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Rights Group Charges Saudi Arabia Has Detained 160 Dissidents

Protesters shout slogans asking for the release of prisoners they say are held without trial, in Saudi Arabia's eastern Gulf coast town of Qatif, March 11, 2011

An international rights group is calling on Saudi Arabia to release what it says are more than 160 dissidents detained since February.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Christoph Wilcke speaks with VOA's Susan Yackee about the arrests:

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said the arrests violate international law. It accused Saudi Arabia's Western allies, including the United States and the European Union, of turning a blind eye to the Saudi detentions.

The group says many of those detained live in Eastern Province, where minority Shi'ite demonstrators have been holding protests demanding political reforms. The detained include writer and intellectual Nadhir al-Majid, arrested April 17.

The tightly-controlled kingdom has seen a smattering of anti-government protests as demonstrations for reform rock other parts of the Middle East.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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