Saudi pro-democracy group denied protest permit

AFP, Wednesday 22 Dec 2010

For the third time, attempts by pro democracy groups in Saudi Arabia to express their quest for reform failed

A Saudi pro-democracy group said Wednesday it had cancelled a planned sit-in for political reform after the interior ministry denied them a permit for the protest.

The small but vocal Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) announced in November that it was seeking a permit to stage a sit-in on December 23 to call for democratic changes in the absolute monarchy and greater rights for its people.

"Our country has suffered from violence due to the loss of liberty and the prohibition of opinion and expression," the group said in its November petition.
The group's leaders were called to the interior ministry on Tuesday and told to sign a statement stating they had been informed the protest permit was denied, according to Mohammed al-Qahtani, an ACPRA official.

They met with Abdullah al-Eisa, a deputy of assistant interior minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the country's internal security chief.
"This is our third attempt in a couple of years," Qahtani said. The protest permits were denied each time.

But Qahtani said the group is building a case that the kingdom systematically denies basic rights to its people.
"We are planning to take the case against this country to the UN Human Rights Council," when the review of Saudi Arabia's status comes up in two years under the universal periodic review process, Qahtani said.

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