World Bulletin / News Desk
Dozens of Saudis staged a rare protest on Monday against the detention of relatives held without trial for security offences in a country that escaped last year's Arab Spring unrest but has faced criticism for its human rights record.
Up to 50 people, including eight women, stood quietly outside a prosecutor's office by the side of a Riyadh road watched by uniformed policemen sitting in three police cars.
Human rights groups have also accused the government of using its campaign against suspected fighters to imprison political dissidents.
Saudi Arabia says it has no political prisoners and last year said it had put on trial 5,080 of nearly 5,700 people it had detained on security charges since a series of attacks against foreign and government targets in 2003.
The Saudi embassy in London in December responded to an Amnesty International report that the authorities justified cracking down on dissent by citing security concerns by saying it was based on inaccurate information.
The protesters included adolescents and elderly people. They stood in a tight group without waving placards or shouting slogans. One woman, holding a walking stick, sat on a chair.
"My brother told me he was taken to court last year but it was a secret trial and they didn't let him choose his own lawyer. It's been over a year and we still don't have the result of the trial. In my opinion this trial is nothing but a show," said a protester, who did not want to be named for fear of arrest.
He said his brother had been arrested 11 years ago after returning from Afghanistan where he had gone to fight and that he complained of being beaten in detention.
A spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry was not immediately available to comment but the government has repeatedly denied using torture.
The women protesters wore traditional face-covering veils and many of the men, who also wore traditional dress, also covered their faces with their red-and-white checked Arab scarves, seemingly to hide their identities.
Saudi Arabia escaped the unrest that hit Arab states last year, sweeping the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen from power, destabilising Bahrain and causing civil war in Syria.
Soon after the revolution in Egypt, Saudi King Abdullah ordered $110 billion in social spending on benefits such as new housing and unemployment aid, while powerful religious leaders told their followers not to protest.
Despite persistent demonstrations from members of its Shi'ite Muslim minority that have continued into 2012 and a facebook campaign last spring calling for a "day of rage" the country's Sunni majority mostly stayed off the streets.
However, there have been some small protests outside Shi'ite areas since the start of last year over specific issues.
In January 2011 unemployed teachers protested in Riyadh and in Jeddah residents of an area hit by floods also demonstrated. Detainees' relatives protested in February and June last year.
In March this year thousands of students at an all-female university in Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia, boycotted lectures after police broke up a protest by some of their classmates over poor campus services.
The magnitude 7.5 quake was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of the beach resort of Acapulco
Boko Haram has not commented on Monday's mass abduction, but many fear the kidnapped teenagers could wind up as sex slaves.
Homs has since evolved into a symbol of the destructive nature of Syria's civil war, with many of its neighbourhoods levelled by army bombardment
4,000 residents and their 30,000 animals have been transferred 20 kilometers away from the area.
Israeli police said that the move has been taken upon an intelligence tipoff about Palestinian plans to stage demonstrations following the prayers.
Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia gave no details and Kiev has threatened to use force before to little effect.
President Moncef Marzouki declared Mount Chaambi a closed military zone two days ago, suggesting the possibility of a major offensive against militant refugees there.
Thursday's attack on the U.N. base at Bor, some 120 miles north of the capital of Juba, was blamed on locals who were seeking to punish the Nuer for the loss of Bentiu.
A boat in Indonesian Good Friday procession sank in the Gonzalu Strait in the country's east; Dozens of other boats were forced to turn around and pluck victims out of water.
Presidential hopefuls need to collect written endorsements from 25,000 eligible voters to be able to run for president, according to the newly-approved constitution.
73 men, 32 women and 11 children were murdered by Croatian Defense Council (CDC) forces on that tragic day of April 16, 1993.
Under the terms of a political settlement signed in 2000, the reconciliation body is supposed to establish the truth about the conflicts afflicting Burundi since independence.
Salva Kiir, who arrived in Addis Ababa on a one-day visit on Thursday, reiterated that his government supports the construction of the Ethiopian dam.
Ten rebels and two civilians were killed in the clashes in the Diyala province.
Pro-Russian separatists occupying public buildings in eastern Ukraine reacted to an international accord to defuse the crisis by saying they would not agree to leave the sites before other major conditions were met.
None of the major parties, including Prabowo's Gerindra party, won enough votes in the April 9 parliamentary election in the world's third-largest democracy to be able to nominate a presidential candidate alone