The restive town of Al-Awamiya in the Al-Qatif province of Saudi Arabia has been the scene of a violent regime crackdown on protesters, with numerous Shia activists being reported as arrested, disappeared, or killed.
In May, the Wahhabi-Sunni government laid siege to Al-Awmaniya in a move thought to be a response to protests by Saudi’s Shia population against the regime’s announcement that it was going to demolish a four-hundred year old Shia neighborhood in the town.
More mechanisms heading to #Awamia, #Qatif to complete the demolishing of #Mosawarah. #Saudi #Awamiasiege pic.twitter.com/TVSxhzZ5yW— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 27, 2017
Al-Awmaniya was the home of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the Shia cleric executed in 2016 after calling for pro-democracy protests in the Sunni kingdom.
A lack of independent media access has meant that news from inside the area is filtered through official Saudi outlets and thus cannot be relied on as accurate. What is left, therefore, are numerous unverified social media posts which purport to be from inside the town and wider Shia-heavy region.
One Twitter account, @AngryQatifi, has become particularly known for its reporting on the siege.
#Awamia, #Qatif became a war zone in less than 6 hours since #Saudi NG entered it. Troops shoot vids and brag about it. #Awamiasiege pic.twitter.com/cUL8SZFWUO— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 26, 2017
Some Tweets have called out Western nations for supplying Saudi Arabia with armoured vehicles arms which it is using on its own people. Canada was this week accused of supplying the kingdom with the armoured vehicles which appear to be being used in the crackdown.
- Canadian Armoured Vehicles Reportedly Used by Saudi in Deadly Siege on its Own Shia Population
- Saudi Military Bulldoze Old Town of Mosowara, Sparking Tensions Against Shia Minority
The Canadian government has said it will take these allegations very seriously, although Western nations do not have a very good track record when it comes to dissuading Saudi Arabia from commiting human rights violations.
Via @anthonyfenton: video shows MOI-led SSSF's Canadian-made "Gurkha RPV' "#58" used in #Awamiasiege. Interest, @stevenchase? #Qatif #Saudi pic.twitter.com/bCzvyI2ed5— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 27, 2017
These bullets which are being used in #Awamiasiege by #Saudi National Guards are made in US by @GDMS.https://t.co/fdh9IHJKBO #Awamia #Qatif pic.twitter.com/dmmJR3hW81— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 27, 2017
The town currently resembles a war zone. While the images and videos in the Tweets coming from Al-Awamiya and Al-Qatif province in general cannot be verified, they do appear to show high levels of destruction in the Shia-heavy areas. Activists online have been providing updates from on the ground, and if these images reflect the reality of the situation, then it is clear that the kingdom's crackdown is brutal and extremely violent.
A house on fire nearby Post Office of #Awamia, #Qatif. #Saudi National Guards stationed are shooting continuously. pic.twitter.com/gd2x6dLOmG— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 26, 2017
Quick footage from #Mosawarah of #Awamia, #Qatif. It's under attack by #Saudi National Guards. pic.twitter.com/ogmpDgwJqP— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 26, 2017
#Saudi Force raids into Jumaima neighb. of #Awamia, #Qatif today arresting locals and making serious damages to properties. #Awamiasiege pic.twitter.com/QlQOLfUSil— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 19, 2017
1st pic is in #Awamia, #Qatif. 2nd is in Syria. Imagine how big the destruction #Saudi Forces made in #Awamiasiege which media doesn't show! pic.twitter.com/vADfQyjOsm— Angry Qatifi (@AngryQatifi) July 14, 2017