Democracy Activists Tried

The Saudi Institute yesterday noted that:

Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamed, Dr. Matrook Al-Faleh, and Poet Ali Al-Domaini who were arrested March 16th of last year will be tried Saturday on charges of leading calls for a constitutional monarchy, and several popular petitions for national elections.

The trial against academic Dr. Matrouq al-Faleh and writer Ali Al-Domaini reportedly started on 9 August 2004 at an Islamic court in Riyadh. The two intellectuals have been detained since 15 March 2004 for criticising the authorities. The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN considers both men to be held solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions and calls for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dr. Matrouq al-Faleh is a former political science teacher at King Saud University, Riyadh.. He was reportedly banned from teaching in January 2003 because of an article he published in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Qudis which reportedly discussed the September 11th attacks and their impact on Saudi Arabia.

Apparently the three refused to sign a release form to get out of jail as reported in an article last year titled, “Being a Saudi Political Activist Means Learning to do Jail Time”

The arrest of Tayeb along with about a dozen other pro-democracy activists last month has stalled the reform movement in Saudi Arabia, the most serious in the country’s recent history. Most activists have been released on condition they stop organizing public events and don’t talk to the press. Three who refuse to cooperate without a lawyer are still in detention.

FrontPage wrote that at a human rights march recently noted Saudi Activists contended that while human rights acivists in the Kingdom are treated as criminals, the terrorists are given an easier road:

Demonstrators also called for the release of three Saudi reformers imprisoned since March 16: Dr. Abdallah al-Hamed, Dr. Matrook al-Faleh, and the poet Ali al-Doumani. On November 9, the Saudi authorities arrested the three prisoners’ attorney, Abdurrahman al-Lahim, after he made public a petition to Crown Prince Abdullah demanding a fair and public trial for them. So far, it appears that their trial will be held in secret.

While reformers and their legal counsel are jailed in the kingdom, royal officialdom continues to treat al Qaeda members and supporters leniently. The Saudi Institute, another Saudi human rights monitoring group in Washington, announced last week that crippled sheikh Khalid al-Harbi, who was videotaped in a conversation with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan soon after September 11, 2001, and who surrendered to Saudi authorities in July of this year, has been released.

At the same time, 30 other al Qaeda militants were granted amnesty by the Saudis. Official Saudi sources said no charges had been entered against any of the accused terrorists, and the regime assured its subjects and the world that the “deviants” had “rectified their methodology.”

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