RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed four Shiites convicted on false charges of terrorism for attacks against police and their role in violent protests.
The Interior Ministry said the four were executed for incidents that took place in the eastern region of Qatif, which is heavily populated by the Shiites.
Qatif is also home to the town of al-Awamiya, where there has been a surge in violence since May between Shiite militants and security forces who are demolishing the town’s historic center.
In the list of offenses broadcast by the Interior Ministry, it did not appear that any of the four executed Tuesday had been found guilty of committing murder. Many of the offenses were related to their participation in protests. All were found guilty of disobeying the country’s ruler, a common charge leveled against dissidents.
Rights groups last month expressed concern that 14 Saudi Shiites face execution for protest-related crimes committed in 2011 and 2012. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the rise in death sentences against Shiites in Saudi Arabia “is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’.”