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Man Killed as Saudi Arabia Continues Hunt for 23 “Wanted” Persons in Awwamiya

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On September 5, Saudi security forces raided Awwamiya, in the Eastern province, with armored tanks seeking to arrest activists from the 23 “wanted” list of 23 people. The houses of Fadhel Al-Safwani, Muntadhir Al-Subaiti and Mohammed Al-Labbad were stormed by forces under heavy gunfire. None of the three – out of the eight remaining “wanted” activists- were found. But due to the random fire, a number of people were injured and Ahmad Ali Al-Mislab, a 19 year old, was martyred. Twitter users from Awwamiya have reported that Ahmad ran to a neighbor's house after he heard a cry for help. He met with soldiers and tried to run away, but he was shot in the foot and back. Two youth took him back to his house, where he died in his father's arms. The spokesman for the Eastern Province Police Department told Reuters that Al-Mislab's father blamed random bikers who brought him home dead – a story the father denies. The father has published a written statement and a video holding the security forces and the Eastern Province Police Department responsible for the murder of his son and asking for justice and the trial of those involved.

Ahmed Mshikhs also wondered [ar]:

Awwamiya was surrounded with tanks. How did two masked men on a bike dare to move when we all know [forces] have a green light to shoot at all bikes?

Some activists, like Mohammed Al-Nimer, saw this raid as a means to terrorize people so they would not participate in the protest in support for the 23 “wanted” persons, planned for the next day, September 6. The protest still took place and photographs of the “wanted” activists as well as of the martyrs were held. Slogans such as “I'm the next martyr, I care not about repression,” were chanted. Among the chants were:

The situation does not need a security solution; it needs a political one.

Activist Waleed Sulais comments:

The language of blood does not build nations and does not achieve stability. A security solution, even if it succeeds, is temporary and the society will explode again. The solution should be political.

From Bahrain, Nader Abdulemam comments:

The martyr Ahmad Al-Mislab is not the first martyr to fall in Saudi Arabia and will not be the last as long as there is international silence in exchange for oil and arms deals, which are more important than blood

The 23 wanted persons are accused of causing disorder and riots, among other charges and were called to hand themselves over to authorities. A number of them denied all charges and said their only crime was demanding their rights. Two of the 23 -Khaled Al-Labbad and Morsi Al-Rebh- were killed, seven were arrested in previous raids (last of them is Abbas Al-Mazraa and six of his brothers who happen to be Al-Mislab's cousins) and six have surrendered themselves while eight remain “wanted”.

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Ahmad Al-Mislab's body was released to his family on September 9 and his funeral turned into a huge demonstration with people demanding vengeance for the martyrs.

Since March 2011, when protests swept Qatif with the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, over 20 people have been killed in the Eastern Province by security forces and 850 people were arrested. Around 190 are still in jail.

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