UK Prince urged to raise rights issues

Amnesty International has called on heir to the British throne Prince Charles to tell the “truth” about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record during his three-day visit to the Arab country this week.

The rights organization urged the Prince of Wales to raise human rights issues with the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz while there, The Daily Mirror reported on Monday.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will visit Saudi Arabia as part of a nine-day tour of the Middle East that began on March 11, with stops in Jordan, Qatar and Oman.

“We’re not going to try to fill Prince Charles’ luggage with Amnesty reports. But if he or Camilla were to voice their royal displeasure at reports that a young Saudi jewel thief is facing crucifixion in a matter of days, that surely is their prerogative,” said Kate Allen, the UK Director of Amnesty.

Amnesty’s concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia include, death penalty, freedom of speech and protests, torture, unfair trials and women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia, which is accused of brutal crackdown on peaceful anti-regime protests, is considered as Britain’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with bilateral trade worth more than £15 billion every year.

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”

SSM/MOS/HE