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Saudi Arabia executes Shia youth for taking part in peaceful protests

This file photo released on social media networks shows Mustafa bin Hashem bin Issa Al Darwish, the executed Saudi protester from Shia-majority Qatif region in the Eastern Province.

Saudi authorities have carried out the death sentence handed down to a youth from the kingdom’s Shia-​majority Qatif region in the Eastern Province over alleged incitement and taking part in peaceful protests against the regime in Riyadh among other baseless accusations.

The Saudi interior ministry made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, saying, “The death sentence was executed as a punishment for Mustafa bin Hashem bin Issa Al Darwish, today, in the city of Dammam in the Eastern Province.”

Saudi officials had accused Mustafa of taking up arms against the kingdom, threatening national security, forming a terrorist gang to kill Saudi security forces and inciting sedition all of which had been rejected by human rights bodies, which had urged the Riyadh regime to revoke the death sentence.

The death sentence was handed down despite the fact that Mustafa was a 17-year-old teenager at the time of his arrest for taking part in peaceful protests in Qatif in 2015.

Human rights organizations and political activists had frequently slammed the Saudi court's ruling, calling for Mustafa's death sentence to be scrapped.

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, whose forces have ramped up measures across the province.

Ever since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

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