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Posts tagged ‘Protests in Hijaz’

Saudi police ‘open fire on civilians’ as protests gain momentum

BY PATRICK COCKBURN

WEDNESDAY 05 OCTOBER 2011

Pro-democracy protests which swept the Arab world earlier in the year have erupted in eastern Saudi Arabia over the past three days, with police opening fire with live rounds and many people injured, opposition activists say.

Saudi Arabia last night confirmed there had been fighting in the region and that 11 security personnel and three civilians had been injured in al-Qatif, a large Shia city on the coast of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. The opposition say that 24 men and three women were wounded on Monday night and taken to al-Qatif hospital.

The Independent has been given exclusive details of how the protests developed by local activists. They say unrest began on Sunday in al-Awamiyah, a Shia town of about 25,000 people, when Saudi security forces arrested a 60-year-old man to force his son – an activist – to give himself up.

Ahmad Al-Rayah, a spokesman for the Society for Development and Change, which is based in the area, said that most of the civilians hit were wounded in heavy firing by the security forces after 8 pm on Monday. “A crowd was throwing stones at a police station and when a local human rights activist named Fadel al-Mansaf went into the station to talk to them and was arrested,” he said.

Mr Rayah added that “there have been protests for democracy and civil rights since February, but in the past the police fired into the air. This is the first time they have fired live rounds directly into a crowd.” He could not confirm if anybody had been killed.

The Shia of Saudi Arabia, mostly concentrated in the Eastern Province, have long complained of discrimination against them by the fundamentalist Sunni Saudi monarchy. The Wahhabi variant of Islam, the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia, holds Shia to be heretics who are not real Muslims.

The US, as the main ally of Saudi Arabia, is likely to be alarmed by the spread of pro-democracy protests to the Kingdom and particularly to that part of it which contains the largest oil reserves in the world. The Saudi Shia have been angered at the crushing of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain since March, with many protesters jailed, tortured or killed, according Western human rights organisations.

Hamza al-Hassan, an opponent of the Saudi government from Eastern Province living in Britain, predicted that protests would spread to more cities. “I am frightened when I see video film of events because most people in this region have guns brought in over the years from Iraq and Yemen and will use them [against government security men],” he said. He gave a slightly different account of the start of the riots in al-Awamiyah, saying that two elderly men had been arrested by the security forces, one of whom had a heart attack.

“Since September there has been a huge presence of Saudi security forces in al-Qatif and all other Shia centers ” he said. Al-Qatif was the scene of similar protests in March, which were swiftly quashed by security forces.

The Saudi statement alleges that the recent protests were stirred up by an unnamed foreign power, by which it invariably means Iran. The interior ministry was quoted on Saudi television as saying that “a foreign country is trying to undermine national security by inciting strife in al-Qatif”. Saudi Arabia and the Sunni monarchies of the western Gulf have traditionally blamed Iran for any unrest by local Shia, but have never produced any evidence other than to point at sympathetic treatment of the demonstrations on Iranian television.

The 20 doctors in Bahrain sentenced to up to 15 years in prison last week say their interrogators tortured them repeatedly to force them to make false confessions that Iran was behind the protests. The counter-revolution in Bahrain was heralded by the arrival of a 1,500-strong Saudi-led military force, which is still there.

Mr Rayah, who flew from Saudi Arabia to Beirut to be free to talk about the protests, said: “People want a change and a new way of living.” He said that, in particular, they were demanding a constitution and a free assembly for the Eastern Province. He also wanted the Society for Development and Change legally registered.

Mr Hassan blamed the protests on the fact “that there has been no political breakthrough”.

“I am from the city of al-Safwa, which is very close to al-Awamiyah, and there is very high unemployment in both,” he said. Some 70 per cent of the Saudi population is believed to be under 30 and many do not have jobs. “We were hoping for municipal reforms and regional elections for years but we got nothing.”

He said reforms reported in the Western media were meaningless and that only a few Saudis had bothered to vote in the most recent local elections because local councils had no power.

Source: The Independent.

Link: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-police-open-fire-on-civilians-as-protests-gain-momentum-2365614.html.

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Saudi forces clash with protesters

Mon Oct 3, 2011

Security forces have clashed in Saudi Arabia with pro-reform protesters in the Qatif Governorate in the Eastern Province of the country, Press TV reports.

The Saudis had gathered in an anti-government demonstration in the province’s Awamiyah village, a Press TV correspondent reported. They chanted slogans against the province’s Governor, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, — the son of the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

Reports say the forces arrested a 70-year-old man, whose son had participated in the protests, demanding the son to surrender himself in exchange for his father’s release.

A larger demonstration is scheduled for Monday in the city of Qatif, where protesters often take to the streets despite a heavy security presence to condemn Riyadh’s role in the brutal crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Bahrain.

The Saudi demonstrators call for respect for human rights, implementation of further reforms, freedom of expression, and the release of political prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 16 years.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, known for its intolerance of dissent. Earlier in the year, the Saudi Interior Ministry imposed a ban on all kinds of demonstrations and public gatherings.

Human Rights Watch says hundreds of dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s suppression of anti-government protests.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subjected to physical and mental torture.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/202435.html.

Saudis want political prisoners released

Fri Sep 30, 2011

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have poured into the streets in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, demanding the immediate release of political prisoners.

Chanting slogans against the country’s absolute monarchy, demonstrators in the cities of Qatif and Awamiyah on Friday also expressed solidarity with anti-government protesters in neighboring Bahrain and condemned Manama’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The protests come despite tight security and a strict ban on all anti-government rallies.

Saudi activists say there are more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly Prisoner of conscience, in jails across the Kingdom.

According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trials or legitimate charges and they were arrested for merely looking suspicious.

Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years.

Attempting to incite the public against the government and the allegiance to foreign entities are usually the ready-made charges against political dissidents.

Families of political prisoners have repeatedly pleaded with the ruling monarchy to at least give their loved ones a fair trial. But for years now, the families say, the king has ignored their calls.

Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/202062.html.

Saudis protest police violence on women

Sat Sep 24, 2011

Saudi activists in the eastern city of Qatif have taken to the streets to rally against police harassing female protesters and in support for the ongoing Bahraini revolution, Press TV reported.

Scores of women had earlier on Saturday staged sit-in protests outside the local government office in the eastern province of Dammam, calling for the release of their relatives held in prison for years without any charge.

Protesters in Qatif had also rallied on Friday against the Al Saud regime’s brutal military intervention in Bahrain with the aim of crushing the popular uprising in the small Persian Gulf kingdom.

Both demonstrations took place despite the government’s strict ban on anti-regime rallies in the country.

Moreover, activists in Saudi Arabia say the country has jailed more than 30,000 political prisoners, most of them prisoners of conscious. Many were arrested merely for appearing suspicious and the majority of them are being held without trials or legitimate charges.

The families of political prisoners have repeatedly pleaded with the ruling monarch to at least give their loved ones a fair trial. However, the king has for years ignored their calls.

Over the past months, Saudi activists in the Eastern Province have staged several anti-government protests, demanding reforms and immediate release of political prisoners.

Their campaign for human rights reform, freedom of expression and political reforms ended with an unexpected outcome: the anti-terror law, which gives the ministry of interior superior powers to detain suspects incommunicado for up to 120 days amendable to indefinite extension.

The law also defines terror crimes as any action endangering national unity, an ambiguous definition which can even be extended to peaceful demonstrations.

Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees have been subjected to torture both physically and mentally.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201000.html.

Saudis protest meddling in Bahrain

Fri Sep 23, 2011

Saudi protesters have once again poured into the streets to rally against the Al Saud regime’s brutal military intervention in Bahrain, Press TV reported.

The protests in the eastern city of Qatif took place despite the government’s strict ban on anti-regime rallies in the country.

Saudis have on various occasions voiced their anger with Riyadh’s intervention meant to crush the popular uprising in the small Persian Gulf kingdom.

The protesters also slammed the high unemployment in the country and expressed frustration with the decades-long rule of the Al Saud dynasty which has a record of rights violation.

In mid-March, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed their military forces in crisis-hit Bahrain to assist the Manama regime in its severe suppression of anti-government protesters.

Scores of Bahrainis have been killed ever since.

Saudi Arabia’s eastern regions have been the scene of protests over the past months, and authorities have arrested scores of people including bloggers and writers for taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February in Saudi crackdowns on anti-government protesters.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/200725.html.

Anti-Israel protests held in Saudi Arabia

Fri Aug 26, 2011

As people across the world rally in support of Palestinians, thousands of anti-Israel protesters have taken to the streets in several Saudi Arabian cities and mark the International Quds Day.

Protesters in the town of Awamiyah in the al-Qatif region in the eastern province of the Middle Eastern country have burned the Israeli flag on Friday, witnesses said.

Protesters in the eastern city of Qatif have called on all citizens of the city to join the international rally.

Anti-Israeli protesters also voiced their support for the people of Bahrain and condemned their government for aiding the Al Khalifa regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful Bahraini protesters.

Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of protests over the past months and authorities have arrested scores of people, including bloggers and writers for taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February in the Saudi crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan was declared as the International Quds Day by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, in August 1979.

Millions of people around the world come out on this day to show support for the people of Palestine and to call for an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/195858.html.

Saudi Arabia threatens anti-regime protesters with iron fist

Tue Feb 21, 2012

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has defended the regime forces’ ruthless repression of anti-government protests and threatened to use an “iron fist” against protesters.

“It is the state’s right to confront those that confront it first… and the Saudi Arabian security forces will confront such situations … with determination and force and with an iron first,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

An interior ministry spokesman said the statement was released in reaction to a last week sermon delivered in the Qatif region in the Eastern Province, which took a swipe at the Saudi government’s handling of the protests.

Saudi authorities claim that the regime does not practice discrimination against the Shia minority, pointing a finger of blame at protesters.

Earlier on Thursday, several anti-regime protesters in the kingdom’s eastern province of Safwa were abducted.

Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the oil-rich Eastern Province, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

Saudi protesters also want an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region. Several demonstrators have been killed and scores of activists have been arrested since the beginning of protests in the region.

Riyadh has intensified its crackdown on protesters since the beginning of 2012.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/227806.html.

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