Sri Lankan Saudi, Trump-style ‘war on drugs’


Demonstration against death penalty in Sri Lankan capital Colombo, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Sri Lanka is going to carry out the death penalty again and employs two executioners

Sri Lanka has appointed two official executioners to carry out the first executions since 43 years. Last February, President Sirisena announced that four convicted drug criminals would be put to death by hanging.

The verdict must be executed by specially trained executioners, but the last one left five years ago without ever executing anyone.

More than 100 candidates responded to the vacancy, in which they asked for people with ‘a strong moral character’. Two US Americans and two women also applied for the position, although foreigners and women were excluded from the procedure in advance.

The two men hired are now in the final phase of their education and must be ready in two weeks. …

By a government measure in 1977, the death penalty was automatically converted to life imprisonment.

Amnesty International says it is “shocked and indignant” and argues that executions for drug-related offenses are illegal.

Sri Lankan Trump-Duterte-Saudi-like lethal ‘war on drugs’


This video is about the horrible beheading of Ms Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, proclaiming her innocence, in Saudi Arabia. Not fit to watch for children and sensitive people.

In 2013, the Saudi regime had a Sri Lankan domestic worker beheaded. In 2015, this blog mentioned that a Sri Lankan housemaid in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to death by stoning, based on a false accusation of ‘adultery’. The Sri Lankan government then pressured the Saudi regime; which resulted in change of the penalty from being killed by stoning to three years in prison.

Now in Sri Lanka though …

By Vijith Samarasinghe in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan president denounces opponents of the death penalty

15 February 2019

Addressing parliament on February 6, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena reiterated his commitment to ending the country’s 43-year moratorium on the death penalty. He warned the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and other human rights groups not to hinder his efforts.

Sirisena told parliament that although death row prisoners had filed appeals against their convictions since he began calling for the reinstatement of executions, “we would be able to implement the death penalty in one to two months. Whatever opposition would be raised against it, I have taken a firm decision to implement it.”

Citing the death penalty in India, the US and Singapore, he cynically declared: “We need stringent laws to make a law-abiding and spiritual society.”

During his visit last month to the Philippines, Sirisena hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”—the extrajudicial killing of thousands of alleged drug dealers—as an “example to the whole world” and vowed to reinstitute the death penalty in Sri Lanka.

Sirisena’s campaign for executions and his praise of Duterte drew immediate criticism from human rights groups in Sri Lanka and internationally.

Sirisena responded by telling parliament that any invocation of human rights in relationship to the drug trafficking underworld was “wrong” and demanded human rights organisations “not object” to his death penalty campaign.

Sirisena singled out the toothless, government-appointed HRCSL for attack and referred to the brutal beating of prisoners in Angunakolapelessa jail last November by Special Task Force (STF) officers and prison staff. A secretly recorded video of the incident drew wide criticism of the government.

This 16 January 2019 video from Sri Lanka is called Prisoners assaulted in Angunakolapelessa prison.

Sirisena criticised the HRCSL chief for daring to ask the STF commandant who had given the order to send in the STF.

“The human rights commission, which was appointed by us, should have defended us,” the president told parliament. “Instead, it is questioning the STF chief.” He also condemned the HRCSL for vetting Sri Lankan military officers for human rights violations before they were sent abroad on so-called UN peace keeping assignments.

HRCSL chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama responded in writing to Sirisena’s allegations, saying these actions were “in accordance with human rights law” and not “an attempt by the Commission to protect criminals.”

Sirisena’s broadside in parliament has only one meaning. He will not tolerate any opposition to the reinstitution of the death penalty or any government violation of basic democratic rights. Sirisena is sending a clear message to the police, and its notorious STF, and the military, that he will back them in all circumstances.

Sirisena’s defence of the military is indicative. Between 1983 and 2009, it conducted a vicious communal war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The bloody conflict was a culmination of the communalist policies pursued by the ruling elite since 1948 to suppress and divide the working class along ethnic and religious lines.

Sirisena, like his predecessors, is committed to shielding the political leaders of successive governments and the military hierarchy responsible for all the war crimes committed since 1983.

While officially there have been no official executions since 1976, the Sri Lankan state has a horrifying record of eliminating its political opponents, workers and young people through extra-judicial killings.

Military and associated paramilitary death squads abducted and executed, without trial, tens of thousands of people during the war against the LTTE and in crushing the youth insurgencies of 1987–89 in Sri Lanka’s south.

The Constitutional Council (CC) was another target of Sirisena’s speech to parliament.

Established by the 19th amendment to the constitution in 2015 under the Sirisena presidency, the CC is supposed to ensure the “independence” of the judiciary and the government service. Consisting of representatives of the president and the parliamentary parties, and headed by the parliamentary speaker, it is not independent in any sense.

Sirisena complained that the CC had not approved his nominees for judges and the chief justice. “They are yet to inform me the reasons for turning down those names,” he declared.

The president is not alone in his provocative and authoritarian outbursts. His views are endorsed by the entire political establishment, including Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s ruling United National Party (UNP), which is working hand in glove to tighten up the instruments of state repression. Last week, Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala announced that the “administrative procedures for the execution of five drug convicts had been completed.”

Every faction of the ruling elite is turning toward police-state forms of rule. For about two months last year, these factions were engaged in open political warfare. Sirisena unconstitutionally sacked Wickremesinghe, replacing him with his arch-rival, former President Mahinda Rajapakse, and then dissolved the parliament after Rajapakse was unable to gain a parliamentary majority.

The plot failed because the US was hostile to Rajapakse, whom Washington considers sympathetic to Beijing, and the Supreme Court overruled Sirisena, compelling him to reinstate Wickremesinghe.

Behind the ongoing infighting within the political elite is the eruption of plantation and other workers’ struggles as part of an international working-class upsurge.

Two days before Sirisena’s death penalty address to parliament, he made an unprecedented Independence Day speech in which he hailed the military and declared that governments had failed to resolve the country’s democratic and social questions.

The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, with most of its victims around world coming from the most oppressed layers of society. Sirisena’s call for the speedy restoration of this barbaric practice, endorsed by all the major parliamentary parties, is a clear indication that the capitalist class is lurching toward dictatorial forms of rule.

In a signal that the Sirisena government is pushing ahead with its reactionary agenda, the government-owned Daily News newspaper ran a grotesque advertisement on February 11 for people to apply to become the official hangmen. The two people who will be employed to carry out state killings must be males aged between 18 and 45 and possess “mental strength.” They will reportedly be paid 36,410 rupees, or $203, a month to hang other human beings.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 14 February 2019:

Sri Lanka is looking for two new executioners with a newspaper advertisement. The country wants to reintroduce the death penalty after years, but is still looking for personnel.

The requirements are limited: applicants must be citizens between the ages of 18 and 45, have a high school diploma and be male; women are supposedly too emotional for the job. …

The job has a monthly salary of 140 euros, which is above average for Sri Lankan public employees.

Zero tolerance policy

Sri Lanka has had a moratorium on executions since 1977. The death penalty is still imposed, but automatically converted to life imprisonment.

Inspired by the zero tolerance policy of his Filipino counterpart Duterte, President Sirisena wants to carry out the death penalty again. Drug criminals deserve the noose, according to him.

The previous executioner left in 2014 with a promotion, allegedly relieved that he had never executed anyone. Finding a successor was difficult: two candidates were fired because they were absent unauthorizedly, a third one resigned when he first saw the gallows.

Candidates now have two weeks to report. The first job interviews should take place next month.

PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT’S ‘CURE’ CLAIM Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte accused a rival politician of being homosexual, and then claimed he used to be gay until he “cured” himself. Duterte’s public positions on homosexuality have been inconsistent, to say the least. [HuffPost]

302 people arrested for protesting Trump’s rape scandal nominee Kavanaugh


This 4 October 2018 video from Washington, D.C. in the USA says about itself:

Kavanaugh Protest: 300 Activists Arrested Including Amy Schumer

A total of 302 activists including Amy Schumer were arrested today in the US Capitol’s Hart Atrium after protesting against Brett Kavanaugh. Filmed by Ford Fischer.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US Supreme Court ruling guts ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”

2 April 2019

In a decision that sets a new standard for legalistic sophistry in the service of barbarism, the US Supreme Court has approved the execution of a Missouri inmate using methods that are tantamount to torture.

Despite evidence that the death row prisoner, Russell Bucklew, has a rare medical condition involving the formation of tumors in his bloodstream, which renders execution by lethal injection excruciatingly painful, the court issued a 5–4 ruling Monday that the execution should proceed as planned.

The decision was the first in which the replacement of conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy by ultra-conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh clearly paid dividends for the most right-wing factions in Washington. Kennedy was the fifth vote to approve a stay of execution for Bucklew last year in an earlier, unrelated appeal. Kavanaugh supplied the fifth vote to send Bucklew to the death chamber.

SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS PROTEST KAVANAUGH HIRING Sexual assault survivors and student activists at George Mason University are protesting the school’s hiring of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a visiting professor. News of Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Antonin Scalia Law School surfaced in late March in George Mason’s undergraduate newspaper, the Fourth Estate, sparking swift outcry. [HuffPost]

GRAHAM ‘PROMISES’ KAVANAUGH WON’T BE IMPEACHED Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “promised” that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh won’t be impeached following the revelation of another sexual misconduct allegation. [HuffPost]

Kill the gays, United States preacher preaches


This video from the USA says about itself:

A Conversation with [fundamentalist Christian preacher] Matt Powell

10 May 2018

Matt comes on to discuss Christian theology. We end up talking about his support for the death penalty for homosexuals and disobedient children.

From the New Civil Rights Movement in the USA:

Christian preacher: The government should execute gay people

Christian preacher Matt Powell says the government should execute gay people because the Bible says so.

“As far as homosexuality goes, you know, I believe the Bible puts the death penalty on it,” Powell told atheist YouTube personality Skylar Fiction in an interview.

“I believe it’s disgusting,” Powell added, speaking of homosexuality. Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta first reported on Powell’s remarks.

At one point Fiction felt the need to ask Powell if he were just trolling him, because his views are so extreme they resemble the Westboro Baptist Church.

“You don’t believe that gay people should be stoned to death, do you?” Fiction, attempting to clarify Powell’s remarks, asked.

“I believe the Bible puts the death penalty on it,” Preacher Powell responded, referring to homosexuality. “Obviously, not by me or anybody in a regular society, obviously. I believe it’s the government’s job to execute criminals. I believe that the Bible says clearly that homosexuality is a criminal crime. It’s a crime. It’s one of the worst crimes ever,” the preacher said. He added that not all sins are created equal.

“Is that what you’re advocating for? That our government should stone gays to death to execute them?” Fiction again asked.

“By whatever means they execute people. And obviously, I believe in humane, you know, putting to death,” Powell continued. Fiction reminded him that execution is not humane.

Powell also said, falsely, that every study shows gay people contract HIV/AIDS at a rate 50 times higher than non-gay people.

Later in the interview Fiction pressured Powell to explain why he believes God is good. Powell was unable do so, other than by saying God says he is.

Unfortunately, the ‘reverend’ Powell is not the only person in the USA advocating killing LGBTQ people. Not the only one among fundamentalist preachers (who may add now-ex President Obama to their religious kill lists). Not the only one if we look at politicians of President Donald Trump’s ruling Republican party.

Death sentence for atheism in Saudi Arabia


This video from the USA says about itself:

Man ‘Sentenced To Death For Atheism’ In Saudí Arabía

29 April 2017

Read more here.

Atheism is far from being the only ‘crime’ for which one may get the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. Others are witchcraft, being LGBTQ, false accusations of murder, demonstrating for democracy, sex outside marriage, etc.

Saudi death penalty, even for a prince


This video says about itself:

Saudi beheading – Myanmar woman screams innocence before execution

1-17-2015 – A Myanmar woman beheaded in a Saudi street this week for killing her husband’s young daughter is seen screaming her innocence in a video posted on the Internet Saturday.

Saudi authorities have arrested someone for filming the incident, said local newspaper websites, including Okaz and Al-Riyadh, in reports accompanied by still shots from the recording.

“I did not kill. There is no God but God. I did not kill,” cries the woman, covered in black, apparently kneeling on the pavement circled by police officers in the video on LiveLeak.

“Haram. Haram. Haram. Haram. I did not kill … I do not forgive you … This is an injustice,” she screams in Arabic, using the Islamic term for something that is forbidden.

The executioner, dressed in a white robe, forces her to lie down on the ground, near a pedestrian crossing. Mountains are seen in the distance.

“I did not,” she continues before a final scream as the executioner’s curved sword severs her head, in a traditional execution for the kingdom, which carries out death sentences in public.

Several other videos purportedly showing beheadings in Saudi Arabia have circulated online over the past three years.

Saudi Arabia executed 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013, according to an AFP tally.

A United Nations special rapporteur has said trials leading to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia are “grossly unfair”.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in the oil-rich Gulf state that is a close ally of Washington.

Saudi authorities identified Bassim as holding “Burmese nationality”, using the former name for Myanmar, but did not specify if she was from its Rohingya Muslim community.

In Saudi Arabia, some princesses of the royal family can get away with crimes for which non-royal women might get harsh punishment, including the death penalty. However, some other princesses may get tortured for not confirming to establishment anti-women rules.

In Saudi Arabia, some princes of the royal family can get away with things like drinking alcohol, wholesale smuggling of illegal drugs, rape etc. for which non-royal men might get harsh punishment, including the death penalty. Like with royal family women, there are a few exceptions to that rule.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Saudi Arabia executes prince

Today, 05:46

In Saudi Arabia a prince has been executed. This was done according to the Saudi Interior Ministry because he had killed a man in a quarrel three years ago.

It’s about Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, one of the thousands of members of the Saudi royal family. He is not known to have had an important job.

The death penalty in Saudi Arabia happens with great regularity, but there are hardly any cases of members of the royal family who have been executed. One of the most famous was Prince Faisal bin Musaid al Saud, who was executed in 1975 because he had murdered his uncle, King Faisal.

From the International Business Times today:

A Saudi state news service report said Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was put to death in the capital Riyadh but the report did not mention the method of execution used. Generally, most death penalties in the Islamic kingdom are carried out by beheading in a public square.

In one respect, Saudi Arabia today differs from sixteenth or seventeenth century England. There, beheading was a ‘privilege’, only for nobility people condemned to death. Commoners were hanged.

Saudi government beheads, people protest


In this Thursday, April 1, 2010 file photo, activists from a civil organization reenact an execution scene in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as they protest a possible beheading of a Lebanese man accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia

On this Thursday, April 1, 2010 photo, activists from a civil organization reenact an execution scene in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as they protest a possible beheading of a Lebanese man accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia.

From CBC News in Canada:

Bahrain police use water cannons, birdshot at Nimr al-Nimr execution protest

Jan 03, 2016 2:46 PM ET

Police in Bahrain have fired birdshot and used water cannons to push back demonstrators protesting Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric.

The protest happened Sunday on Sitra Island, south of Bahrain‘s capital, Manama. …

Hundreds also marched in al-Daih, west of Manama, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family and the Sunni family ruling Bahrain.

These protests followed demonstrations Saturday after Saudi Arabia announced it had executed al-Nimr. Bahrain‘s Interior Ministry announced Sunday it had arrested “several rioters and vandals … along with a small number of people who misused social media for illegal purposes” over the protests.

Al-Nimr was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy but denied ever calling for violence. …

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said it was not clear those killed were granted effective legal defence, while the scale of the executions was very disturbing “particularly as some of those sentenced to death were accused of non-violent crimes“.

Judicial process unfair, say rights groups

Human rights groups say the kingdom’s judicial process is unfair, pointing to accusations that confessions have been secured under torture and that defendants in court have been denied access to lawyers.

Many people all over the world are appalled by the mass executions in Saudi Arabia. However, not so, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who whitewashes them.

Meanwhile, Mr Nimr’s supporters in eastern Saudi Arabia prepared for three days of mourning at a mosque in al-Awamiya in the kingdom’s al-Qatif region, following protests on Saturday where police fired tear gas and small shotgun pellets: here.

Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world, the dictatorial monarchy of Saudi Arabia, ushered in the New Year with a torrent of blood, simultaneously executing 47 prisoners: here.

The coming Saudi crack-up? President Obama, like generations of Western leaders, has coddled the oil-rich Saudi monarchy by tolerating its reactionary politics, its financing of radical Islam and its military support for Sunni jihadist terrorism. But the spoiled Saudi leaders may finally be going too far: here.