Prominent Saudi Activist goes on Hunger Strike

Mohammed al-Bajadi has long been a human rights activist in Saudi Arabia. Bajadi is credited with forming a coalition of loyal followers in the movement for civil and political rights. He is also the founder of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), an organization that the Saudi government refuses to recognize as a legitimate group.

In March of 2011, Bajadi was detained in the Qassim province following a protest over the detention of civilians accused of militant activity. Bajadi was charged with organizing the demonstration, supporting protests for pro-democracy and possession of illegal books.

According to members of ACPRA, Bajadi has gone on a hunger strike and is in deteriorating health as a result of refusing food and water. However, Mansour al-Turki, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, counteracted the statement and insisted that Bajadi is in fine health.

Over the weekend, ACPRA went public with a letter written by Bajadi that was smuggled out of prison by a visitor who was seeing another inmate. In the letter, Bajadi says that he is moving forward with his hunger strike. He also purported that he was force fed at a prison hospital.

Bajadi’s supporters have been barred from visiting him. They continue to report on his health and announced that his sugar levels have dropped to dangerous levels. The interior ministry, however, continues to refute these claims and insists that Bajadi has been consuming his meals.

While Saudi Arabia has largely escaped the conflicts that are occurring throughout most of the Arab regions, the country has been consistently slammed for human rights violations. It holds a notorious reputation for adopting a zero tolerance attitude towards political dissenters. A report estimates that there are currently 30,000 political prisoners being held without being formally charged. Saudi officials have refuted the estimate and deny that there are such inmates in detention.

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