2017–19 Qatif unrest

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2017–19 Qatif unrest
Part of the Qatif conflict
Date12 May 2017[1] – present
(1 year, 8 months and 1 week)
Location
Status Ongoing
Belligerents
 Saudi Arabia Shia minority
Casualties and losses
12 killed (Saudi claim) 5 killed (activists' claim)
12–25 civilians killed (activists' claim)[2]
Thousands of civilians displaced[3]

The Qatif unrest is an ongoing (as of 2019) conflict in the Qatif region of Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, between the Saudi Government and Shia community.[4] It began after an incident on 12 May 2017, when a child and a Pakistani man were shot and killed.[5] The detention of Qatif human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband and the possible beheading of al-Ghomgham as the first Saudi woman to be executed for her human rights activities gained international attention during 2018.[6][7][8]

Background[edit]

On 15 October 2014, Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialised Criminal Court for "seeking 'foreign meddling' in Saudi Arabia, 'disobeying' its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces".[9] Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International stated that the death sentence was part of a campaign by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to crush all dissent, including those defending the rights of the Kingdom's Shi'a Muslim community.[10] Nimr al-Nimr's brother, Mohammad al-Nimr, tweeted information about the death sentence[9] and was arrested on the same day.[10] The head of Iran's armed forces warned Saudi Arabia that it would "pay dearly" if it carried out the execution.[11]

In March 2015 the Saudi Arabian appellate court upheld the death sentence against al-Nimr.[12] On 25 October 2015, the Supreme Religious Court of Saudi Arabia rejected al-Nimr's appeal against his death sentence. During an interview for Reuters, al-Nimr's brother claimed that the decision was a result of a hearing which occurred without the presence or notification of al-Nimr's lawyers and family. Al-Nimr's brother still remained hopeful that King Salman would grant a pardon.[13][14][15] Nimr al-Nimr was executed along with 46 others on 2 January 2016.[16]

Low-level conflict and legal cases[edit]

From May 2017[17][18] through to mid-2018,[19] several incidents occurred in which Qatif residents and/or Saudi policemen were killed.

In early December 2017, Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem were arrested in their home[6][20] and detained in the Dammam al-Mabahith prison.[21] They were charged for their activities in relation to participation and documentation of the Qatif political protests.[21] On 6 August 2018, the prosecutor in their case recommended that they be executed, making al-Ghomgham the first Saudi women to be sentenced to death for human rights campaigning, according to Saudi activists.[7][8] Al-Ghomgham and her husband's potential death sentence gained international attention, with support for their case from Shia Rights Watch,[20] the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights,[7] Amnesty International,[22] and Global Affairs Canada.[23] Al-Ghomgham's final sentencing for confirming of rejecting the proposed death penalty was planned for 28 October 2018.[6]

Timeline[edit]

2017[edit]

  • 12 May – Saudi soldiers shot and killed a two-and-a-half-year-old child and a young man in the town of Awamiyah.[17] Lebanon's al-Ahed news claimed that the mother of the child was critically injured. However, the Saudi Government claimed that terrorists were responsible for the incident.[18]
  • 16 May – A Saudi soldier was killed and five more were wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in a district of al-Awamiya in operations to counter the militants.[24]
  • 1 June – Two people were killed in a car explosion in Al-Qatif just before Maghrib prayers. Three men involved in the attack managed to escape and are currently being hunted by security officers in the area.[25]
  • 11 June – One soldier was killed and two wounded after a bomb attack in the town of Al-Awamiyah.[26]
  • 4 July – A Saudi policeman was killed and three others injured by an explosive device in a flashpoint Shiite-dominated city.[27]
  • 6 July – A Saudi policeman was killed and six others injured by an explosive device next to a police patrol in the village of Al-Awamiyah near Al-Qatif.[28]
  • 14 July – A Saudi soldier was killed and another was wounded in a shooting attack on their patrol vehicle in Qatif province.[29]
  • 26–27 July – five people killed during Police raids in Awamiya, according to activists.[30]
  • 30 July – A Saudi police officer was killed and six others wounded when a patrol came under attack in the town of Awamiya.[31]
  • 3 August – A Saudi citizen was killed and another injured during an operation to secure families wishing to leave Awamiya, after an armed attack by terrorists on a bus.[32]
  • 7 November – Saudi security staff killed in Qatif.[33]
  • 6 or 8 December – human rights activists Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband arrested.[6][20]
  • 19 December – Al Arabiya sources confirmed that terrorist Salman Ali Salman al-Faraj was killed in Awamiya, eastern province of Saudi Arabia, after confrontations with the police forces.[34]
  • 19 December – The body of Shiite Sheikh Mohammed al-Jirani, who had been kidnapped a year earlier by Shiite militants in the Eastern Province, was found in Qatif during a security raid.[35]

2018[edit]

  • 16 January – The Saudi Presidency of State Security announced that wanted fugitive Abdullah Mirza al-Qallaf was killed in a security operation in al-Qatif.[36]
  • 5 April – A Saudi soldier was killed in a raid against militants in the city of Al-Awamiyah in the eastern province of Qatif in Saudi Arabia. Several weapons and explosives were found. The security forces foiled terrorist attacks after the operation.[19]
  • 6 August – prosecutor calls for death penalty for Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband.[7][8]
  • 28 Octoberscheduled date of final sentence for Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband.[7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Saudi police officer killed in restive Eastern Province". PressTV. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  2. ^ McKernan, Bethan (4 August 2017). "Inside the Saudi town that's been under siege for three months by its own government". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Unrest in Saudi Arabia town displaces thousands". Al Jazeera. 13 August 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Awamiya: Inside Saudi Shia town devastated by demolitions and fighting". BBC News. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Two, including infant, killed after 'terror shootout' in Saudi Arabia's Qatif". Al Arabiya. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Saudi Prosecution Seeks Death Penalty for Female Activist". Human Rights Watch. 21 August 2018. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Brennan, David (21 August 2018). "Who Is Israa al-Ghomgham? Female Saudi Activist May Be Beheaded After Death Sentence". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Graham-Harrison, Emma (22 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty against female human rights activist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 September 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr 'sentenced to death'". BBC News. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b ""Saudi Arabia: Appalling death sentence against Shi'a cleric must be quashed"". Amnesty International. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  11. ^ "The Shia in Saudi Arabia: The sword unsheathed". The Economist. 18 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Saudi Appeal Court Upholds Sheikh Nimr's Death Sentence". Tasnim News Agency. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Saudi court upholds death sentence for Shi'ite cleric". Reuters. 25 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Saudi Arabia top court confirms death sentence of Shiite Muslim Cleric". JURIST. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Saudi Arabia court confirms Shia cleric death sentence". Al-Jazeera. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Saudi Arabia executes 47 on terrorism charges". Al Jazeera English. 2016-01-03. Archived from the original on 2016-01-03. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  17. ^ a b "Saudi soldier killed as eastern province unrest continues". The Naw Arab. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Pakistani worker, Saudi minor killed in Qatif terror attack". Dunya News TV. 13 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Saudi soldier killed in Qatif province, Al Arabiya reports". The National. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  20. ^ a b c "First Woman to be sentenced to Death Penalty in S.A". Shia Rights Watch. August 2018. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia 'seeks death penalty for woman activist'". BBC. 22 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Saudi prosecutors call for beheading of female human rights activist". NewsComAu. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  23. ^ Chase, Steven; Yousif, Nadine (21 August 2018). "Canada criticizes Saudi Arabia over another jailed female activist". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Saudi soldier killed five wounded in restive Qatif province". The Jerusalem Post. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Car filled with explosives rocks Qatif in Saudi Arabia's eastern province". Al Arabiya. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Saudi Arabia soldier killed in Qatif bomb blast". Al Jazeera. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  27. ^ "Saudi Policeman Killed by Explosive Device". Naharnet. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Saudi policeman killed, 6 wounded in Qatif bomb attack". Arab News. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Saudi soldier killed, another wounded in restive Qatif province". Reuters. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  30. ^ "At least five dead during Saudi security operation in Qatif: activists". Reuters. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Policeman killed, six wounded in eastern Saudi Arabia attack | News , Middle East". The Daily Star. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Saudi man killed, another wounded in Awamiya terrorist attack". Al Arabiya. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  33. ^ "Saudi security man killed in Qatif". Saudi Gazette. 2017-11-06. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  34. ^ "Most wanted man in Qatif attack killed in Saudi Arabia". Al Arabiya English. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  35. ^ "Who is the Saudi Shiite judge found killed by his Shiite terrorist compatriots?". Al Arabiya English. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  36. ^ "Saudi State Security: Fugitive Killed in Security Operation in Qatif | Asharq AL-awsat". Aawsat.com. 2018-01-16. Retrieved 2018-07-05.