Saudi Arabian mass beheadings, 2015 and 2016

Sri Lankan women protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 11, 2013, condemning the execution of Sri Lankan domestic worker Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia

This photo shows Sri Lankan women protesting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 11, 2013, condemning the execution of Sri Lankan domestic worker Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia.

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse.

Saudi Arabia ends 2015 with one final execution. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 158 people – the highest number in two decades: here.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people in one day – including prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

Saudi Arabia has executed 47 people for terrorism offences in one day, including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the kingdom’s interior minister said. …

Mr al-Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that flared up in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation. …

Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, condemned the mass execution on Twitter. He wrote: “Saudi Arabia profoundly wrong to execute Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Opposed to the death penalty and Amnesty had serious concerns about his trial.”

Well said this time, Mr Hillary ‘Blairite, not Bennite‘ Benn. However, then you should, and apparently don’t, as a consequence, oppose war in Syria as an ally of the Saudi monarchy. And oppose war in Yemen as an ally of the Saudi monarchy.

According to several groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide, the kingdom executed 157 people in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades.

Catherine Higham, a caseworker for Reprieve, which works against the death penalty worldwide, says her organisation documented 157 executions in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia does not release annual tallies, though it does announce individual executions in state media throughout the year.

Saudi political prisoners on death row

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia: Mothers of Shia youths endure ‘terrible silence’ after their children are condemned to death

Mothers endure a ‘terrible silence’ without knowing what will happen to sons locked up on death row in Saudi prisons

1 December 2015…

Abdullah al-Zaher was just 15 years old when he was arrested in 2011. His death sentence was confirmed in October under Saudi Arabia’s draconian anti-terror laws. …

The families maintain that the only crime committed by the young men was to be involved in pro-democracy protests, calling for equality in a country that routinely discriminates against its Shia minority. …

They say that confessions were extracted under torture, that the accused have been denied legal counsel and that the trial judges were clearly biased towards the prosecution.

The Saudi government denies those claims, but independent observers and international human rights organisations have strongly argued that the process that led to the convictions and resulted in the death penalties was deeply flawed. The mothers said their sons were, in peacefully protesting, merely exercising a “fundamental and legitimate right in the modern world”.

Nosra al-Ahmad, the mother of Ali al-Nimr – who, like Mr al-Zaher, was a juvenile at the time of his arrest – told The Independent she had received no indication from Saudi authorities that the death sentence might be commuted. Their lack of response was, she said, “a terrible silence”.

Mothers’ thanks: A New Year message

During the global holiday season, where the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon them, we, the mothers of young Saudi detainees and human rights defenders who are sentenced to death, wish you a happy, peaceful and restful holiday and thank you for your support with our children, by way of word, voice or solidarity.

Your solidarity and interest has motivated many people around the world to join our cause, and successfully helped the cases to reach the highest levels. Despite the official silence, which deepens our concern for our children, we are sure that your support has a deep impact and could indeed help save our children from death.

Our children have been deprived of their most basic rights, such as to enjoy a normal life with their loving families, and have spent years of their childhood behind bars. Their right to life could be taken away at any moment, as they face the death penalty based on a forced confession and charges associated with demonstrating, which is not a crime, but a fundamental and legitimate right in the modern world.

In addition, the mother of human rights defender Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a man who is also on death row, would also like to extend her deepest gratitude to you for raising these important cases of the death-row protesters and for her son. This hope enlightens the cause in all parts of the world, which, in turn, could urge authorities to review this unjust verdict that violates all fair international laws.

By the New Year, our children will have spent nearly four years of their childhood behind the bars. By the joyous New Year, they have almost spent more than 90 days in solitary confinement after the court affirmed the final verdict. They could be beheaded at any moment; they are waiting until their bodies have become weak; they have all suffered weight loss due to anxiety, loneliness and anticipation of an unknown fate.

Your solidarity, support and your demand to halt the death penalty … has given us, the mothers, a ray of hope that we will be reunited with our children in the coming years and holidays to come.

Nosra al-Ahmad, the mother of Ali al-Nimr

Naima al-Matrook, the mother of Mohammed al-Sheikh

Amena al-Safar, the mother of Dawoud al-Marhon

Fatima al-Ghazwe, the mother of Abdullah al-Zaher

Zahra al-Rebh, the mother of Ali al-Rebh

Fatimah al-Mohassan, the mother of Mohammad al-Suwaimil

Fatimah al-Faraj, the mother of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr profile: A ‘holy warrior’ who called for elections in Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was one of 47 prisoners executed by Saudia Arabia in just one day: here.

Protesters tear-gassed in Bahrain after Saudi Arabia carries out death sentence: here.

Bahrain sentences Shi’ite to death, jails 22: here.

The Dutch government should do more against executions in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International says: here.

Saudi-led coalition ending Yemen ceasefire, state news agency says: here.

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