|Protesters hold pictures of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr's arrest July 8, 2012 (Reuters / Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)|
Saudi Arabia, a major supporter of opposition forces in Syria, has increased crackdown on its own dissenters, with 30,000 activists reportedly in jail. In an exclusive interview to RT a Saudi prince defector explained what the monarchy fears most.
“Saudi Arabia has stepped up arrests and trials of peaceful dissidents, and responded with force to demonstrations by citizens,” Human Rights Watch begins the country’s profile on its website.
Political parties are banned in Saudi Arabia and human rights groups willing to function legally have to go no further than investigating things like corruption or inadequate services. Campaigning for political freedoms is outlawed.
One of such groups, which failed to get its license from the government, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was cited by AFP as saying the kingdom was holding around 30,000 political prisoners.
|Prince Khalid Bin Farhan Al-Saud|
Saudi Prince Khaled Bin Farhan Al-Saud, who spoke to RT from Dusseldorf, Germany, confirmed reports of increased prosecution of anti-government activists and said that it’s exactly what forced him to defect from his family. He accused the monarchy of corruption and silencing all voices of dissent and explained how the Saudi mechanism for suppression functioned.
“There is no independent judiciary, as both police and the prosecutor’s office areaccountable to the Interior Ministry. This ministry’s officials investigate ‘crimes’ (they call them crimes), related to freedom of speech. So they fabricate evidence, don’t allow people to have attorneys”, the prince told RT Arabic. “Even if a court rules to release such a ‘criminal’, the Ministry of Interior keeps him in prison, even though there is a court order to release him. There have even been killings! Killings! And as for the external opposition, Saudi intelligence forces find these people abroad! There is no safety inside or outside the country.”
The strong wave of oppression is in response to the anti-government forces having grown ever more active. A new opposition group called Saudi Million and claiming independence from any political party was founded in late July. The Saudi youths which mostly constitute the movement say they demand the release of political prisoners and vow to hold regular demonstrations, announcing their dates and locations via Facebook and electronic newspapers.
Human rights violations are driving people on to the streets despite the fear of arrest, according to activist Hala Al-Dosari, who spoke to RT from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.