More than 120 prisoners in Saudi Arabia have gone on hunger strike to express their anger at inhumane prison conditions, human rights activists say.
The hunger strikers are also objecting to their their detention without charge or trial. More than 70 inmates stopped eating last week in a bid to draw international attention to their plight. Recently, around 50 more have joined the campaign. The strike will continue for at least five weeks, according to the human rights activists. The prisoners hope their protest will prompt immediate action to stop the gross violation of human rights in Saudi jails. Some of the detainees are reported to have been held without trial for more than 16 years. Attempting to incite public opinion against the ruling regime and collusion with foreign entities are usually the trumped-up charges against political dissidents in Saudi Arabia. Saudi activists say there are more than 40,000 political prisoners, mostly prisoners of conscience, in jails across the kingdom. Families and relatives of political prisoners have held several public gatherings in major cities, including Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Buraidah. However, their protests have failed to bear any results. In Saudi Arabia, protests and political gatherings of any kind are prohibited. Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially after November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province. According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”