EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia, ISIL Plotting to Kill Prisoners in Eastern Province
The Saudi security forces have told prisoners’ families in Eastern province that ISIL has threatened to kill the prisoners held in Al-Sharqiya prison in an operation in the near future and “they can’t do anything about it”.
Prisoners’ families said the security officers have claimed in a meeting with them in Al-Sharqiya (Eastern) province that they do not have sufficient power to prevent or stand against any such operation by the ISIL.
Asked why they do not protect the Saudi prisons against ISIL’s threat, the security sources have responded that “we want to, but we cannot because of ISIL’s power”.
“The officers’ tone suggested very clearly that they intend to kill a large number of dissident prisoners with the help of the ISIL,” the families said.
One of the most famous prisoners of the Al Saud is prominent Shiite Cleric Sheikh al-Nimr Baqer al-Nimr who is facing execution amidst domestic and international opposition.
The Al Saud regime has engaged in large-scale arrests to defy popular demands in the mostly Shiite-populated al-Sharqiya region.
Nimr was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region in July 2012. His arrest sparked widespread protests in the kingdom, leaving several people dead.
There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province since 2011, with the protestors calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.
The Persian Gulf monarchy has come under fire from international human rights organizations, which have criticized it for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. Critics say the country shows zero-tolerance toward dissent.
In January, Joe Stork, the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Right Watch, slammed Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on activists in the kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia should free imprisoned activists and take other concrete, visible steps to show the government is willing to improve its abysmal rights record,” Stork said.
Stork also questioned the election of Saudi Arabia as a member of the Human Rights Council in November last year, saying that Riyadh has a record of repression and its membership is not warranted.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not allow any election.
On October 15, 2014, Nimr was sentenced to death at the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. In reaction to the sentence, people took to streets in the city of Qatif in Eastern Province to condemn the move.
Amnesty International has called the death sentence “appalling”, saying the verdict should be quashed.
Nimr was given the death sentence on charges of disturbing the kingdom’s security and making anti-government speeches.
He is the Imam of al-Awamiyya Mosque in Qatif and has spent most of his two-year detention in solitary confinement at the al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, according to Amnesty International.
Protesters have staged rallies worldwide to condemn the death sentence handed down to Sheikh Nimr, and have voiced solidarity with the dissident Saudi religious scholar.