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Middle East
Saudi hunger strike over detentions
Protest fast highlights unfair detentions, including that of 11 activists.
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2008 18:57 GMT
Ten of the detainees were arrested on charges
of supporting terrorism [AFP] 

Scores of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have started a two-day hunger strike to protest against what they term as illegal detentions in the kingdom.

The protest fast, which began on Thursday, aims to highlight the plight of 11 activists, being allegedly held on false charges.

One man was detained after writing a report on the poor conditions in Saudi jails.

The other 10 men were arrested in 2007 on charges of supporting terrorism, although human rights groups have said that they were only organising local gatherings calling for fair trials and political reform.

Nine of the 10 men are in solitary confinement.

Those on protest fast are demanding that the government grant the prisoners fair and public trials or set them free.

Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani, a college professor and one of the activists on hunger strike, told Al Jazeera that they had decided on the protest as a last resort. He said that their petitions seeking fair trials for the men and for improving conditions in jails had gone unheeded.

He said that freedoms of expression and assembly were not present in Saudi Arabia.

"So that is really the case. It is not a matter of speaking out, it is a matter of advocating human rights.

The 11 detainees include a former judge and ex-university professors.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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