UN rights experts decry repression in Saudi Arabia Jan 03, 2018 0 95 12345 REUTERSGENEVAUnited Nations human rights experts called on Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to end"repression" of rights activists and release dozens detained since September for peacefully exercising their civil and political rights.More than 60 prominent clerics, writers, journalists, academics and activists are reported to have been detained in a wave of arrests since September, they said in a joint statement.The crackdown on dissent has been denounced by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but strong criticism by the UN of the oil giant is rare.There was no immediate reaction from the Saudi government. Riyadh says it does not have political prisoners, but senior officials have said monitoring of activists is needed to maintain social stability."We are witnessing the persecution of human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and belief, as well as in retaliation for their work," the five independent experts said.They decried a"worrying pattern of widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detention" through the kingdom's use of counter-terrorism and security-related laws.Prominent Islamist preacher Salman al-Awdah, whom the UN experts described as a"reformist" and an influential religious figure who has urged greater respect for human rights within Sharia, is among those held, they said.They also named academic and writer Abdullah al-Maliki, entrepreneur Essam al-Zamel, and Abdulaziz Al Shubaily and Issa bin Hamid al-Hamid of the banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association as detainees."Despite being elected as member of the Human Rights Council at the end of 2016, Saudi Arabia has continued its practice of silencing, arbitrarily arresting, detaining and persecuting human rights defenders and critics," the experts said.The UN investigators have global mandates on arbitrary detention, human rights defenders, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of religion or belief, and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.The statement did not mention the arrests in November of some 200 princes, ministers and business leaders who were then held in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in what Riyadh said was a crackdown on corruption. Some have since been freed after they reached financial settlements with the government. POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES Israel law tightens hold on occupied Jerusalem sectors Jan 03, 2018 0 847 Algeria breast cancer survivors shunned as 'half-women' Jan 03, 2018 0 214 Iran's supreme leader blames enemies for spread of unrest Jan 03, 2018 0 94 Israel targets Hamas sites after Gaza rocket attack AFP Gaza City Israeli aircraft attacked Hamas bases in Gaza early on Tuesday in response to a rocket from the Palestinian enclave targeting southern Israel hours before, officials said. The aircraft targeted .. Iran reopens all border posts with Iraqi Kurdistan Iraq Iran on Tuesday reopened the last two border posts with Iraqi Kurdistan that it closed in response to an independence vote rejected by Baghdad and neighbouring countries, officials said. The Iranian consulate in .. Saudi minister back at work after graft detention Riyadh A Saudi minister who was detained in an anti-govt probe at a Riyadh hotel attended a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after he was"proven innocent", media reported. The official Saudi Press Agency posted on its Twitter .. Egypt files murder charges against Coptic church attack suspect CAIRO Egypt's public prosecutor has filed murder charges against a man accused of killing 11 people in an attack on a Coptic church and a Christian-owned shop in a Cairo suburb last week, judicial sources said. The .. Egypt hangs four convicted of 2014 bomb attack CAIRO Egypt has hanged four men convicted by a military court of killing three military students in a bombing in 2014, security sources said on Tuesday. It was the second reported multiple execution of convicted Islamist .. Egypt to extend state of emergency for 3 months CAIRO Egypt is to extend its nationwide state of emergency for three months from Jan. 13 to help tackle"the dangers and funding of terrorism", state news agency MENA said on Tuesday. Egypt first imposed the current state .. 2 shells from Syria hit southeastern Turkey: Anadolu ISTANBUL Two artillery shells from Syria hit Turkey's southeastern province of Hatay on Tuesday and Turkish border troops fired back, the state-run Anadolu agency said. The shells came from an area of Syria .. Iran reformists condemn violence and US support for protests Tehran Iran's reformist politicians on Tuesday condemned violence that has rocked the country in recent days, accusing the US of stirring unrest while still calling on their government to address economic ..