sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2011

30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia

People are arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia as political prisoners based on suspicion and there is no trial and no proof that they are guilty at all. Jails are now overcrowded.

Press TV talks with Ali al-Ahmad, Director of IGA (Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs) in Washington about how for decades Saudi money and over compromising by Western entities has allowed Saudi Arabia to act against human rights with total impunity. Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Over 30,000 political prisoners in jails across the Arab kingdom -- Does that surprise you?

Ali al-Ahmad: It does not surprise me because Saudi Arabia under the Saudi monarchy has been arresting people since the 1950s in large numbers.

The issue here is that the Western governments and the media is not focusing on Saudi Arabia and shies away generally from focusing on it; and secondly, the 'iron-curtain' nature of the Saudi monarchy has not been open to giving the information.

Even those people who are inside the country do not have all that much information precisely because of the government's silence; people in their hundreds refuse to share information even with their families so the information is really hard to get for those who are inside the country.

Press TV: As we talk, as you said, of the Western governments not really doing anything about it, we've had for decades, I could say based on numerous reports from rights organizations such as Amnesty International who have talked about these illegal detentions.

So why hasn't the international community reacted at least to those reports? Does it show that Saudi Arabia perhaps is just ignoring it -- that the Saudi kingdom has seen no reaction?

Ali al-Ahmad: There is not a large reaction to Saudi actions. Just take for example the so-called Saudi municipal elections where women are not going to be allowed to vote. Under apartheid when this happened it was a big crisis in headlines around the world. Now, Saudi Arabian women are not allowed to vote in local elections yet the international community and the leading democratic countries say nothing about it. In fact, they praise the Saudi monarch and his policies.

So, this is a continuation of overall policy of supporting the monarchy against the people even by refusing the entry or issuing a visa for human rights activists inside Saudi Arabia -- and we just had this in the past week -- visa cancelled for a leading human rights family whose child, a ten year old, his visa was issued and then cancelled by the US Consulate in Baram. So you see here complicity on the part of the US government toward human rights activists. This is nothing new.

Press TV: Given the landscape of the region with the Arab Spring, we've seen protests in Saudi Arabia -- one of the main demands in the southern part at least has been about the overall situation of political prisoners, visitation rights and of course their freedom. When is the balance going to be tipped -- do you think this would be a time for that?

Ali al-Ahmad: I think it will take further time. I think it will come to fruition. It is really hard if not impossible for dictatorships to hold back the people. The 30,000 people who are in prison -- that tells you there are ten times that number who are outside prison who are pushing for change.


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Mensagem de boas-vindas

"...Quando um voluntário é essencialmente um visitador prisional, saiba ele que o seu papel, por muito pouco que a um olhar desprevenido possa parecer, é susceptível de produzir um efeito apaziguador de grande alcance..."

"... When one is essentially a volunteer prison visitor, he knows that his role, however little that may seem a look unprepared, is likely to produce a far-reaching effect pacificatory ..."

Dr. José de Sousa Mendes
Presidente da FIAR