AMMAN: Saudi security forces arrested 164 Syrian expatriates who staged a rally in Riyadh in support of the five-month uprising in their homeland against the rule of President Bashar Assad, a Syrian human rights organization said Wednesday.
The 164 were arrested on Aug. 12 as they marched, spurred by a speech by King Abdullah days earlier during which he condemned Assad’s bloody crackdown, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Breaking months of silence by fellow Arab autocrats, King Abdullah had said the killings in Syria were unacceptable and called on Assad to “halt the machine of killing and the spilling of blood and resort to reason before it is too late.”
“After being dumbfounded by Arab silence over the killings and savage repression in their homeland, they went down to the streets to express support for the king as the first Arab ruler to express his opinion publicly about the situation in Syria,” Observatory director Rami Abdelrahman said in a statement.
“They deserve better treatment even if they have violated Saudi law that bans peaceful protest. They have seen 2,300 of their compatriots become martyrs and tens of thousands arrested since March just because they demanded their legitimate rights of freedom and dignity,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that bans any political opposition.