11 women have been detained for protesting
Amnesty International has called for 11 women to be released from prison after they attended a protest in Saudi Arabia.
The humanitarian organization said yesterday that the women, who have been detained since the 5 January, must be released unless they are charged with ‘an internationally recognized crime’.
Security forces in the Middle-Eastern country arrested 18 women and 10 children who were gathered outside the Board of Grievances building in the central city of Buraida.
They were protesting against the continued detention of their relatives, in conjunction with Saudi anti-terrorism efforts. However, 30 minutes in they were arrested and forced on to buses taking them to prison, with the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution charging that they had ‘infringed the system’.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, seven of the women who had not previously been caught protesting were released after signing and assigning their thumbprints to a pledge promising never to protest again. Their children were also released.
Three women remain in custody in in Buraida’s General prison, and a further eight are being held in the Social Welfare Home in the capital city Ridyadh, which is advertised as a destination for women detained after ‘committing forbidden acts’.
Philip Lurther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty, said: ‘According to reports and photos from the protest, these women and children merely gathered peacefully and help placards bearing their detained relatives’ names and the length of the detention.
‘There is no way the Saudi Arabian authorities can justify detaining people if they have simply peacefully exercised their rights to freedom and assembly’, he added.