Last House in Center of Saudi Shiite Town Demolished

Last House in Center of Saudi Shiite Town DemolishedLast House in Center of Saudi Shiite Town Demolished

Saudi authorities say they have demolished the last residential building in the historic center of a Shiite town after speeding up the pace of demolitions.

Municipal spokesman Mohammed al-Sufyan said on Wednesday that all 488 homes were demolished in the area of al-Moswara, in the town of al-Awamiya in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. The town is populated by Shiites, AP reported.

Two dozen people have been killed since the demolitions began in mid-May. UN rights experts criticized the demolition for erasing the heritage of the area.

The government says al-Moswara’s narrow streets were used by what it claims  gunmen as cover and that the old buildings were not safe for residents. It says it has provided residents with alternative shelter until the area is rebuilt.

According to Al Jazeera, Ali Adubisi, the director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, a Berlin-based activist group, said the brutality of the state’s campaign in Awamiya was unparalleled in the country’s history. Thousands of displaced residents are now facing an uncertain future, he added.

“In this process, the state relied not only on weapons but also on the official media, which was lying, misleading and falsifying facts. Regional and religious hatred was also used to ensure the greatest acceptance of [Saudi’s] crimes in this military operation,” Adubisi told Al Jazeera, noting that the offensive, contrary to its aim of quashing opposition, would likely rally more citizens against the state.

“I think it will increase the peaceful civilian opposition ... The military process has shown unprecedented repressive dimensions, and many people outside of Awamiya [and media professionals] were stunned by what they saw.”


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