Saudi authorities are going to execute dozens of imprisoned political dissidents from the country’s oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province, amid a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network, citing social media activists, reported that 39 Qatif residents are facing death penalty at various levels of litigation.
The report added that five detainees are already on the death row, while nine others have been sentenced to death. Another 26 inmates are facing death penalty at a request from the Public Prosecution.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.