groups petition Saudi king on jailed reformists
DUBAI, June 3,
2008 (AFP) - More than a dozen rights groups sent a petition to
Saudi King Abdullah on Tuesday urging him to release several
prominent Saudi reformists, some of whom have been held for 16
"We put before
you the case of the detention of an elite group of Saudis who
have championed a peaceful internal dialogue to achieve reform,"
the signatories wrote in the petition, a copy of which was
received by AFP.
The letter was
faxed on Tuesday to the Saudi embassy in Paris, Haytham Manna,
spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights, told AFP by
telephone from the French capital.
Manna said he
was seeking an appointment with the embassy to also hand the
document to diplomats, and an updated version signed by
individual activists would be made public in Paris on June 13.
reminded King Abdullah that he had pardoned three prominent
reformists who spent 17 months in jail for demanding a
constitutional monarchy shortly after ascending the throne of
oil-rich Saudi Arabia in August 2005.
Two of the three
-- Matruk al-Faleh and Abdullah al-Hamed -- are now again behind
arrested on May 19 and was subsequently reported by his wife to
be on hunger strike.
against him are unknown, but rights activists have linked his
arrest to his defence of Hamed and a statement he wrote after
visiting him at a prison in Buraida, some 320 kilometres (200
miles) north of Riyadh, which was critical of conditions in the
Hamed and his
brother Issa are serving jail terms of six and four months
respectively on charges of inciting women to stage public
protests, which are banned in Saudi Arabia.
Faleh is Hamed's
The petition to
King Abdullah also raises the case of nine activists who were
arrested in February 2007 for alleged links to terror funding,
eight of whom remain incarcerated without trial.
"We urge you to
strive for the release of (the latter group), Abdullah and Issa
al-Hamed and Matruk al-Faleh, and to end these injustices," the
have said that the group held since February last year had been
mulling the formation of an Islamic constitutional political
parties are banned in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by an
absolute monarchy and has no elected parliament.
include 14 human rights groups, mostly Arab. Manna said the
petition would be updated later this month after some 300
reformists and activists from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere asked
that their names be added.
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