Thousands of Saudis Shia have rallied in the eastern city of Awamiyah to protest against the policies of the Al Saudi ruling family in the region.
Witnesses say Saudi protesters took to the streets in Awamiyah on Friday to express their anger with the government troops killing anti-regime protesters in the Eastern Province.Â
Saudi activists named this week’s march “Loyalty to the Martyrs”.Â
Saudi troops have killed several protesters during anti-government demonstrations in the province over the past weeks. This has sparked protest rallies in several cities, including Awamiyah and Qatif.Â
Tensions have been high in the province after Riyadh decided to increase its troop presence in the region in a bid to quash anti-government protest there.Â
Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months with demonstrators demanding human rights reform, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners.Â
Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters. The rights group called on Saudi authorities in October to stop ”arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters, relatives of wanted persons, and human rights activists” in Eastern Province.Â
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According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees suffered both physical and mental torture.Â
The arrests in Saudi Arabia have been carried out despite the fact that the kingdom is a party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Article 14 of the charter prohibits arbitrary detention.