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Is Saudi Arabia Bombing Its Own Citizens?

1 KSA special forcesKSA special forces mired in an endless was with neighboring Yemen (Image: Twitter)

Marwa Osman
21st Century Wire 

Recently, a number of images and footage have emerged of Saudi government forces bombing, shelling, firing and bulldozing houses – not in neighboring Yemen, but in their own eastern province of Qatif in the Awamiyah town, a story which has been erupting on social media over the past week, as reports suggest that the Kingdom continues its crackdown on its own citizens.

Pictures purportedly from the scene circulating on social media showed smoke rising over the area, where bulldozers, excavators and police armored cars were stationed.

For a fourth day in a row starting May 10, the Saudi regime officials have imposed a curfew in the town of Awamiyah with frequent firing of bullets at houses, mosques and hospitals.

According to reports, the aggression escalated further when the Saudi regime forces raided the historic neighborhood of Al-Masoura in Al-Awamiya, and shot dead a two-and-a-half year old child and a young man.

Lebanon’s al-Ahed news website reported on Friday that the child, identified as Jawad al-Dagher, was killed on Thursday night while he was moving with his family near Awamiyah in Eastern Province. It added that the child’s mother was also critically injured.

The al-Ahed news report stated that a young man, identified as Ali Mohammad Kazim, was also shot dead at the hands of the Saudi forces in Awamiyah later on Friday. The news website also reported that the troops fired rocket-propelled grenades at al-Sayed Mohammad mosque in Awamiyah’s al-Masoura neighborhood, completely destroying it, while attacking another mosque in the district of al-Deira in the same village.

With more than 30,000 people living in the town of Awamiyah, the hometown of martyr Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, some activists are now reporting that Saudi regime has totally isolated the town with cement blocks and the situation is worsening as residents are now also suffering from food shortages and are deprived of medical aid. Hygiene management committees were also improvised in the besieged areas as a result of the designated Saudi company suspending its work in the region.

Other reports of cluster bomb usage have emerged on social media in a display of unexplainable aggression and animosity from authorities towards their own citizens. If true, this would follow a pattern of behavior by the regime in Riyadh, as last year Saudi Arabia was forced to admit their use of UK-made cluster bombs in neighboring Yemen.

To get a better picture of the situation inside the town of Awamiyah, I spoke with Mohammed Al Nimr, son of the martyr Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, senior Shia cleric executed by Saudi Arabia in January 2016.  Mohammed who is a human rights activist stated that the situation in Awamiyah where his family resides is horrific, “the whole town is under heavy weapons attack by the Saudi forces and the people are suffering under a barbaric regime that does not know any language except violence.” Mohammed even called the crackdown of the Saudi regime on the civilians in Awamiyah “a genocide” and he believes that this attempted genocide is taking place because the citizens of Awamiyah “dared to demand basic human rights and to be treated with dignity instead of humiliation.” They were given a choice to either live in humiliation or die in dignity and according to Mohammed, they chose the latter.

Why would the KSA bomb its people?

Saudi forces stormed the historic neighborhood, opening fire on the people who refused to leave their houses, a decision by Saudi authorities in a bid to destroy Al-Masoura’s houses.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar quoted local sources in Al-Awamiyah as saying a Saudi man and an Indian one were killed in the shooting as Saudi forces cordoned off the area, preventing people from evacuating the injured people.

The attack started at dawn on Wednesday May 10, with Saudi forces bringing bulldozers and other vehicles to raze some houses.

Al-Masoura is a neighborhood that comprises historic buildings in Al-Awamiya, in Qatif province, which lies in the Eastern province. The Saudi authorities have warned the residents to evacuate the area, claiming the destruction operation is aimed at building modern compounds to place the “buildings which are to fall.”

However, the residents argue that the buildings in Al-Masoura neighborhood are ancient structures that belong to the area’s historical memory, noting that the Saudi authorities can repair the building as they did with several areas across the Kingdom. In this context, Al-Masoura residents stress that the attack on their neighborhood amounts to collective punishment against the people in the region over their role in the peaceful demonstrations about demanding reforms in the Kingdom.

The current raid, which has not ended up to the point of writing this piece, has resulted in many human and material losses and attacks on unarmed women and civilians.

In March 2017 alone, Saudi forces carried out two raids that resulted in extrajudicial killing of three young men and other material losses.

On April 6th 2017, three experts from the United Nations on cultural rights, housing and extreme poverty called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamiyah as these actions violate international law.

The neighborhood which is of great interest for researchers and experts in the fields of heritage and archaeology was deemed by Karima Bennoune the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights of “importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamiyah, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” where “the planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.”

History of Saudi aggression in Qatif

This process by the Saudi authorities appears to be the largest of its kind. Tractors and demolishing equipment, supported by military vehicles, began to demolish houses in Mosawara district.

This is not the first military action Saudi authorities have undertaken in Awamiyah and the neighboring town of Qatif. Awamiyah, which as we mentioned before was the home of the executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, is identified as a center for resistance against the Saudi state.

When previous Arab Spring uprisings swept through the region, residents of Qatif and Awamiyah protested against the Saudi government. Police met the demonstrators with live ammunition that injured 24 men and three women.

In 2015, authorities clashed with residents in Awamiyah and street battles reportedly continued for several hours. One policeman was killed and over a dozen residents were wounded. Officials stated four “militants” were arrested in a security operation aimed at dealing with “terrorist elements” in Awamiyah.

However, this current raid is said to be worse than any before, due to its ongoing nature. The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) reported that the security forces closed additional entrances to the city with barricades in an indication that authorities intend to continue their raid until they demolish the largest possible number of houses and arrest or kills as many of the wanted persons as possible.

The Saudi government however claims it is hunting down wanted men accused of committing multiple crimes and is labeling them as terrorists. Conversely, on several occasions, the ESOHR has noted that the government, in an official manner, or through Twitter accounts affiliated with it, promptly charged people without investigation or trial, as well as without having any of them detained. ESOHR also stated that the Ministry of the Interior had described both the dead and detainees as “Saudis who have a criminal history and involved in terrorist acts and criminal attacks.” While in some previous raids, they even arrested living persons and executed them after the arrest.

Why are Saudi violations deemed acceptable?

As per the evidence presented above, even an individual with little to zero knowledge in human right laws should be gravely concerned that Saudi Arabia is committing grave violations under the pretext of prosecuting wanted persons and ‘combating terrorism’ – an allegation now excessively used by the Saudi regime to justify its grave violations, intimidation and aggression against its own citizens, and specifically in the Qatif province.

Even the families of the victims who are illegally detained and even executed cannot resort to any fair legal procedures.

If these actions by the Saudi regime are not deemed violations of human rights, then one might ask, “what is?”

Then again, why should the Saudi regime stop and think about it to begin with when it has the international community right there beside it – shaking one hand while it bombs its people with cluster bombs with the other?

1-Saudi-US-Arms-Syria

Despite its abysmal human rights record and rampant violations of international law, 2016-2017 was a record breaking year for arms sales to the Kingdom (Image: Twitter)

Western Conflicts of Interest (and Profit)

Even when presented with evidence the “civilized world” still refuses to acknowledge that their Gulf allies crackdown on their citizens and subject their detainees to severe torture, degrading treatment and brutal executions. On the contrary, the UK and Saudi Arabia are set to agree closer ties in areas including defense, security, intelligence and trade.

According to UK PM Theresa May, Britain is set to become a “leading partner” in the kingdom’s efforts to reform and modernize under its “Vision 2030” program. The British PM has time and again denied that the UK is selling its principles for trade deals, despite widespread criticism over UK arms deals with the Saudi regime.

Meanwhile the US is not any better. Consecutive US administrations has too often sacrificed human rights for other foreign policy objectives. With lately, a senior White House official stating that the United States is close to completing a series of arms deals for Saudi Arabia totaling more than $100 billion.

The official, who we’re told, spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the arms package could end up surpassing more than $300 billion over a decade to help Saudi Arabia boost its defensive capabilities.

Hence, why should the US or UK make any judgments over whether countries like Saudi Arabia have violated international humanitarian law when billions are at stake? Why should the international community care about Qatif or Yemen or Bahrain when Qatif is “owned” by their rich Arab friends, Yemen has loads of crude oil and natural gas, and Bahrain is home of the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy?

It is perfectly fine for humans to get killed by rogue regimes and homes to be raided using excessive force, as long as at the end of the day business is going well.

More images of potential unrest in Saudi pictured here:

https://twitter.com/Ahrar_TV/status/863302410936209408

READ MORE SAUDI NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire SAUDI Files

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