HRW: Saudi must provide basic amenities to besieged Shia city

Large areas of a Shia town in Saudi Arabia appear to have been damaged in what may be an attempt by authorities to hide the devastation they unleashed in the besieged Al-Awamiya in the eastern part of the Kingdom, Human Rights Watch has warned.

The group also called on Saudi authorities to provide basic services to the trapped residents in the town which was placed under siege in July.

“Saudi security forces should provide essential services to trapped Awamiya residents and make sure they can move in and out of the town safely,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Saudi authorities should also immediately and credibly investigate whether its forces used excessive force in Al-Awamiya.

Satellite imagery appears to show significant damage to the town, HRW explained. Residents and activists say that most residents have fled Awamiya, and those who remain lack essential services such as medical care. The town remains sealed off.

Read: 14 Shias at ‘imminent risk of execution’ in Saudi

Awamiya residents told HRW that security forces fired into populated areas far from the town’s Al-Musawara neighbourhood, killing residents, occupying a public school, closing clinics and pharmacies, and preventing essential services such as ambulances from reaching the area.

Satellite imagery appears to show significant damage to the Shia Saudi townof Al-Awamiya

Al-Awamiya, located the oil-rich east of Saudi Arabia, witnessed a wave of protests that broke out in 2011 and then developed into a call for equality between Sunnis and Shias in the Kingdom.

It is the hometown of a prominent cleric, Nimr Al-Nimr, who was executed in January 2016.