Protesters have staged an anti - regime demonstration in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, calling for the release of senior Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al - Nimr.
The demonstrators took to the streets in the city of Awamiyah, located in the county’s Qatif region, chanting anti-regime slogans despite a ban imposed by the regime on public gatherings. On March 28, a Saudi prosecutor reportedly demanded the death penalty for Sheikh Nimr Nimr on charges of ‘aiding terrorists’ and ‘instigating unrest’ in the kingdom. Sheikh Nimr was attacked, injured and arrested by Saudi security forces en route to his house in the Qatif region of Eastern Province on July 8, 2012. The cleric had called for the release of all those detained in protests against the Saudi regime, and all the prisoners of conscience. His arrest sparked protests in Eastern Province. According to Saudi activists, most of the detained political activists are being held by the regime without trial or charges. Since February 2011, demonstrators have held anti-regime protests on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. Since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in Eastern Province, the demonstrations have however turned into protests against the Al Saud regime. According to Human Rights Watch, the Riyadh regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”