Saudi Prison

 Saudi Activists Start Hunger Strike to Highlight Detentions

By Glen Carey

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabian human rights campaigners began a two-day hunger strike as they seek a more transparent judicial system and try to raise public awareness about 11 political activists who have been detained without trial.

Sixty-eight activists are participating in the protest, which began today after the government didn’t respond to letters asking for greater rights for the detainees and an improvement in prison conditions, Mohammad Fahd al-Qahtani, a college professor and one of 13 campaigners who organized the strike, said in a telephone interview in Riyadh.

“We sent a petition to the Minister of Interior, but we got no response,” al-Qahtani said. “We want the government to be clear about how it implements the law.” Calls made to Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki weren’t answered.

Saudi Arabia often conducts trials in secret and detainees are routinely denied access to lawyers, according to an Amnesty International report on Oct. 14. The government announced in October 2007 that it intended to reform the judicial system by establishing a supreme court and commercial and labor courts.

The rights activists started groups on the social networking Web site Facebook.com and on Google.com to help raise awareness about their protest and the detainees. Some of the 11 being held, including Suliman Ibrahim al-Reshoudi, a human-rights advocate and former judge, and ……

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