A rare show in iron-fisted monarchy: “Saudis in capital protest for release of prisoners”

saudi demoMARIAM RIZK, Associated Press, February 10, 2013

CAIRO (AP) – Residents of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh say more than 100 people have demonstrated to call for the release of people detained without charge.  Saudi security officials say they arrested at least five people. They spoke anonymously in line with police regulations.

Dozens of security vehicles blocked the intersections of two streets Saturday where the demonstrations were taking place.

North of Riyadh in the city of Buraydah, around 30 people – mostly women related to the prisoners – held a similar rally.

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

In past years, a small number of Saudis have demonstrated in Riyadh to demand the release of thousands of people detained without charge or trial on suspicion of involvement in militant activity. Some have been held for up to 15 years.

Protests are rare in the conservative kingdom.

The barbaric comprador monarchy of Saudi Arabia defends beheading

[That barbarism, feudalism, monarchism, and imperialism present an undivided front of arrogant impunity–of acting like nothing’s wrong–is shocking and disgusting, but expected, given their history and nature.  But that the story is so hidden, in the highly touted “information age,” is a shameful crime of media who claim, falsely, that they are objective, the basis for an informed democracy.  No, they are premeditated co-conspirators with the barbaric powers-that-be. — Frontlines ed.]

Charlotte Rachael Proudman, The Independent (UK), Tuesday 15 January 2013

The beheading of a housemaid in Saudi Arabia highlights slave-like conditions

In 2010, 27 migrant workers were executed in Saudi Arabia and, according to Amnesty International, more than 45 foreign maids are currently on death row

A young Sri Lankan woman was beheaded with a sword last Wednesday in a Dawadmi, a small town in Saudi Arabia. Rizana Nafeek was found guilty of murdering her employers’ child – a crime she vehemently denied until death.

Rizana is not the only migrant worker to have been executed in Saudi Arabia – at least 27 were executed in 2010 and more than 45 foreign maids are facing execution on death row according to Amnesty International. Rizana’s deadly fate highlights the plight of migrant workers all around the world.

Like many migrant workers’ Rizana’s story began when she left her home country Sri Lanka in 2005 for Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid where she could earn enough money to support her relatives. In the same year she was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to death for murdering her employers’ four-month-old son, Kayed bin Nayef bin Jazyan al-Otaibi. Rizana said the child choked on milk and died. The child’s family believed Rizana had strangled the child after attempting to bottle-feed him.

Once arrested Rizana battled with an unjust Saudi legal system. “Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by a lawyer and in many cases are kept in the dark about the progress of legal proceedings against them,” Amnesty International said. The Sri Lankan government and human rights organisations campaigned for Rizana to have a fair trial.

Rizana did not have legal representation prior to her trial – and – she was physically assaulted and forced to sign a confession under duress, which she later retracted. Under international law Rizana at the age of 17 was too young to receive the death penalty. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia is prohibited from sentencing a child under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence to death. It is unlikely Saudi Arabia will be subject to any stringent sanctions for violating international law, which led to the death of a young woman. Continue reading

Amnesty International: “Saudi Arabia must halt attempts to stifle peaceful protest”

16 October 2012

Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies. 

[Photo: Saudi human rights activist Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was sentenced in April 2012 to four years’ imprisonment and a five-year travel ban for communicating with foreign bodies.]

The Saudi Arabian authorities must withdraw their threat to deal “firmly” with people taking part in demonstrations and refrain from detaining those who exercise their right to peaceful protest, Amnesty International said.

The organization’s call came after the Minister of Interior issued a statement last week warning anyone taking part in demonstrations that they would face prosecution and be “firmly dealt with” by members of the security forces.

“The Saudi authorities must end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The right of people to peaceful protest must be respected and the security forces must refrain from detaining or using excessive force against people who exercise it.” Continue reading

Open letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left to support the Syrian popular revolution!

[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media–whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East.  We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising–including more information about the revolutionary left forces.  The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising.  We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. —  Frontlines ed.]

“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.”  — from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left

————————————–

 The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.

Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.

The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.

The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.

The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures. Continue reading

Saudi counter-revolution cools Arab Spring

Fueled by fear of rising oil prices, US deference is helping Saudi Arabia implement its agenda in the Gulf.

Jim Lobe, al Jazeera

24 Apr 2011 —

”]As the so-called Arab Spring enters its sixth month, it appears to have run into seriously wintry headwinds.

While some observers here have blamed Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring Sunni-led sheikhdoms as a major source of the icy winds that are blasting through the Gulf, the growing contradictions between the US and Western “values” and their interests are adding to the unseasonable weather.

Thus, while Washington has privately expressed strong doubts about the wisdom of the increasingly brutal and indiscriminate crackdown against the majority Shia population in Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, its failure to clearly and publicly denounce the Saudi-backed repression is only the most blatant example of this trend. Continue reading

Violent clashes in Bahrain


Euronews on  Mar 14, 2011

In one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month, police used tear gas and water cannon to break up demonstrations against the kingdom’s royal family. Witnesses said rubber bullets were also fired by police.

Bahrain is gripped in its worst unrest since the 1990s For several weeks now the Shi’ite majority has held rallies complaining against what it says is discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.

——————————————————————————-

Washington Post: Security official in Saudi Arabia: Gulf military force enters Bahrain to help deal with unrest

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Monday, March 14, 4:59 AM

CAIRO — A security official in Saudi Arabia says a military force from Gulf states has entered Bahrain to help deal with a month of political unrest in the island kingdom. Continue reading

Qatif, Saudia Arabia: Saudi Police Open Fire on Peaceful Protestors, wound 3

10 March, 2011:  Saudi police wound 3 protesters

Saudi police have shot and wounded at least three protesters in the eastern city of Qatif after people poured out into the streets to demand freedom and release of prisoners.

Witnesses said that hundreds of protesters, including women, took to the streets on Thursday. As the rally was about to finish, police opened fire on them, injuring at least three of them, all Shias. They were later taken to Qatif general hospital, witnesses said.

Thursday’s demonstration was the latest of a series of small protests over the past three weeks, in which several people were arrested.

To pacify the protesters, Saudi authorities released 25 Shia protesters detained in the past few weeks. Continue reading