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The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

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With the execution of Aum Shinrikyo leader and six of his followers, Japan looks to leave behind an era of tragedy. 
On July 6, 2018, Japanese authorities executed seven members of the religious movement Aum Shinrikyo (Aum true religion, or supreme truth), which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and a series of other atrocities. None of the seven of the executed men were directly involved in releasing the gas on that tragic day; four of those who did remain under a death sentence, and their executions may be imminent.
The seven executed were involved in planning and organizing the various crimes committed by Aum. Asahara Shoko (born Matsumoto Chizuo), was the founder and leader of the movement, having developed the doctrinal system instrumental to Aum’s violence and its concept of a final cosmic war of good (Aum) against evil (the corrupt material world and everyone — from the Japanese government to the general public — who lived in it). Asahara is believed to have given …

An Ally Is Set to Execute Critics. Will Mr. Trump Be Silent?

Mujtaba al-Sweikat
Mujtaba al-Sweikat
Mujtaba al-Sweikat was a bright 17-year-old student on his way to visit Western Michigan University when he was arrested at King Fahd Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2012.

Since then, Mr. Sweikat has been in Saudi custody, subjected to torture, including beatings so severe his shoulder was broken, in order to extract confessions that sealed his fate: condemned to death, likely by beheading.

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld Mr. Sweikat’s June 2016 death sentence, as well as those of 13 other Saudi citizens tried with him — including a disabled man and two who were juveniles when sentenced — after a mass trial that made a mockery of international standards of due process.

Now, the only person who can prevent these barbarous executions is King Salman, who must ratify the death sentences.

As was the case with many members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority condemned to death in recent years, Mr. Sweikat’s crime was attending political protests in the heady months following the 2011 Arab Spring.

The human rights group Reprieve, 116 Western Michigan University faculty and staff members and the American Federation of Teachers are calling on President Trump to intervene with King Salman on behalf of Mr. Sweikat and the other condemned men.

Hope is slim, though. During his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, Mr. Trump basically told the Saudi regime that the United States would look the other way on human rights abuses, saying, “We are not here to lecture.” Since then, Mr. Trump has sided with Saudi Arabia and other gulf states in their dispute with Qatar, chiefly because of Qatar’s relatively good relationship with Shiite Iran, exacerbating sectarian divides in the region.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has executed more and more members of its Shiite minority to demonize the group and to deliver a harsh message on dissent to Saudi citizens.

Mr. Trump could take advantage of his new friendship with the Saudis and make an immediate appeal to King Salman to halt these horrific executions.

Source: The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, The Editorial Board, August 3, 2017

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