exhausting all other formal means of registering their grievances.

While initial protests in Buraida were limited to the family members of prisoners, other concerned citizens soon joined the cause. The issue of indefinite detentions was a particular focus of their efforts. In Saudi Arabia, it is not uncommon for individuals to be imprisoned for years without trial. Information about the charges against them often is also withheld. Some prisoners who have served their sentences in full are not released, and remain detained without recourse.

Protests in Saudi Arabia’s central region (an area generally adhering to a stricter interpretation of Sunni Islam) have discredited the government’s sectarian rhetoric. In response, the Saudi regime has resorted to another old ploy, religious extremism. In the past, the government has attempted to justify its unlawful treatment of prisoners in Qassim and Riyadh by pointing to their alleged ties to terrorist groups. Without proper legal representation and fair trials, these individuals have no opportunity to defend themselves against these charges.

Read full article….

Human Rights Watch calls on authorities to free detained Jordan activist Khaled al-Natour: here.

21 thoughts on “Saudi Arabs fight for democracy

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  5. 100 years ago: Ottoman Turks driven out of Al-Hasa

    On May 9, 1913, fighters led by the King of Najd, Ibn Saud, annexed Al-Hasa from the Ottoman Empire, expanding the territory that is now called Saudi Arabia.

    Ibn Saud had met with the British Gulf officials in 1911 and requested Britain’s support to drive the Turks out of Al-Hasa, a highly fertile eastern province with the largest oases in the region. He also sought Britain’s support against a Turkish naval invasion in exchange for allowing a British political representative in the province. However, London rejected the request, as it was set to negotiate outstanding issues with the Ottoman government, including the German-backed Baghdad railway, and did not want to alter the status quo in the geo-strategically sensitive region.

    In 1913, Ibn Saud repeated the proposal and declared his intentions to seize Al-Hasa, arguing that it was opportune timing given that the Ottomans were severely weakened as a result of the Italo-Turkish and Balkan wars. London again refused, and on May 9 Ibn Saud led a surprise attack on the fort of Hufuf, the capital of Al-Hasa. His forces surrounded the mosque where Turkish troops fled but offered them safe passage to Bahrain if they surrendered, which the Turkish commander accepted.

    Not long afterwards, the Ottomans were also expelled from Qatif by Ibn Saud’s fighters, who secured the entire eastern province, which borders the Persian Gulf from Kuwait to Qatar.


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