Saudi Arabian protesters have held a rally in the city of Qatif, in Eastern Province, despite the heavy presence of police. Protesters called for the immediate release of thousands of political prisoners and demanded the resignation of the Qatif governor. Activists say several buses loaded with regime forces arrived near the site of the protest. The protest rally comes less than one day after a similar protest in the city in which gunshots were heard throughout the night.
According to the Shiitenews correspondent hundreds of Saudis took to the streets in Qatif on Sunday to protest against the detention of two senior citizens. Saudi security forces took the two men hostage in a bid to force their sons, who are wanted by Saudi authorities for participating in anti-government protests, surrender themselves to authorities.
Witnesses say hundreds of Saudis gathered outside the police headquarters in Qatif, demanding their immediate release, but security forces dispersed the crowd using force. Many activists are reported to be injured in the violence. According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trial or legitimate charges and were arrested for merely looking suspicious. Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years.
Attempting to incite the public against the government and allegiance to foreign entities are usually the ready-made charges brought against political dissidents. Families of political prisoners have repeatedly pleaded with the ruling monarchy to at least give their loved ones a fair trial. But for years now, the families say, the king has ignored their calls. Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government crackdown on protesters. According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.