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Interview: resisting the Western-backed Saudi regime

By: 
Yusur Al Bahrani

August 8, 2013

Massive protests continue in the oil rich Eastern Province of Qatif, despite the Western-backed Saudi regime’s brutal attacks on activists and their families. Abbas Al-Mezra is one of the activists who was recently arrested, along with his brothers, in Al-Awwamiya city in Qatif. Socialist.ca spoke with his sister, Ruqayya Al-Mezra, an eyewitness to Saudi regime's attack on her family's home on July 29, and the arbitrary arrest of her brothers.
 
Abbas Al-Mezra is an activist who was speaking, writing and protesting against the oppressive Saudi regime. “He was demanding rights for all. The case of Abbas is the case of the entire community. It’s the case of the injustice that people face here,” said Ruqayya.
 
Attacks on Al-Mezra’s home
Armored fighting vehicles surrounded al-Mezra’s home and the neighborhood. According to Ruqayya, security forces were shooting young men in the street, and armed men in civilian clothes raided the home at dawn. They held women and children captive in their rooms, brutally beat and arbitrarily arrested Abbas and his brothers, and confiscated their laptops and mobile devices. During the raid and the hunt for Abbas, Saudi forces burnt the house and caused destruction in the neighborhood in addition to burning civilians’ cars.
 
“We were about to die from fire or shooting,” said Ruqayya. The Saudi authorities claim the family members used arms to resist attack. But eyewitnesses say no one had any arms at home. As Ruqayya explained, “the place was surrounded by armored vehicles. How could we resist?”
 
At the police station
Security forces then packed people into an armored vehicle with their hands tied behind their backs, and took them to the police station to see Al-Mezra brothers. The police officers photographed drugs and weapons to claim that the brothers were all drug dealers. This is not the first time in which such claims were made to prosecute and defame activists in Qatif. Soon after the incident, the Ministry of Interior announced that the authorities had arrested “armed drug dealers.”
 
“We were barefooted. We stayed in the police station for one hour. A police officer said that a drug car would drive us back home. We refused and walked back,” Ruqayya said. Al-Mezra brothers were detained, while the women and children were released after few hours. Abdullah Al-Mezra, Abbas Al-Mezra’s brother, was arrested six months ago when he went with his wife to hospital for a medical check up, because of his solidarity with other political prisoners.
 
Resistance
Despite the brutality of the incident, people surrounded the Al-Mezra home and tried to save them. People from different parts of the city continue to visit the family to show solidarity. According to one of the local activists, hundreds of families have visited the Al-Mezra family, in solidarity against the oppressive regime.
 
There are many like Abbas Al-Mezra and his family. According to Amnesty International’s annual report, around 155 men and 20 children from Qatif Province were held without charge in connection with protests at the end of 2012. Protests continue and the numbers are increasing to tens of thousands during major occasions and calls to demonstrations. 
 
Solidarity
These attacks bring to light the brutality of the Western-backed. Solidarity with pro-democracy activists and their families includes exposing the hypocrisy of the West (including Canada) that claims to promote democracy while backing oppressive regimes.

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