Home » Reports » Saudi Arabia is leading a military operation in Awamiyah, terrorizing tens of thousands of civilians and opposing the United Nations demand of protecting the traditional Mosawara neighborhood

Saudi Arabia is leading a military operation in Awamiyah, terrorizing tens of thousands of civilians and opposing the United Nations demand of protecting the traditional Mosawara neighborhood

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia raided the city of Awamiyah at 3:40 am on Wednesday, 10 May 2017,  placing the city under siege by closing most of its outlets. The raid was carried out by a large number of heavily armed armored and military vehicles, accompanied by equipment to demolish the  heritage Mosawara. While Saudi Arabia normally uses special emergency forces for such raids, Twitter accounts appearing to be affiliated with or close to the Ministry of Interior have also referred to the use of National Guard forces and other forces.

The current raid, which has not ended up to the point of writing this report, comes in the background of increased raids previously reported by the European Saudi Human Rights Organization (ESOHR). These raids, have resulted in many human and material losses and attacks on unarmed women and civilians. In March 2017 alone, Saudi Arabia carried out two raids that resulted in extrajudicial killing of three young men and other material losses.

Thirty five days ago, three experts from the United Nations, called upon Saudi Arabia to halt the demolition and forced evictions operation in the Masawara neighborhood of Awamiya as these actions violate international law. 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. While many other vehicles belonging to security forces fire indiscriminately throughout the city of Awamiya endangering the lives of a population of nearly 30 thousand people.

We have been informed by local sources that security forces have killed the citizen Ali Abdul Aziz Abu Abdullah, injured an Asian worker working as a driver in the head while in his car, and caused other injuries reported to reach around 14, according to these sources. Injured persons in such raids usually avoid going to the hospital so as to avoid arrest, torture and unfair trials. They also told us that a girl was hit by shards of glass from the windows of the house, which was hit by random bullets. Another man was seriously injured in the shoulder. There are also many material losses, such as demolishing houses, burning and damaging cars, and vandalism of houses. According to the local sources, the Saudi government prevents any car from entering the city of Awamiyah, even ambulances, and this was revealed after a citizen contacted the ambulance that was prohibited from entering the city.

The Saudi government says it is hunting down wanted men accused of committing multiple crimes and is labeling them as terrorists. On several occasions, the organization 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.

The organization also asserts that Saudi Arabia does not have an independent judiciary or investigative body thereby making these bodies untrusted. The organization has followed some cases that were executed on January 2, 2016, including claimant of rights and justice Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, as well as minors and demonstrators. The organization found that the charges used in their execution were charges of reparation or coercion, or ones that have not been legally proven.

At approximately 4 pm, the Saudi forces closed additional entrances to the city with concrete barriers. Some residents see this as an indication of the intention to continue the raid until demolishing the largest number of houses possible and the arrest or killing of as many as possible of the wanted persons who have been chased for months. From time to time, a number of these wanted as well as other non-wanted persons have been killed  in an extrajudicial manner in the streets of densely populated neighborhoods.

For nearly six years, many Saudi writers and journalists have been writing in Saudi official newspapers a hundreds of articles and news reports that are offensive to the residents of Qatif and the city of Awamiyah and accusing them of being linked to Iran. Bloggers and Interior Ministry accounts on Twitter have consistently accused individuals from the city of Awamiya of criminal offenses before conducting any investigations or judicial decisions.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights believes that Saudi Arabia employs the term “counter-terrorism” in a way that violates basic human rights principles. This aims to cover its serious violations against the wanted persons and citizens in general. The organization also believes that Saudi security measures, which violate international law, escalate violations and increase human and material losses. There was no possibility of prosecuting the perpetrators of these violations at home as the Ministry of Interior is pursuing a policy of impunity, and protection of its security elements.

Photos of the raid on 10 May 2017

 

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