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Saudi police detain 30 Shiites: activists

More detainments of Shiites in Saudi east for links to protests in March

AFP , Thursday 28 Apr 2011
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Saudi police have arrested 20-30 Shiites, including two bloggers, for allegedly taking part in protests in oil-rich Eastern province, activists and an internet website said Thursday.

The arrests have been made over the past two days mainly in Al-Qatif city and nearby towns which witnessed recent demonstrations urging the release of prisoners and voicing solidarity with Bahraini Shiites.

"Arrests have been ongoing for sometime, but in the past few days it focused on bloggers and writers," a Shiite activist told AFP asking not to be identified.

"The number of Shiites arrested since the start of the protests and (those who) remain in jail is 140," said the activist.

The people were either called to police stations and then detained or security forces raided homes and arrested them, the activist said.

Another Shiite activist told AFP 22 Shiites have been arrested in the past few days and authorities have been systematically rounding up people.

Website rasid.com, run by Shiite activists, reported that it obtained a list of 25 names of Shiites arrested in the past few days.

The latest arrests included prominent writer Hussein al-Yusef and his son.

Earlier in the week, Saudi authorities arrested bloggers Mustafa al-Mubarak and Hussein al-Hashem for taking part in protests, rasid.com said.

More than 100 Shiite protesters had been in jail for several weeks after they were arrested at the start of the demonstrations in early March.

Gulf and Saudi human rights bodies have called for their immediate release.

Two weeks ago, Saudi Human Rights First Society urged the oil-rich kingdom to release the Shiite protesters alleging that some of them had been tortured.

About a dozen rights organisations and 190 intellectuals from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council states called in a joint statement last week for the release of Gulf prisoners, including 110 Saudi Shiites.

The overwhelming majority of the estimated two million Saudi Shiites live in Eastern province, which neighbours Bahrain where authorities last month crushed a Shiite-led protest.

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