Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011, men and women in the Eastern Province of Qatif and other parts in Saudi Arabia have been protesting for real democracy and an end to systematic oppression. Protests are happening more frequently, which make it impossible for the Saudi monarchy to silence people.
One of the most active groups that has been calling for protests and advocating for democracy is Qatifiyat. Qatifiyat ("the Women of Qatif") is a group of women activists who are struggling for freedom and an end to oppression. Women have always been in the frontline of the revolutionary struggles in Saudi Arabia.
On Friday, May 10, men and women in Qatif protested despite the government’s continuous crackdown on activists. Protestors demanded the release of all political prisoners who have been detained since 2011, after 2011 and the “forgotten detainees” who have been in Saudi prisons for decades. The demonstration was under the slogan “the case hasn't ended.” By the “case,” protestors meant the cases of all political prisoners and all those who are oppressed by the pro-Western Saudi regime.
Protestors chanted: “We are not rioters, we are demanding the release of prisoners,” “Oh Qatif, oppression will not intimidate revolutionaries” and “Oppressors are stealing freedom and bread.” Their chants reminded me of the chants of Egyptian protestors in Tahrir “Bread, freedom, and social justice.” Protestors were holding banners with political prisoners’ photos including the photo of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr who is at imminent risk of crucifixion under secret trial.
The regime has also recently launched a new series of arrests on pro-democracy activists. Despite the government’s oppression and brutality, all protestors have remained peaceful; women protestors were holding flowers.
While protestors, activists and people in Saudi Arabia fight for their rights, it is very important to expose the hypocrisy of the Western governments that continue to back the Saudi monarchy. It is also very crucial to break the code of silence and build awareness.
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