Saudi authorities arrested 100 Shia protesters following a series of anti-government demonstrations in the east of the country last week, a Saudi human rights group says.
Human Rights First Society (HRFS) announced on Wednesday that the protesters were arrested for taking part or organizing anti-government demonstrations demanding political reforms and the immediate release of political prisoners.
Protesters say the prisoners, mostly Shias, are being held unjustly and without trial, some for as long as 16 years.
The protesters also condemned Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Bahrain and called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from the country.
Scores of protesters were injured when Saudi security forces fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
“During the peaceful protests last week in the Eastern Province, in the Shia populated areas of Safwa, Qatif and its villages and Alhassa, 100 protesters were arrested,” Reuters quoted HRFS as saying in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
According to HRFS, some of the Shia detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.
“Human Rights First Society is appalled by the reports that some of these 100 detainees were subjected to physical and psychological torture particularly in Alhassa,” the statement added.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki refused to comment on the report.
“Anybody who committed a violent act that is criminalized by law in Saudi Arabia will be arrested and anybody proved to be involved in calling for demonstrations will be arrested and sent to the court of law,” Turki told Reuters.
In Saudi Arabia, protest rallies or any public display of dissent are forbidden and considered illegal. Senior Wahhabi clerics in the kingdom have also censured opposition demonstrations as “un-Islamic.”