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Pro-democracy protesters at Saudi embassy

Date

Sarah Homewood

A group of about 50 people from as far as Sydney and Melbourne converged on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Yarralumla yesterday, protesting against an alleged government crackdown on pro-democracy movements in Bahrain.

Led by the Bahrain Australian Youth Movement, the group said the protest was sparked by the alleged arrest and imprisonment of children by Bahraini government forces.

The rally, which began outside the Saudi embassy at about 10am, was closely watched by a small contingent of police.

A protest organiser, Husain Alqatari, said: ''This protest today is about the crackdown happening in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia; we are here to support the people seeking freedom of speech, seeking human rights, freedom for women''.

No Saudi Arabian students were present at the protest, a fact that Mr Alqatari attributes to threats from the Saudi embassy.

''The embassy sent out a letter saying that if Saudi students were to come to the protest then the embassy would cancel their visas,'' Mr Alqatari said.

A spokesman for the embassy said he was unable to comment on the accusations or the protest.

The protesters weren't hopeful that the embassy would come out and address their demands.

''We have been trying to contact the embassy for a week and a half to talk to us but they haven't been answering,'' he said.

The protesters had originally planned to move to the US embassy later in the morning, but cancelled the second half of the protest, instead opting to begin the journeys back to Melbourne and Sydney.

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