RNA - The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said the Riyadh regime had arrested the youths during anti-government unrest in the country’s Shia-populated Qatif region in Eastern Province in 2011, Lebanese Al-Mayadeen reported on Tuesday, with the youngest of the group being nine years old at the time of apprehension.
The five individuals were named by the ESOHR as Ahmad Abdel al-Wahid al-Faraj, Ali Mohammad al-Biti, Mohammad Hussain al-Nimr, Ali Hassan al-Faraj, and Mohammad Essam al-Faraj.
The organization said the Saudi public prosecutor had called for the “harshest punishment” against the teenagers.
The young men have been in prison awaiting trial for over two years, with some of them having been held in solitary confinement. Others have been denied legal representation and allegedly subjected to torture.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests and the prosecution of peaceful protesters in the country.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target political activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.