Two Men Shot, Arrested in Awwamiya

Two men were shot and arrested in the town of Awwamiya after an exchange of fire with security forces on Monday night, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said.

The Ministry’s spokesman identified one of the two men as Abdullah Al Suraih, a teenager whose name appeared on a list of 23 wanted persons by the government in connection to protest demonstrations in Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia. The other man was not named, but the spokesman said the man is wanted for drugs-related crimes. The spokesman said both men were injured in their legs during the clash with security forces.

“They were transferred to the hospital for treatment and then they will be referred to the competent authorities to complete legal procedures against them,” the spokesman was quoted as saying in a statement published by the official state news agency.

Al Suraih, 19, has been on the run since early 2012 when the Interior Ministry put his name on a list of 23 people that the government accused of rioting in the restive town of Awwamiya, where a protester movement has managed to sustain itself for almost two years despite the crackdown by security forces.

Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority who reside in the eastern side of the country has for long complained of discrimination. The government denies that it discriminates against its Shia citizens and usually describes the protests as isolated riots.

Despite being on the wanted list, Al Suraih made several public appearances over the last few months. In September 2012, a YouTube video showed him addressing the crowd in a protest after he narrowly escaped an attempt to arrest him where a friend of his was shot dead.

Few days later Al Suraih told Riyadh Bureau that he had no plans to turn himself in. He said he would turn himself in to any government except the Saudi government. “I don’t trust the Saudi government,” he said.