2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
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The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

Iran Judiciary Chief Larijani: Lengthy Prison Terms, Death Sentences Await Bazaar Protesters

Amoli Larijani
In a joint conference of the judiciary in Tehran on the morning of June 26, Iranian Judiciary Chief Amoli Larijani accused protesting bazaar merchants of disrupting Iran’s economy, warning them to “take the stuffing out of their ears” and realize that verdicts ranging from 20 years in prison to execution await them.

A day after Tehran bazaar merchants demonstrated in the streets over the collapse of the rial-USD exchange rate, they closed their shops in Tehran’s market in a second day of protest. Larijani asked the Islamic Republic’s intelligence forces to identify “disruptors” in the bazaar as well as individuals who, by spending money and hoarding American currency and precious coins, were inflaming the market.

“These actions are treason against the people and treason against our government. We have not wavered in the slightest. We are countering these individuals and warn them that what they are doing –disrupting the country’s economic system - carries a heavy punishment, and if it amounts to ‘corruption on earth’ the death penalty will be considered for them, and we will not waver in carrying out the law.”

The judiciary chief said that the security forces are obligated to make protesting bazaar merchants known so that the judiciary can deal seriously with them, and that such people cannot say in the future that they were not informed of the punishments which await them.

Yesterday, security force and plainclothes agents attempted to prevent bazaar merchant gatherings and demonstrations headed toward the parliament building by firing tear gas. The protests continued nonetheless. Besides the instability of the Rial’s value against the dollar, instability in the release of goods from customs facilities have caused woes for merchants. On Saturday, June 23, the Minister of Industry, Mines, and Commerce sent an announcement to the Development Organization announcing new tariffs and bans. The announcement was one of the reasons bazaar merchants launched protests in Tehran and a few other cities, including Shiraz and Qeshm Island.

TEHRAN, Iran June 24, 2018. Protest against unprecedented rise of dollars rate.

Source: iranrights.org, June 26, 2018

Iran's Judiciary Chief Threatens Protesting Merchants With Execution as Protests Continue

Tehran Demonstrations Against Inflation Turn Political as They Spread to Other Cities

The Chief Justice of Iran Sadegh Larijani has threatened the merchants who have been protesting in Tehran against rising inflation since June 25, 2018, with execution if they don't back down. Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi has also blamed the protests on the US, adding that "a number of the main instigators" have been arrested.

"I'm warning you. Listen well. Take the cotton out of your ears and open your eyes. These actions against the country's economic order are punishable by execution - if found to be on the level of 'corruption on earth' - or up to 20 years in prison and the confiscation of all possessions," said Larijani in a speech to judicial officials in Tehran on June 26.

"We will not hesitate to implement the law," he added.

A business owner in Tehran's Grand Bazaar told Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on June 26 that shutting down his business was not only a sign of "protest against the government's economic policy but also a good business decision."

"We are better off shutting down our stores for a month and coming back with much less loss, rather than selling goods and doing business," said the merchant, referring to the substantial financial losses he would incur if he purchased goods at the current currency rate.

The protests by the merchants, known as bazaaris in Iran, began in Tehran's Grand Bazaar on June 25, 2018, and turned into a mass socioeconomic and political rally outside the Parliament building where police fired tear gas at crowds chanting anti-state slogans.

The demonstrations started after another sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency, the rial, which in a matter of weeks has lost nearly 1/2 its value in the black market. Iranian banks issue a limited amount of dollars, forcing people to obtain currencies on the black market, which trades at a much higher rate.

The official rate set by the Central Bank of Iran is currently about 42,500 rials to the dollar, but the rate on the street was closer to 100,000 rials as of June 25.

The bazaar was closed on June 25 but smaller protests continued the next day in Tehran and around the country including the cities of Isfahan, Arak and Kermanshah on June 26.

Building on Larijani's threats, the Tehran prosecutor refused to address the protesters' complaints, which have been simmering for years in Iran against the country's domestic and foreign policies, particularly since December 2017/January 2018, and instead accused the demonstrators of "rioting" as part of an alleged American plot against Iran.

"My message to those who are disrupting security and the economy is that the judicial system will firmly deal with any kind of rioting and disturbance and the perpetrators will be put on trial like those who caused riots last December and February," he told reporters on June 26. "The judiciary chief has said that disrupting the economy and security will carry heavy punishments."

"I inform these individuals and their families that they will not be released until they are prosecuted," added Dowlatabadi. "Those who are trying to disrupt the Islamic state are not bazaari types. You will see that the bazaaris will distance themselves. The people will not allow a few individuals to give themselves the right to cause turbulence in the bazaar and create economic insecurity."

He continued: "This is a serious plot devised by the Americans to spread insecurity in Iran. Yesterday they tried to intimidate bazaaris to close their shops and start riots in some parts of the city and damage some places of business."

Other Iranian officials recognized that the protesters' concerns were rooted in rising inflation and the high rate of inflation.

"The price of goods is constantly on the rise and merchants can't restock items they have already sold," Ahmad Karimi Isfahani, chairman of the Islamic Society of Merchants, told the state-funded Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on June 25. "The instability has left customers and merchants unsatisfied."

"For 40 years we have not seen this kind of action that would shut down the bazaar, but today it happened and we believe that the only and only reason is mismanagement inside the country," he added.

After closing their shops in Tehran's main bazaar on June 25, the merchants marched from surrounding streets toward Baharestan Sq. in front of the Parliament building chanting "death to the dictator," "death to expensiveness," "death to freeloading thugs," "Iranians! Enough is enough, show your mettle" and "our misery is because of Syria, Palestine... Let go of Syria; think about our situation."

"I don't think economic problems are the only factor for the people's dissatisfaction," said Abdolreza Hashemizaie, a reformist Member of Iran's Parliament (MP), in an interview with ILNA on June 25.

"In fact, people are grappling with political and social concerns and if the authorities don't do anything about them, these economically rooted civil protests will turn into disturbances," he added.

Another reformist MP, Jahanbakhsh Mohebbinia told ILNA on June 25, "Up to now, the people have given the officials opportunities to solve economic problems. I suggest officials do not blame the people's movement on foreign instigations."

Source: Iran Human Rights, June 27, 2018

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