DUBAI - An international rights group urged Saudi Arabia on Sunday to stop prosecuting and punishing people for peaceful protests, after the kingdom charged 19 men for staging a sit-down demonstration outside a prison last month.
Security forces arrested dozens of men after the September 23 protest near Tarfiya prison in central Saudi Arabia to press for the release of detained relatives. Demonstrators and a rights activist said police had kept the protesters, including women and children, without food or water for nearly a day.
In a separate demonstration on the same day, dozens of protesters gathered in front of the government-linked Saudi Human Rights Commission also calling for the release of jailed relatives.
Human Rights Watch said the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution charged the 19 men on October 17 with "instigating chaos and sedition" and "gathering illegally."