"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The protesters, the king and the sword: Saudi Arabia's frenzied race to silence political opponents

For over a decade, Saudi Arabia has ranked among the top 5 executing countries in the world. This trend shows no sign of stopping. As of October 2015, 138 executions had already been recorded, a sharp increase on the 90 executions reported in 2014.

Reprieve's recent report, Justice Crucified: the Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, found that 72% of those facing execution in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death for non-violent offences, including attendance at political protests and drug offences.

Other crimes that are punishable by death include adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality and sorcery. Execution methods include beheading, 'crucifixion' (which involves beheading followed by public display of the body), firing squad and stoning.

The 'Arab Spring', the political and democratic protests that hit the Middle East from 2010, also spread to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. People throughout the Kingdom took to the streets to demand political reform and equality. As a result, hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted for protesting on the basis of dubious evidence.

In the midst of this wrestling match between the Government and pro-democracy protesters, 7 individuals, including 3 children have been sentenced to death for protesting.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

On 14 February 2012, at the age of 17, Ali was arrested for participating in an anti-governmental protest in the eastern district of Qatif of Saudi Arabia. 2 years later he was sentenced to death by "crucifixion", based solely on a fabricated statement he was tortured into signing and that was used as an alleged confession. Ali is now facing imminent execution.

Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon

A 2nd Saudi juvenile is facing imminent death by beheading for his role in pro-democracy protests. Dawoud al-Marhoon was 17 when he was arrested without a warrant by Saudi security forces in May 2012. He was tortured and made to sign a 'confession' that was later relied on to convict him.

Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher

Abdullah is also facing execution for his participation in the 2012 protests. He was arrested on March 2012, and sentenced to death in October 2014 by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. Like Ali and Dawoud, Abdullah was tortured into signing an incriminating statement and denied access to a lawyer during interrogations. He was convicted on similar charges, including attending anti-government protests, carrying out an armed robbery, and participating in the killing of police officers by making and using Molotov cocktails.

Fears of imminent execution have intensified as all 3 have been moved into solitary confinement in a prison South of Riyadh on 5 October 2015.

Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr

Sheikh al-Nimr, Ali's uncle, is a prominent Shi'a cleric, who has been at the forefront of the pro-democracy protests. Shot and wounded in the leg during his arrest on 8 July 2012, he was subsequently denied medical treatment and suffered further ill-treatment. On October 2014, Sheikh al-Nimr was sentenced to death in proceedings which flouted international standards of due process.

Ali Saeed al-Rebh & Mohammed Faisal Alshiyouk

Ali Saeed al-Rebh and Mohammad Faisal Alshiyouk are 2 protesters who were arrested in February 2012, at the ages of 18 and 19 respectively. They were sentenced to death on October 2014 on similar charges, on the basis of statements established as a result of forced confession and torture.

Mohammad Ali al-Somwaeal

Mohammad was convicted of similar offences and sentenced to death in retaliation for his implication in the anti-government protests. His judgement was based on statements extracted under torture and duress.

Source: reprieve.org, October 31, 2015

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