17 Jun 2024
Saturday 29 July 2017 - 12:31
Story Code : 270160

Saudi Shias told to leave Awamiyah or die: Sources

Press TV - Local sources in the al-Awamiyah town in Saudi Arabias Shia-populated Eastern Province say the locals have beentold to either leave their homes or face death at the hands of security forces.

Since the early hours of Saturday, the Saudi forces have started taking the town under heavy shellfire, virtually barricading the public in their homes.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="555"] Picture taken on July 29, 2017 shows hours into the onset of heavy government shellfire against the eastern Saudi Arabian town of al-Awamiyah. (Twitter)[/caption]
The sources said sharpshooters were training their fire on various targets from atop rooftops and inside armored vehicles. Ali al-Debisi, the leader of a Europe-based Saudi rights body, said the locals are afraid of going outfor fear of coming under sniper fire.

Regimeforces, meanwhile, continued to evict people from their homes in the town, they said.

The Qatif region in the province, where the town is located, has witnessed sporadic deaths of security personnel at the hands of unknown gunmen.

Blaming the Shia population for the attacks, Riyadh first started ordering security raids against the region before besieging the town and subjecting it to a so-called renovation project.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="555"] Photo taken by local resident shows vehicles standing ready to demolish buildings in the town of al-Awamiyah in Saudi Arabias Eastern Province. (Twitter via Middle East Eye)[/caption]

The project, which has featured wholesale destruction of age-old structures and rampant raids against various targets, has especially targeted the towns historic Almosara neighborhood, where the government has been toughening living conditions in order to make people leave.

The sources said the forces were now offering people safe conduct to desert Almosara, and were combing the neighborhood for holed-up terrorists. Activists said the residents were resisting the eviction attempts.

On May 24, UN experts criticized the ongoing attempts to demolish Almosara and accused the Saudi kingdom of erasing cultural heritage, violating human rights, and forcing residents to flee their homes.

A month earlier, UN special Rapporteur Leilani Farha had warned that the controversial project threatened the historical and cultural heritage of Awamiyah with irreparable harm."

"Residents have been pressured in many ways, including through power cuts, to vacate their homes and businesses without adequate alternative resettlement options, leaving them at best with insufficient compensation and at worst, with nowhere to go, she said.

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