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News number: 9101140622

12:44 | 2012-04-07

World

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Saudi People Urge Freedom of Political Prisoners

TEHRAN (FNA)- Thousands of Saudi people staged rallies in Qatif and other cities to call for the freedom of political inmates held in the country's jails.



The protests were held in Qatif and several nearby towns, including Awamiyah, on Friday.

Activists say over 30,000 people are locked up in Saudi jails solely because of their demands for reform.

Last October, the US-based Human Rights Watch called on Saudi authorities to stop the ''arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters, relatives of wanted persons, and human rights activists'' in Eastern Province.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also criticized the Al-Saud regime for silencing dissent through intimidation and the violation of the basic rights of citizens.

Qatif has for months been a central point for protests by the Shiite minority who have called for political reforms in the ultra-conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom, where protests are illegal.

Many protesters were killed in clashes between security forces and Shiite protesters in the province. The government refers to the protesters as "rioters".

Saudi Arabia has been the scene of anti-government protests since February 2011, with demonstrators demanding rights reforms, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners.