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2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests

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2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests

2011–14 Saudi Arabian protests
Part of the Arab Spring
Date 11 March 2011 – ongoing
(4 years and 4 days)
Location Saudi Arabia
Causes
Goals
Methods
Status Ongoing
Concessions
given
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures

Human Rights Defenders

Independent Opposition leaders

King Abdullah
King of Saudi Arabia
Prince Salman
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Prince Nayef
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia (until June 2012)

Prince Muhammad
Interior Minister
Number
Protesters: Thousands[26][27]
Online campaign: 26,000[28]
Casualties
Deaths: 17 identified
Injuries: 100+[29]
Arrests: Riyadh: 50;[30][31][32] East Province: 145[15]
Deaths: 1 ident.

The protests in Saudi Arabia were influenced by the [38][39] Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad,[22] was allegedly killed by Saudi security forces on 2 March,[22][23][24] with several hundred people protesting in Qatif, Hofuf and al-Amawiyah on the day itself.[40] Khaled al-Johani demonstrated alone in Riyadh,[40] was interviewed by BBC Arabic Television, was detained in `Ulaysha Prison,[41][42] and became known online as "the only brave man in Saudi Arabia".[41] Many protests over human rights took place in April 2011 in front of government ministry buildings in Riyadh, Ta'if and Tabuk[43][44][45] and in January 2012 in Riyadh.[46]

Protests against the government and calling for prisoners held without nonviolent resistance[77] and called for all Shia and Sunni detainees to be freed.[78] A protestor and a soldier were fatally shot in Qatif during a 3–4 August protest,[79] leading to more protests.[80][81][82]

Protests and sit-ins calling for political prisoners[83] to be released spread beyond the Eastern Province to protests at the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh on 20 March[84] and in Riyadh and Buraidah in December 2011,[53][85][86] and in July and August 2012 in front of the Ministry in Riyadh,[87][88] in Mecca[89] in Ta'if,[90] in Buraidah,[91] and near al-Ha'ir Prison.[92][93][94]

Women organised a Facebook women's right-to-drive campaign, with the main action to take place on 17 June.[3][96] In late September, Shaima Jastania was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving in Jeddah, shortly after King Abdullah announced women's participation in the 2015 municipal elections and eligibility as Consultative Assembly members; King Abdullah overturned the sentence.[97][98] Al-Sharif and Samar Badawi filed lawsuits against Saudi authorities in the Grievances Board, a non-Sharia court,[99] because of the rejection of their driving licence applications.[100] Women university students protested in King Khalid University (KKU) in Abha in March 2012[101] and were attacked by security forces, leading to one death.[102][103] Other university protests followed in Taibah University in Medina[104] and Tabuk University in March and April.[105][106] KKU students called for the university president to be dismissed. He was replaced on 1 July 2012.[20]

Protests timeline

January–April 2011

Protests started with a 65-year-old man's self-immolation in [22] (or Abdul-Ahadwas[23]), was alleged to have been killed by Saudi security forces on 2 March,[23][24] by which time one of the Facebook groups discussing the plans had over 26,000 members.[28] On 11 March, several hundred people protested in Qatif, Hofuf and al-Amawiyah.[40] Khaled al-Johani demonstrated in Riyadh despite a massive police presence,[40] was interviewed by BBC Arabic Television, and has since then been detained in 'Ulaysha Prison.[41][42] Al-Johani became known online as "the only brave man in Saudi Arabia".[41]

The Human Rights First Society called for ACPRA co-founder Mohammed Saleh Albejadi to be released following his arbitrary arrest in Buraidah on 21 March by Mabahith, the internal security agency.[108][109] In April, several small protests over labour rights took place in front of government ministry buildings in Riyadh, Ta'if and Tabuk.[43][44][45] Protests, made up mainly of Shia protestors, continued in late March and April in Qatif and smaller cities in the Eastern Province such as al-Awamiyah, and Hofuf.[37][26][27][47] The protestors called for the release of prisoners, for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain,[11][51] for equal representation in key offices and for reforms in political positions, as they feel marginalised.[47]

In response to the 22–23 March announcement of women's suffrage campaign called "Baladi", stating that Saudi Arabian law gives women electoral rights.[95] In April, women in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam tried to register as electors for the 22 September municipal elections despite officials stating that women could not participate.[95][2]

May–December 2011

Poster for the Saudi Arabia's women to drive movement, artwork by Carlos Latuff.

In May and June, motivated by the women's right-to-drive campaign, with the main action to take place on 17 June. Al-Sharif drove a car in May and was detained on 22 May and from 23‒30 May.[3][96][111] Other women also drove cars, including actress Wajnat Rahbini, who was arrested after driving in Jeddah on 4 June and released a day later.[112] From 17 June to late June, about seventy cases of women driving were documented.[113][114][115] In late September, Shaima Jastania was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving in Jeddah, shortly after King Abdullah announced women's participation in the 2015 municipal elections and eligibility as Consultative Assembly members. King Abdullah cancelled the sentence.[97][98]

From 17 June to late June, more than seventy cases of women driving were documented.[113][114][115] Protests in the Qatif region continued in May[48][49][50] and in October protests, police shot live ammunition at protestors.[13] The protestors called for Eastern Province to have its own constitution and legislative assembly, and for their association Society for Development and Change to be legally registered.[13] In late November, Nasser al-Mheishi, Ali al-Felfel, Munib al-Sayyed al-'Adnan and Ali Abdullah al-Qarairis were shot dead by security forces in the Qatif region in successive protests and funerals.[53][116][117][118] The protests continued in December.[119]

Hundreds of people protested n Riyadh and Buraidah in December, calling for the release or trial of prisoners.[53]

January–June 2012

A protest for labour rights took place in Riyadh on 14 January[46] and a sit-in calling for the Syrian Ambassador to be expelled occurred on 5 February in Jeddah.[120]

Protests in the Qatif region continued from January to May,[121] with security forces using live fire against protestors,[57][122][123] killing four, and arresting medical personnel.[124] Security forces shot dead Issam Mohamed Abu Abdallah in al-Awamiyah on 12[54] or 13 January,[55] Montazar Sa'eed al-Abdel in al-Awamiyah on 26 January,[56] and Munir al-Midani[57][58] and Zuhair al-Said[59][60] on 9 and 10 February. In the 70,000 strong funeral for Abdallah on 16 January in al-Awamiyah and the daily Qatif region protests that followed, protestors chanted slogans against the House of Saud and Minister of Interior, Nayef, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.[61][62][125] In mid-February, two medical personnel were arrested for having clandestinely treated injured protestors.[124] In a 10 February protest and a 13 February funeral, an effigy of Nayef was thrown at tanks and participants described Nayef as a "terrorist", "criminal" and "butcher".[63] Police described two of the fatal shootings as responses to unidentified gunmen who had shot first.[59][64]

Manal al-Sharif and Samar Badawi, active in the women to drive movement, announced that they had filed lawsuits against Saudi authorities in the Grievances Board, a non-Sharia court,[99] because of the rejection of their driving licence applications.[100] As of the end of June 2012, 100 Saudi women had started driving regularly since the June 2011 campaign launch.[126] Women university students protested in King Khalid University in Abha in March[101] and were attacked by security forces, leading to one death.[102][103] Other university protests followed in Taibah University in Medina[104] and Tabuk University in March and April.[105][106]

July–August 2012

In July 2012, Amnesty International protested in the United Nations Human Rights Council against legal persecution of Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) leaders.[127] Ten female activists were detained in a Buraidah 14 July protest[85][86] calling for political prisoners[83] to be freed. Similar protests calling for prisoners to be freed and protesting against the Saudi government occurred in Buraidah on 23 July and in front of the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh on 25 July,[87][88] in Riyadh and Mecca on 28 July,[89] in Ta'if.[90] in Buraidah,[91] near al-Ha'ir Prison[92][93][94] and in Dammam[128] in August.

In July and August 2012, protests in the nonviolent resistance.[77] Protester Mohamed al-Shakhouri was shot in the back and neck and arrested in a 26–27 July protest calling for al-Nimr's release.[129] Further protests called for all Shia and Sunni detainees to be freed,[78] including al-Shakhouri.[130] A protestor and a soldier were fatally shot in Qatif during a 3–4 August evening human rights protest,[79] leading to several more protests.[80][81][82]

2014

In early 2014, conflict between protestors and the security forces continued, with Qatif being "a militarised zone, surrounded by checkpoints and armoured vehicles". A Saudi journalist who had been documenting the protests for two years for the BBC left Saudi Arabia as she judged the situation "too risky for [her] to continue investigating."[131] Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court on 15 October 2014 for "seeking 'foreign meddling' in [Saudi Arabia], 'disobeying' its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces".[132]

In November 2014, unknown assailants in al-Ahsa governorate in the Eastern Province attacked a procession during Ashoura and killed eight Shias, including children, and left over 30 people wounded. The following week deputy governor of the province, Emir Jalwi bin Abdulaziz, was sacked by a royal decree and transferred to the Najran region. However, no official reason was given.[133]

Casualties

Deaths

Notable deaths (protesters)
Name Age From Date of Death Cause of Death
Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad[22] (or Abdul-Ahadwas)[23]
(Administrator of Facebook group calling for 11 March "Day of Rage", according to DPA)[22][23]
27[23] Riyadh[23] Before 2 March 2011[22][23] Shot by the Saudi security forces, who removed his body to "hide evidence of the crime".[23][24]
Nasser al-Mheishi[116][134] (or Nasir al-Muhaishi)[53] 19[117] Al-Shweika[117] 20 November 2011 Shot by the police during a protest.[53][116]
Ali al-Felfel[116] 24[118] Al-Shweika[135] 21 November 2011 Shot in the chest by police during a funeral for Nasser al-Mheishi.[53][116]
Munib al-Sayyed al-Adnan[118] 20[118] Al-Shweika[118] 23 November 2011 Shot in the head by police during protest over al-Mheishi and al-Felfel killings.[53]
Ali Abdullah al-Qarayrees[118] 26[118] Al-Awamiyah[136] 23 November 2011 Shot by police during protest over al-Mheishi and al-Felfel killings.[53]
Issam Mohamed Abu Abdallah[54] 22[54] Al-Awamiyah[54] 12 January 2012 Shot by security forces during protest.[54][55][137]
Montazar Sa'eed al-Abdel[56] Al-Awamiyah[56] 26 January 2012 Shot by security forces during protest.[56]
Muneer al-Midani[58] 21[64] Al-Shweika[57][58] 9 February 2012 Shot in the heart by security forces during protest.[58]
Zuhair al-Said[59] (or Zaheer Abdullah Saeed)[138] 21[60] Al-Awamiyah[59] 10 February 2012 Shot in the stomach by security forces during protest,[59] died in hospital.[138]
Hajer al-Yazidi[103] Abha[102] 7 March 2012 Epileptic student injured in head during protest, died of head wound.[102]
Akbar Hassan al-Shakhouri[67][139] 31[140] Al-Awamiyah[66] 8 July 2012 Shot by security forces during protest over the arrest of Nimr al-Nimr.[66]
Mohamed Redha al-Felfel[67][139] 18[140] Al-Awamiyah[66] 8 July 2012 Shot by security forces during protest over the arrest of Nimr al-Nimr.[66]
Abdallah Jaafar al-Ojami[141] 18[141] Al-Awamiyah[69] 13 July 2012 Shot by security forces near a police station during protest.[69]
Hussain Yusuf al-Qallaf[142][143] 18[142] Tarout Island[142] 4 August 2012 Shot in the chest by security forces during protest on 3 August, died of injuries on 4 August.[143]
Khaled Abdulkarim al-Labad[144] 26[145] Al-Awamiyah[146] 26 September 2012 Shot in the head by security forces while authorities were trying to arrest him, he was one of 23 opposition activist accused of organising protests in Qatif.[144][147]
Mohammed Habib al-Mnasif[148] 16[148] Al-Awamiyah[146] 26 September 2012 Shot by security forces while authorities were trying to arrest Khaled Abdulkarim al-Labad.[148][149]
Hassan Mohammad Zaheri[150] 16[151] Al-Awamiyah[151] 28 September 2012 Shot by security forces while authorities were trying to arrest Khaled Abdulkarim al-Labad on 26 September, died of injuries on 28 September.[150][151]
Ahmad al-Matar[152] 18[153] Tarout Island[153] 28 December 2012 Shot by security forces during protest over the detention of prisoners.[152]
Ali Hassan al-Mahroos[154] 19[155] Qatif[156] 21 June 2013 Shot in his car by a stray bullet by police when they fired at another person on a motorbike.[155]
Notable deaths (security forces)
Name Age From Date of Death Cause of Death
Hussein Bawah Ali Zabani[79] 20 or 21[157] Al-Malha[157] 4 August 2012 Shot by "rioters on a motorbike" in Qatif according to Ministry of Interior spokesperson Mansour al-Turki.[79]

Others

On 21 January 2011, an unidentified 65-year-old man died after setting himself on fire in the town of Samtah, Jizan. This was apparently the kingdom's first known case of self-immolation.[158]

On 21 November 2011, a 9-year-old girl was shot dead in a demonstration in Qatif along with Ali al-Felfel, during the funeral for Nasser al-Mheishi.[159]

On 8 July 2012, an unidentified demonstrator was killed by the security forces along with Akbar Hassan al-Shakhouri and Mohamed Redha al-Felfel, during a protest against the arrest of Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi authorities.[67]

On 10 September 2012, a Bangladeshi man was shot dead in the [160]

Response

Domestic

On 10 February, a Reuters report claimed that 10 intellectuals, human rights activists and lawyers came together to create the Umma Islamic Party – considered to be the first political party in Saudi Arabia since the 1990s – to demand the end of absolute monarchy in the country.[161] On 18 February however, all ten members of the party were arrested and ordered to withdraw demands for political reform in exchange for their release.[162]

On 23 February, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, after returning to the country following three months spent abroad for health treatment, announced a series of benefits for citizens amounting to $10.7 billion. These include funding to offset high inflation and to aid young unemployed people and Saudi citizens studying abroad, as well the writing off some loans. As part of the Saudi scheme, state employees will see their incomes increase by 15 percent, and additional cash has also been made available for housing loans. No political reforms were announced as part of the package, though the 86-year-old monarch did pardon some prisoners indicted in financial crimes.[163]

On 6 March, the Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars, headed by Grand Mufti Abd al-'Aziz al-Ashaikh, issued a fatwā (religious opinion) opposing petitions and demonstrations, declaring, "Therefore the council hereby reaffirms that only the reform and [counsel] that has its legitimacy is that which may bring welfare and avert the evil, whereas it is illegal to issue statements and take signatures for the purposes of intimidation and inciting the strife. ... reform should not be by demonstrations and other means and methods that give rise to unrest and divide the community. ... The Council affirms prohibition of the demonstrations in this country and [that] the legal method which realizes the welfare without causing destruction rests on the mutual advice."[164][165] The fatwa included a "severe threat against internal dissent",[8] stating, "[The Prophet] again said: 'He who wanted separate affairs of this nation who are unified, you should kill him with sword whoever he is' (narrated by Muslim)." In late March, Abd al-'Aziz al-Ashaikh called for a million copies of the fatwa to be printed and distributed.[165]

On 22–23 March 2011, officials of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural affairs announced that men-only municipal elections to elect half the members of local councils would be held in September 2011.[16][17] Associated Press described the election announcement as having "coincided with rumblings of dissent in Saudi Arabia stemming from the wave of political unrest in the Arab world."[166]

Arrests and other repression

About 30 to 50 people were arrested following 29 January Jeddah demonstration.[35] On 18 February, the ten founding members of the Umma Islamic Party were arrested and ordered to withdraw demands for political reform in exchange for their release.[162]

According to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur report on 2 March, Saudi activists have alleged that one of the main administrators of one of the Facebook groups calling for a "Day of Rage" on 11 March, Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad[22] (or Abdul-Ahadwas[23]), was killed by Saudi security forces, who removed his body to "hide evidence of the crime".[23][24]

On 5 March, thousands of security forces were sent to the north-east, causing delays on the road to Dammam.[167] On the same day, following about two weeks of small protests in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of the Interior warned that the "ban [on] all sorts of demonstrations, marches, sit-ins" imposed by Saudi law would be enforced.[37]

On 9 March, Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal stated that the government would not tolerate any street protests against it, while also saying that the "best way to achieve demands is through national dialogue".[168]

On 21 March, Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) co-founder Mohammed Saleh Albejadi (also Al-Bjady) was arrested in Buraidah by Mabahith, the internal security agency. ACPRA stated that the arrest was arbitrary, in violation of the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia and the Law of Criminal Procedures.[108] [109] Both the ACPRA[108] and Human Rights First Society[109] called for his immediate, unconditional release.

On 27 March 2011, Human Rights Watch estimated that the "scale of arrests [rose] dramatically during the preceding two weeks", up to about 160 protestors and critics being held without charge.[15]

In early January 2012, Saudi authorities published the names of a list of 23 people who were allegedly involved in the October 2011 Awamiyah/Qatif protests, calling for their arrests.[169][170] [169] Shah Ali al-Shokan (or Shaukan) from Tarout Island, one of the 23, was arrested by Mabahith on 2 January 2012.[171] Hussain Ali Abdullah al-Baraki, Mosa Ja'far Mohammad al-Mabyouq, and two others among the 23 were also arrested on 2 January.[172] The Ministry of Interior claimed that al-Shokan, al-Baraki and al-Mabyouq had turned themselves in voluntarily.[172] On 10 January, Aqeel al-Yaseen was wounded in al-Awamiyah by security forces, arrested and transferred to a Mabahith facility in Dammam, and forbidden family visits.[173]

Censorship

In mid-March 2011, Reuters chief correspondent in Saudi Arabia, Ulf Laessing, who had reported from Riyadh since 2009, had his journalistic accreditation withdrawn because of his reporting on the early 2011 Saudi Arabian protests, effectively forcing him to leave Saudi Arabia.[15][174]

International

Governments

  •  Russia – On 12 July 2012, K.K. Dolgov, human rights representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed "great concern" about the July events in the Eastern Province. He stated, "We expect that the authorities of the Kingdom will undertake all necessary measures to settle the situation in its eastern regions, to avoid conflict, including confrontation on interconfessional basis, and to ensure the observance of conventional human rights, including the right for freedom of expression of opinion, peaceful demonstrations and freedom of associations, as it is prescribed by the law."[175][176]
  •  United States – On 8 March 2012, the United States Department of State awarded Samar Badawi the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, citing her filing of a lawsuit for women's voting rights in the September 2011 Saudi Arabian municipal elections and her encouragement of other women by the launching of an online campaign.[177]

Street protests

  •  Australia – On 19 July 2012, 50 people protested in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Canberra against the arrests of the Bahraini uprising, against "the crackdown happening in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia", and "to support the people seeking freedom of speech, seeking human rights, freedom for women".[178]
  • Syrian uprising], but [it] repress[es] [its] own citizens". He called for the release of Nimr al-Nimr.[179]

Media

Journalist Robert Fisk said that the protests were known as the "Hunayn Revolution," after the Battle of Hunayn fought between Muhammad and the Hawazin.[167]

Other

Exiled Saudi physicist and political dissident Mohammad al-Massari described police attacks on women in 3 March 2011 Qatif demonstration as a strategic error, saying, "They made a stupid mistake by attacking women and so on because they think Shia women do not have ... the honor protection like the rest of the women in the country. But attacking women in Saudi Arabia, in an Islamic country is very severe, very negative and catastrophic ... and this will have dire repercussions."[180]

On 21 February 2011, oil prices rose in response to the 2011 Libyan civil war and speculation regarding 11 March Saudi Arabian Day of Rage.[38] The Saudi Tadawul stock market index fell to a seven-month low on stability concerns.[181] During the week of 27 February, global stock prices fell as oil prices increased and silver reached a 30-year high price on stability concerns in the region.[182] Regional stock market indices also fell on concern for Saudi stability.[181]

See also

References

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