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Protesters in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province subject to arrest, torture and loss of livelihood - new report

Amnesty International has launched a new report highlighting human rights violations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province against mainly Shi’a Muslims suspected of participating in protests.

Amnesty’s 42-page report, Saudi Arabia: Dissident Voices Stifled in the Eastern Province, documents cases where individuals have been subjected, among other measures, to travel bans or dismissed from employment apparently to punish them for exercising their right to freedom of expression or assembly.

Those seen as sympathetic to protesters in Bahrain have been singled out, says the report.

Those targeted have included individuals engaged in setting up, managing or being involved in websites perceived as posting material critical of the Saudi Arabian authorities; writers whose articles are seen as encouraging or supporting protests; others suspected of drafting, signing or distributing statements or petitions opposed to government policies and practices; individuals suspected of communicating with the media on these issues; and mobile phone users suspected of storing and sending messages perceived as opposed to the government.

The organisation is particularly concerned about reports that several of those held have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

One case highlighted by Amnesty concerns Hussein Salman Yassin al-Sulaiman, a 35-year-old father of three Children's rights, who was arrested on 21 September 2011 for expressing “compassion” with the Bahraini protesters and calling for the release of detainees in Saudi Arabia on Facebook. Hussein al-Sulaiman, who has suffered from polio for years, was held for around three months at a detention facility run by the Criminal Investigation Department in al-Ahsa. He was then transferred to the General Directorate of Investigation in Dammam where he was tortured and, as a result, his upper thigh was broken.

Along with a number of other detainees, Hussein al-Sulaiman is still held apparently without charge or trial. None of the detainees has been directly informed of any charges filed against them.

While recognising the responsibility of the Saudi Arabian authorities to preserve public order, Amnesty is concerned that many of those arrested appear to have been detained arbitrarily.

Download the full report - ' Dissident voices stifled in the Eastern Province strong>' (PDF)

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