People walk past the Mosque of Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Picture: 123RF/MOHD NASRULLAH AHMAD
People walk past the Mosque of Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Picture: 123RF/MOHD NASRULLAH AHMAD

Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking death sentences for human-rights activists, including for the first time a woman, say campaigners.

The five activists stand accused of inciting mass protests in mainly Shiite areas of the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

Human-rights groups claim that the execution threat is a calculated bid to stifle dissent.

It comes as Saudi Arabia takes an increasingly combative approach to international criticism, imposing sanctions on Canada after it spoke out earlier this month.

Female activist Israa al-Ghomgham, who has documented protests in Eastern Province since they began in 2011, would be the first woman activist to face the death sentence for rights-related work.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that she was arrested at her home along with her husband in December 2015.

"Israa al-Ghomgham and four other individuals are now facing the most appalling possible punishment simply for their involvement in anti-government protests," said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.

"We are urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to drop these plans immediately."

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AFP

Please sign in or register to comment.