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There is no good in much of their secret conferences save (in) whosoever enjoineth charity and fairness and peace-making among the people and whoso doeth that, seeking the good pleasure of God, We shall bestow on him a vast reward. (Al-Nisa, 4:114).

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saudi Arabia: Stop Prosecuting Peaceful Protesters

Rights Activists Among Those Charged in New Case | OCTOBER 28, 2012
(Beirut) – Saudi authorities should stop using the courts to prosecute and punish people for peaceful protest.
On October 17, 2012, the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution charged 19 men with “instigating chaos and sedition” and “gathering illegally” after they participated in a peaceful protest on September 23 outside Turfiya prison, in Qassim province in central Saudi Arabia. They were seeking the release of family members, some of whom have been held for years without charge. On October 18, a criminal court sentenced 15 of the men to between 3 and 15 days in prison, along with suspended sentences of between 50 and 90 lashes and suspended jail terms of between two and five months. The trial of the remaining four is scheduled for November 4.
“Instead of addressing the protesters’ concerns, the Saudi government has used the judicial system to punish them,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The sentences handed to these men are part of a wider effort to target and harass activists across the country.”
Authorities have not alleged that the protesters engaged in or called for violence. Witnesses who participated in the protest told Human Rights Watch that security forces blocked off protesters’ access to food and water. Human Rights Watch examined video footage that protesters said was of the September 23 incident, which showed police beating demonstrators.

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