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Saudi Muslim jailed for 30 years over protests: reports

23 December 2013 21:23

Saudi Shiite jailed for 30 years over protests: reports

A Shiite citizen of Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for violence and protesting against Riyadh’s 2011 intervention in neighboring Bahrain, media reported Monday.

The defendant, whose name was not given, was found guilty of taking part in protests in Qatif in Eastern Province and calling for the withdrawal of Saudi forces sent to Bahrain.

Saudis helped Bahraini security forces to crush a Shiite-led uprising demanding democratic reforms in Bahrain in March 2011.

The defendant was charged with throwing petrol bombs at security forces who intervened to disperse protests in Qatif, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

It said both the accused and the prosecutor, who had demanded the death penalty, will appeal.

Protests first erupted in Eastern Province, where the majority of the kingdom’s two million Shiites are concentrated, in March 2011.

Dozens of people were killed in a series of clashes with security forces, and the fighting intensified after the arrest in July last year of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, considered to be a driving force behind the protests.

Qatif has been the scene of numerous anti-government protests since the beginning of anti-regime protests. Demonstrations have also taken place in other regions across Saudi Arabia including the capital, Riyadh.

Protesters primarily called for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

Amnesty International has also called on the Saudi authorities to “end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” and to respect the right of people to peaceful protest.

In Saudi Arabia, protests and political gatherings of any kind are prohibited. Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in the country.

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