October 30, 2008
Saudi Hunger Strike - Your Thoughts
--By CNN's Octavia Nasr
Some brave Saudis are going on a hunger strike and they want you to join them.
These are no ordinary Saudis; they're the intellectuals of the ultraconservative kingdom. The human rights activists, the bloggers, and professional journalists and lawyers.
They have established a group on the social networking site FaceBook to raise awareness and recruit supporters. Their call is adding new members by the day and there is no telling yet how the Saudi government will respond.
The "movement" is lead by Saudis themselves after lawyers for 11 men detained by the government called for a 48-hour hunger strike in support of their clients. They attorneys claim that their clients have been detained with no clear charges and without the possibility of a trial anytime soon. .
What does the Saudi government say about all this? Nothing. We have been reporting this story for five months, and all attempts to confirm the detention of some of these men, the charges they face and an update on their status were met with silence.
So, in light of this latest development --- the call for a hunger strike --- we made another call to the Saudi Interior Ministry. They said what they've said before. "Call back in 30 minutes." When we called back at the agreed time, the answer was a resounding "No Comment."
Who are these eleven men? The list includes a former Judge and four former university professors.. All eleven are described as "human rights activists." The earliest detentions date back to February 2007.
The most recent person taken into custody is Professor Matrook H. Al-Faleh, political science professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, detained by security forces in May 19, 2008. His wife told CNN that she saw him last Saturday and that he "currently" is not on a hunger strike. She refused to comment further and asked us to speak to the lawyers instead.
In the FaceBook posting, the announcement of the hunger strike is coupled with a plea for "all activists and citizens who have conscious" to show "sympathy and solidarity" by joining in.
The FaceBook page indicates the group believes that their move is "daring" and "bold" in the defense of human rights.
Do you think this hunger strike will make a difference?
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