RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia executed a young Shia man Tuesday for alleged participation in an anti-regime rebellion, a rights group said, adding his trial was “deeply flawed.”
It was unclear whether Mustafa bin Hashim bin Isa al-Darwish, 26, was executed for crimes committed as a minor, according to Amnesty International.
The rights group said he was detained in 2015 for alleged participation in riots between 2011 and 2012. The official charge sheet does not specify the dates his alleged crimes took place, meaning he could have been 17 at the time, or just turned 18.
The government maintains he was convicted and executed for crimes committed above the age of 19, though no specific dates for his alleged crimes have been given.
Last year, the kingdom halted its practice of executing people for crimes committed as a minor.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement he was executed after being found guilty of participating in the formation of an armed terrorist cell to monitor and target to kill police officers, attempting to kill police officers, shooting at police patrols and making Molotov cocktails to target police.
Other accusations included “participating in armed rebellion against the ruler and provoking chaos and sectarian strife.” The crimes allegedly transpired in the Eastern Province, where most Saudi oil is concentrated and home to a significant indigenous Shia population. The execution was carried out in Dammam, the province’s administrative capital.
At the height of Arab Spring uprisings across the region, the kingdom experienced unrest among Saudi youth who took to the Eastern Province’s impoverished streets of Qatif. They demanded jobs, better opportunities and an end to discrimination by the kingdom’s autocratic institutions and Wahhabi clerics.
Saudi security forces backed by armored vehicles set up checkpoints and suppressed the protests, rounding up an unknown number of protesters. The government later razed homes belonging to Shia residents of the restive city of al-Awamiya in 2017 in an area that was several hundred years old.
Over the years, numerous executions of Shias involved in violent protests have been carried out.