In Saudi Arabia women protesting detention of others will be detained

Saudi women protesters surrounded by Saudi security force

In Saudi Town, Women Protest Detentions, Leading to Their Own

Last weekend, Saudi security forces encircled and arrested a small group of women who were protesting the long-term detention of relatives without charges on suspicion of terrorism, and the event has touched off nearly a week of unrest in the Saudi town of Buraida.

{jcomments on} A video , apparently shot from a rooftop, showed the security forces joining hands to surround the women, who were holding up placards in the street, as reinforcements showed up.

Amnesty International reported in a statement that security forces arrested some 18 women and 10 children who had gathered outside Buraida’s Board of Grievances building to protest the continued detention of relatives in connection with the Saudi Arabian authorities’ counterterrorism efforts.

It said about seven women were released early the next morning after they signed and added their thumbprints to pledges not to protest again. Three of the women were believed to be at Buraida’s General Prison while eight more – all under the age of 30 – were transferred to the Social Welfare Home in the capital, Riyadh, Amnesty said.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia crack down on public demonstrations, and it is difficult to get a full picture of events inside the kingdom through the official or private media. But reports on social media and images uploaded on Twitter and YouTube filter out, helping to construct an idea of some of the political or human rights-motivated grievances there.

Since Saturday, activists, bloggers and journalists took note of the protest in Buraida, about 200 miles northwest of Riyadh, and its aftermath. On the day it started, for example, a Saudi journalist, Iman alQahtani, wrote:

Another video showed the small group of protesters just as they were starting to gather.

GlobalVoicesOnline wrote a report on Thursday about the aftermath of the demonstrations and arrests. It translated a stream of Twitter messages from an activist group that uses a Twitter handle, @e3teqal, which means “detention” in Arabic.

A video posted to the YouTube channel of @e3teqal showed a crowd of men demonstrating at night calling for the release of the women and children.

On Twitter, @e3teqal said a local prince from Qassim province, where Buraida is located, had stepped in to order a third of the female detainees released, with the others being sent to prison and to Riyadh.

Amnesty reported that protests were also broken up at the Buraida prison and the center in Riyadh by relatives wanting their women and children detained on Saturday released.

The writer of the GlobalVoiceOnline article, Osama Khalid, quoted a Twitter post from Abdullah Said, a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, as saying a Saudi prosecutor, named as Ibrahim al-Dihish, had asked the judge to jail and punish them by flogging.

While that post appeared to have been taken down later, others by Mr. Said quoted the judge as demanding that the women apologize, a request they rejected.

It was not immediately clear how many were still detained by late Thursday.

Buraida is a poor, conservative agricultural area that for decades has been a place where the voices of political dissent have risen.

After the Arab Spring gained pace in 2010, the Saudi government banned demonstrations, and that ban led to more arrests in Buraida of people who were in turn demanding the end of detentions of relatives who had been held for long periods without trial, according to Human Rights Watch.

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