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Saudis protest for female political prisoners


Al-Akhbar: Saudi protesters demanded the release of female political prisoners Monday outside the al-Safra (the Yellow) prison in Buraidah, north of Riyadh.

Those detained had been arrested two days earlier during a mostly women protest. Several were arrested with their children.

They had been calling for the release of their relatives in jail for years without charge.

On Sunday the women were transferred from detention camps to al-Safra prison.

Relatives of the female political prisoners followed them to al-Safra where they staged a protest outside the prison.

Demonstrators shown in a video uploaded Monday addressed the detainees, “Prisoner, pay attention: Your honor is my honor; your blood is my blood.”

“The people demand the release of the prisoners,” they chanted.

According to Amnesty International, 15 women and 10 children had been arrested in Buraidah.

Al-Akhbar could not independently verify the total number of detainees or the number of those that have been released or transferred.

There are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, according to the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London. Most of them were said to be arrested at the behest of the United States following the 2001 September 11 attacks in line with the dubbed “war on terrorism.”

Saudi activists had also staged a protest in the country’s capital on Saturday against the regime’s illegal detention of activists without charge or trial.

Around a dozen women and five children attended the protest.

Thirteen people were arrested in Riyadh in the demonstration that defied the Saudi ban on public gatherings.

At the time of their arrest several of the women and one 12-year-old boy were beaten and their placards were forcefully taken, an Amnesty International statement said Tuesday.

"They beat us and called us names. In the bus they started closing the windows on us, and sped away with around 13 of us on board," said Abeer al-Sayed, cited by the human rights organization.

Some of the women and all of the children were released after questioning.

According to Amnesty International three prisoners remain in Riyadh's jails. The statement called for the prisoners' "immediate release."

In a related protest in al-Buraida on 5 January 2013 security forces had arrested around 18 women and 10 children. Most of the detainees were released but three women were sentenced to five days in prison for demonstrating.

The mostly female protests have featured alongside other protests across the country.

The monarchy has seen regular protests since February 2011, mainly in the eastern town of Awamiyah and in the Qatif region.

After the killing of five protesters in November 2011 by Saudi security forces, the protests took on anti-regime sentiments and Amnesty international called on the Saudi authorities to halt the use of excessive force against demonstrators almost a year later in October 2012.

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