Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Saudis Propose Prisoner Exchange

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
ÒYou release our prisoners here and we will release yours there,Ó the Saudi embassy official in Washington reportedly, though unofficially, told an American caller. Saudi diplomats have told US officials that a major fraction of the Afghan captives held in Guantanamo are Saudi citizens who should be tried at home. At the same time, in Saudi Arabia, the authorities have been accelerating a crackdown on foreign Christians, jailing them, torturing some, and promising deportation but being very slow about it in most cases. Fourteen men of various nationalities involved in home Bible studies were arrested in the Saudi capital Jeddah last summer and held without charges being filed. Eight of them were deported during January, while the others are still waiting in an overcrowded deportation prison that has about two square feet of floor space for each prisoner. Prisoners sleep in shifts. Toilets don't work and the food is often badly fouled. Worst treated have been three Ethiopians, who were beaten to the point of serious injury and whose local consulate representative may have been paid off by an Ethiopian expatriate known as an extortionist who preys on Ethiopian Christians. He is believed to have made the false accusations that led to the arrests in the first place. The most vicious treatment came after the three appealed to the consulate for help. (By contrast, the Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo have individual cells with standard U.S. military-issue field sleeping mats, 1-1/2 inches thick. They are fed 2,600 calories a day to remedy their malnutrition and are monitored by Red Cross representatives.) The roundup continues. Ten Indian Christians were arrested on January 16 at a private home Bible study in Jeddah. Their circumstances are unknown. (From Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

True, human beings must be treated in a humane way, even if they are war criminals, or otherwise labelled. But let the Òbleeding heartsÓ look away from Guatanamo for a few moments and look at what is happening in Saudi Arabia.

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