Rights groups slam Saudi Arabia for cracking down on activists

January 11, 2017 10:30 pm

Ahmed al-Mushaikhass, activist from Dammam, the capital of ’s Eastern Province (Photo by Amnesty International)

Watch and Amnesty International have slammed Riyadh’s relentless crackdown on campaigners in the kingdom, say Saudi authorities are yet to release two activists recently arrested.
The respectively New York-based and UK-based rights bodies said Wednesday that Essam Koshak from Mecca and Ahmed al-Mushaikhass from the Eastern Province’s capital of Dammam had been apprehended in the year’s first 10 days.
The arrests were first reported on Tuesday by the [Persian] Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR).
According to Amnesty, the former is under arrest for social networking in favor of human rights, while the latter is being held for demanding the release of the political detainees, who have been arrested across the province.
“Saudi Arabia’s relentless persecution of human rights defenders is a blatant campaign aimed at deterring them from speaking about the human rights situation in the country,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty’s Beirut Regional office.
“The latest string of arrests has sparked fears that 2017 will be yet another dark year for human rights in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities continue with their attempts to crush any semblance of a human rights movement in the country,” she added.
The Amnesty official further described human rights activists in Saudi Arabia as “endangered species,” saying, “One by one they are vanishing – prosecuted, jailed, intimidated into silence or forced into exile – highlighting the authorities’ zero tolerance approach to freedom of expression.”
Riyadh’s controversially reinforced “anti-terror” laws allow heavy-handed action against rights activism.
The kingdom has stepped up security measures in the Shia-majority Eastern Province, which has seen numerous protest rallies against religious persecution.
Demonstrations intensified in the province after the January 2016 execution by the regime of respected Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
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