01/25/2019, 10.54
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Arrests, violence, state killings: NGOs and activists denounce Riyadh and Tehran

Saudi Arabia and Iran are stepping up repression. In the Islamic Republic those who protest against poverty and corruption are jailed. Anti-hijab activists are also targeted. In the kingdom torture and abuse against dissident religious leaders.


Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Non-governmental organizations and human rights groups point the finger at Saudi Arabia and Iran, for strengthening the mesh of repression against activists, dissidents, critical voices and religious minorities of the two countries over the past year. This morning, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have appealed to Riyadh to allow access to independent observer prisons to assess the conditions of detainees.

Those detained include women's rights activists, dissident religious leaders and prominent personalities imprisoned in the anti-corruption campaign launched by hereditary prince Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs). The Arab state, an absolute Sunni wahhabite monarchy, does not allow street protests and denies there are political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. For Riyadh, the control of activism is fundamental to ensure social stability.

However, the Saudi repressions have attracted the attention of the international community and activist groups, targeted for their  criticism of  violence in Yemen with the death of civilians, even children, and the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A group of British parliamentarians also threatened to publish a report, in which evidence of ill-treatment and abuse in prison would emerge. If a visit is not authorized within the next week, the crown deputies warn, the British media will be allowed to spread the document's contents.

Amnesty International says it has documented 10 cases of torture and abuse against human rights activists. Reuters reported sexual violence, including electrocution and whipping, to four others. Human Rights Watch also calls for access to prisons holding princes and businessmen detained since November 2017 on the orders of Mbs.

The situation does not seem better in Iran, where in 2018 (source Amnesty) at least 7 thousand pro-human rights activists were arrested in the context of a "shameful campaign of repression". Protesters, students, lawyers, journalists, environmentalists, trade unionists and women's rights activists were targeted, especially those who struggle against the compulsory veil.

Hundreds of people were sentenced to prison and flogging. At least 26 demonstrators died in the context of street protests or in prison.

The repression wanted by the Iranian authorities has been thwarted by those who took to the streets before demonstrating against poverty, corruption and the lack of civil and social liberties. Chief among the causes that are pushing the country towards an increasingly widespread poverty are the US sanctions wanted by the Trump administration, following the cancellation of the nuclear agreement.

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