Several demonstrators have been wounded in Saudi Arabia’s eastern district of Qatif after security forces opened fire on protesters. Officers fired live rounds at demonstrators who carried posters of those injured and arrested earlier this month.
Spokesmen for the Saudi Interior Ministry said several people were burning tires during the protests, and several arrests were made.
Among those arrested today was Mohammed al-Shakhuri, who is on a list of the country’s 23 most-wanted people, Al-Manar News reported. Witnesses said Shakhuri was taken to a military hospital with bullet wounds in his back and neck.
“There were no casualties,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Clashes between police and protesters have increased in recent days, following the deaths of two protesters earlier this month.
Protests began in Saudi Arabia last March, when a Shia uprising in neighbouring Bahrain was crushed by Gulf troops, led by Saudi Arabia.
Demonstrations escalated earlier this month, after a prominent Shia cleric was arrested for being what the interior ministry deemed an “instigator of sedition.”His detainment has been the source of widespread demonstrations demanding an end to sectarian discrimination in the region.
Shia Muslims have long complained of marginalization at the hands of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni ruling family. They were demanding greater rights and an end to what they believe is discrimination by the rulers.
Political analyst Dr. Mohsen Saleh explains that the protests are taking place in the country’s major oil-producing region, where, at the same time, the poorest people live.
“The eastern part in Saudi Arabia has been agonizing for a long time, for centuries…They have been deprived of their basic rights,” he told RT. “When the peaceful [protests] started in Bahrain, the Saudis thought [the same may happen in their country] – and they were right in thinking so, because they are discriminating against an essential part of their people in the east.
“And it’s an irony that all kinds of [carbohydrates – oil] and gas are produced there. [And still], these people are the poorest in their country. That’s why the [Saudi rulers] fear that the agony of these people might be a mark of a great revolution in Saudi Arabia. And that’s what the United States and the Saudis are really afraid of,” he concluded.
The latest events in Saudi Arabia follow the eight latest arrests that were made Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, where the government announced an investigation into groups plotting crimes against the state.
Similar crackdowns have earlier taken place in Bahrain.