Jordanian police have arrested 12 activists for insulting the country’s King Abdullah II during a rally in Amman on Saturday, officials said.
The police official said the 12 activists – 11 men and one woman – were also being interrogated for disturbing public order by blocking traffic in an area of the capital near the prime minister’s office and foreign embassies, according to the Associated Press.
A police statement said that while Jordan allows peaceful protests, the government will “deal firmly” with violators of the law.
The 12 were among some 200 members of youth movements who demonstrated in Amman Saturday to demand the release of six men arrested at a protest in the southern city of Tafileh in mid-March and charged by military prosecutors with insulting King Abdullah II.
If convicted, the men face three years in prison each, according to the Agence France Press.
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On Friday the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the six pro-reform activists, at least three of whom were beaten by security forces during interrogations, the group claimed.
“Amnesty International believes them to be prisoners of conscience held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and that they are being punished for their pro-reform views and peaceful activities,” the NGO said in a statement.
Over the last 15 months Jordanians have taken to the streets to demand sweeping political and economic reforms and a greater say in their country’s government. But protests there have been mainly peaceful and much more low-key than demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries.
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