Pro-democracy activists in the Gulf region on Wednesday urged the monarchies to embrace democracy and freedom of expression. According to AFP, they also warned the authorities, especially in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, against cracking down on activists planning to carry out peaceful rallies, and called on the United Arab Emirates to free an activist detained a few days ago.
"We hope that the ruling families in the Gulf realize the importance of democratic transformation to which our people aspire," said a statement signed by the coordinator of the Gulf Civil Society Forum, Anwar al-Rasheed.
The Forum includes dozens of liberal intellectuals, academics, writers and rights activists the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The group also called for the ruling families to "understand that it is time to free all political detainees and prisoners of conscience and issue constitutions that meet modern day demands".
"The Gulf peoples look forward for their countries to be among nations supporting freedom, the rule of law and civil and democratic rule which have become a part of peoples' basic rights," the statement said.
The urged Bahraini to deal peacefully with a protest planned next Monday for the release of political prisoners and the resignation of the prime minister.