The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Saudi Arabia: most executions ever in 2019

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia executed 184 people in 2019, the most in a calendar year since Reprieve began tracking executions six years ago.

Of these executions, which are officially announced by the Saudi Press Agency, 88 were Saudi nationals, 90 were foreign nationals, and 6 were of unknown nationality.

On April 23, 2019, the Kingdom executed 37 people in a single day, including at least three who were children at the time of their alleged offences:

Abdulkarim al-Hawaj was beaten, tortured with electricity and chained with his hands above his head until he ‘confessed’ to terrorism offences, after taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. 

Mujtaba al-Sweikat was arrested at the airport on his way to study at Western Michigan University, severely beaten and convicted on the basis of a confession extracted through torture. 

Salman Qureish was denied basic legal rights and sentenced to death in a mass trial, despite interventions on his behalf by the United Nations.

There have already been four executions in 2020.

At least, 3 other juvenile defendants remain on death row, at risk of imminent execution: Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher.

Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi ArabiaIn April 2018, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, said the regime planned to restrict the scope of the death penalty by limiting the number of capital offences and introducing alternative punishments including life imprisonment. 

In a televised interview, he stated: “We’ve tried to minimise [the death penalty]... And we believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished... We will not get it 100 per cent, but to reduce it big time.” 

In fact, the number of executions continues to rise under his rule. 

There have already been 4 executions in 2020.

Reprieve Director Maya Foa said: "This is another grim milestone for Mohammed Bin Salman's Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom's rulers clearly believe they have total impunity to flout international law when it suits them. A country that tortures and executes children should be a pariah state, not preparing to host the next meeting of the G20."

Source: Reprieve, Staff, January 13, 2020

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