Saudi Arabia blocks human rights group website

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A regional human rights group on Tuesday denounced what it called Saudi intimidation, saying its website has been blocked by authorities in the conservative Gulf nation.

Attempts inside Saudi Arabia to access the Internet site of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (http://gc4hr.org) brought up a notice saying: "Sorry, the requested page is unavailable."

Still accessible outside Saudi Arabia, the center posted a message saying it "deplores the blocking of its website... by the Saudi authorities and considers it as a form of repression that is part of intimidation patterns that are being used persistently in the Kingdom these days."

It did not say what might have prompted the censorship, but said it occurred "at a time when human rights defenders are exposed to various kinds of harassment and arrests, arbitrary imprisonment and unfair trials that lack legal procedures and minimum international standards."

After Saudi police arrested on Monday two women on the UAE border for driving, the center published a report explaining the arrest and calling for authorities to release the detained, in a reminder of the oil-rich kingdom's violations of basic human rights.

Countless news websites are blocked in Saudi Arabia, including Al-Akhbar.

Meanwhile, a court in Saudi ally and neighbor Bahrain on Monday sentenced in absentia the director of the center, Maryam al-Khawaja, to a year's jail for allegedly assaulting police.

Khawaja, daughter of jailed Bahraini Shia opposition figure Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, refused to attend the hearing, saying a fair trial was not possible.

London-based watchdog Amnesty International said last month that Saudi authorities "have sought to stamp out all critical voices demanding peaceful reform."

In February, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that Gulf monarchies, fearful of unrest, have stepped up efforts to monitor and control the media, particularly online.

Saudi Arabia, which is on the group's "Enemies of the Internet" list, has been particularly aggressive in policing the Internet, including by arresting those who post critical articles or comments, RSF said.

Scores of Saudis have been arrested over the years for posting content critical of the Wahhabi regime on Twitter and other social media outlets.

Saudi judges have this year passed death sentences on five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, for their part in protests.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

It would be interesting to report which country in the region are practising Internet censorship and on which subject.

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