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.

Sri Lankan woman’s death penalty for false Saudi ‘adultery’ accusation


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

By Pani Wijesiriwardena in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan housemaid faces execution in Saudi Arabia

5 December 2015

Saudi Arabian authorities are about to carry out another barbaric execution: the public stoning to death of a Sri Lankan domestic worker. The 45-year-old woman, who worked in Riyadh since 2013, was convicted by a Sharia court for alleged adultery last August.

The Saudi monarchy maintains these reactionary laws as part of its repressive rule directed particularly against the working class, including the country’s estimated nine million foreign workers. This case also highlights the Sri Lankan government’s disregard for the plight of hundreds of thousands of citizens working in the Middle East.

The woman, whose name has been withheld by the Sri Lankan government and media, is reportedly a mother of three from Colombo. She went to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid in 2013. In 2014, she was arrested for allegedly committing adultery and after a trial beginning in March 2014 was found guilty of the charge.

The Colombo-based Sunday Leader, however, reported that the convicted woman had told her husband that she fled her employer because of unbearable living conditions and was arrested by police. Her husband sought the help of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) by lodging a complaint.

The plight of the woman has been widely condemned by human rights groups in Sri Lanka and internationally. In response, the Sri Lankan government has made token efforts to intervene on her behalf. SLBFE spokesman Upul Deshapriya told Arab News that the government has contacted the Saudi authorities to seek a review of the death sentence.

Nalin Rajapakse, media secretary for Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala, said that since the maid had already pleaded guilty, the conviction could not be overturned. He said the minister had hired a lawyer and filed an appeal before the Riyadh Court requesting that it reduce the punishment.”

The government’s priority, however, is to maintain good relations with the Saudi regime and thus the flow of remittances from migrant workers back to Sri Lanka. The attitude of President Maithripala Sirisena and the present government is no different to that of the previous government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

In 2013, Saudi uthorities beheaded a young Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who had been convicted for murdering her employer’s infant child. The Rajapakse government made no effort to help in her legal defence or to prevent the execution. Nafeek had no training in looking after infants and evidence came to light that the death had been accidental.

Even after a Saudi court sentenced her to death in 2007, the government refused to provide financial assistance for an appeal. Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella declared that it was “important not to violate Saudi Arabia’s domestic laws.”

Tens of thousands of poverty-stricken male and female workers seek jobs in Middle Eastern countries. According to Central Bank of Sri Lanka statistics, 279,952 Sri Lankans went to work in the Middle East in 2014. Total remittances from migrant workers were more than $7 billion in 2014, mainly from Middle Eastern countries. Remittances account for about 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product.

One of the main destinations of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from South Asia is Saudi Arabia. Under that country’s law, workers have virtually no rights. Domestic workers in particular are ill-treated, work as slaves and are not properly paid.

Indonesia announced in May that it had decided not to send workers to Middle East countries after two housemaids were executed after being found guilty of murder. The Indonesian government, which was seeking to deflect the mass outrage over the executions, said its decision would be implemented in 15 months. Like Sri Lanka, Indonesia is dependent on migrant workers as a lucrative source of foreign exchange.

Foreign workers are particularly vulnerable as they do not read or speak Arabic. According to Amnesty International, they are not provided with adequate translations of the proceedings in court.

James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, commented: “The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree which has seen at least 151 people put to death so far this year—an average of one person every two days.” In 2014, according to Amnesty International, the total number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia was 90.

“The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated,” Lynch said.

As for the Sri Lankan government, it is seeking to defuse mounting public anger over the looming execution, while ensuring not to offend the Saudi regime. Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Azmi Thassim, told Arab News that authorities were “vigilant about the progress of the appeal made to the Saudi Court of Appeal” and hoped that “the sentence would be lessened.”

At the same time, Thassim found fault with the Sri Lankan media for criticising Saudi laws. He also implied that the 45-year-old woman was responsible for her own fate. “The problem lies with the lack of awareness of local laws. If someone is not happy with the laws of the Kingdom, they should choose not to come,” he said.

Five things that Saudi Arabian women still cannot do: here.

US arms sale to Saudi Arabia criticised by human rights groups. More than 2,500 civilians have been killed in Yemen mostly in air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition: here.

Saudi Arabian government killing more and more people


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

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

‘Highest number of executions in Saudi Arabia in twenty years’

Today, 01:15

Saudi Arabia this year, according to Amnesty International, executed at least 151 people. That’s the highest number since 1995, when in one year 192 people were put to death.

In May, Saudi Arabia had already the ninetieth death penalty this year. That was as many as in all of 2014.

The conservative Islamic kingdom after China and Iran

where far more people live than in not densely populated, so comparatively worse, Saudi Arabia

the country that carries out the most executions. Many people are sentenced to death for non-lethal crimes. A large majority of executions is for drug offenses.

And for ‘crimes’ like ‘witchcraft‘, or being gay, or sex outside marriage, or free speech against the dictatorial government.

The condemned people are usually beheaded in public. In January human rights organizations asked for attention to that by putting a video on the Internet of an execution of a woman from Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents: here.

Will Saudi regime behead another teenager for free speech?


Dawoud al-Marhoun before he was arrested

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Second Saudi juvenile faces beheading, a day after Cameron was questioned over ‘squalid’ human rights deal

Dawoud al-Marhoon was 17 when he was arrested in 2012 and has been in solitary confinement since

Olivia Blair

Wednesday 7 October 2015 16:05 BST

It’s been revealed a second juvenile is facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, a day after David Cameron was confronted about the case of a 17-year-old sentenced to ‘crucifixion’ in the country.

According to human rights organisation Reprieve, Dawoud al-Marhoon had his death by beheading sentence upheld by the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court.

Mr al-Marhoon, 20, was reportedly arrested for activity linked with anti-government protesting during the Arab Spring in 2012, when he was 17. He was allegedly tortured and made to sign a confession statement and has been in solitary confinement since.

Allegedly, he has not been allowed contact with his lawyer and has been subject to secret trials without legal representation.

The case echoes that of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was 14 at the time of his arrest during the Arab Spring, and is also facing the death penalty.

The revelation comes after Mr Cameron was questioned on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in a widely shared interview with Jon Snow.

This 6 October 2015 video is called David Cameron on Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister confirmed the Foreign Secretary had discussed the issue with Saudi Arabia and said he would look to personally raise the issue.

When pressed by Mr Snow on why the UK signed a human rights deal with Saudi Arabia, in light of the country’s human rights “abuses”, Mr Cameron struggled to provide an answer.

Mr Cameron has also been criticised over a bid to build prisons in Saudi Arabia. Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said it is “grossly hypocritical for David Cameron to say he opposes these sentences, while his government is bidding to support the very prisons service who will be responsible for carrying them out.”

Reprieve say both Mr al-Marhoon and al-Nimr could theoretically be executed at any time with no notification given to their families, as the court has upheld both their sentences.

Stop Saudi teenager’s crucifixion for free speech


This video says about itself:

Man Arrested as Child in Saudi Arabia to Be Crucified

8 September 2015

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is set to be crucified in Saudi Arabia after spending three years in prison for crimes he is alleged to have committed as a teenager. Al-Nimr was accused of participating in an illegal protest … We look at the story on the Lip News with Margaret Howell and Jose Marcelino Ortiz.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr crucifixion: UN issues urgent call for Saudi Arabia to stay execution of juvenile offender

Mr al-Nimr was sentenced to death for being involved in anti-government protests when he was 16 or 17 years old

Adam Withnall

Thursday 24 September 2015 11:05 BST

The UN has issued an urgent call for Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a young man who faces imminent beheading and crucifixion for crimes he reportedly committed as a child.

A Saudi court has upheld the sentence of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of a prominent government dissident, despite growing and high-level international condemnation.

Mr al-Nimr, who was arrested in 2012 for his participation in Arab Spring protests when he was just 16 or 17 years old, could now be put to death at any time.

The young man’s case has been the subject of fervent campaigning from rights groups including Amnesty International and Reprieve, who say he was tortured and forced to sign a false confession before being sentenced to “death by crucifixion”.

Now, a group of UN human rights experts have penned a joint statement calling on Saudi Arabia to “immediately halt the scheduled execution” and give Mr al-Nimr “a fair retrial”.

The experts, including the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns and Benyam Mezmur, the chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of offending and after allegations of torture was “incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations”.

“International law, accepted as binding by Saudi Arabia, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the most stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution,” they said.

“In light of reports that the trial against Mr al-Nimr fell short of such standards, we call upon the Saudi authorities to ensure a fair retrial of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, and to immediately halt the scheduled execution,” the experts added.

The French government has also taken the unusual step of adding its voice to calls for a stay of Mr al-Nimr’s execution. Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: “France is concerned about the situation of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death even though he was a minor at the time of the events.

“Opposed to the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, we call for the execution to be called off.”

A court rejected Mr al-Nimr’s final appeal this month at around the same time as Saudi Arabia was chosen to head up a key UN panel on human rights.

But while the decision sparked outrage from campaigners and those affected by oppressive Saudi practices, the US State Department said it “welcomed” the move.

Speaking to AP’s Matt Lee, department spokesman Mark Toner said: “Frankly, we would welcome it. We’re close allies… We have a strong dialogue, a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans many issues.

“We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.”

Saudi Arabia executes ‘a person every two days’ as rate of beheadings soars under King Salman. Those killed include children and people with mental disabilities: here.

Saudi regime beheading children, disabled people


This December 2012 video is called Saudi Arabia – Oppression of Expression – Support Raif Badawi, Turki Al-Hamad and Hamza Kashgari.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia executes ‘a person every two days’ as rate of beheadings soars under King Salman

Those killed include children and people with mental disabilities

Adam Withnall

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people in the past year, at a rate of one every two days, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The kingdom killed 102 convicted criminals in the first six months of 2015 alone, putting it on course to beat its 1995 record number for the calendar year of 192. Those killed included children under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, and disabled people.

Amnesty, which alongside the AFP news agency keeps a record of the number of people the Saudi government kills, said the execution rate suddenly surged in August last year and continued to rise under the new King Salman from January.

According to a new 44-page report released by the charity today, at least 2,208 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since January 1985.

Nearly half of those, 48.5 per cent, were of foreign nationals, who Amnesty said suffer disproportionately under the Saudi justice system because of a combination of xenophobic prejudice and a lack of Arabic to understand proceedings.

More than one in four – 28 per cent since 1991 – have been for drug-related offences, and death sentences were also given for other crimes not considered the “most serious” – or even illegal at all – under international standards. They include adultery, “apostasy”, witchcraft and sorcery.

Said Boumedouha, Amnesty’s acting Middle East director, said the Saudi justice system which authorised the killings was “deeply-flawed”.

Read more:

The disturbing rise Saudi executions this year
Wife of jailed blogger pleads Saudi royals for ‘amnesty’
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announces major cabinet reshuffle

He said: “The use of the death penalty is horrendous in all circumstances, and is particularly deplorable when it is arbitrarily applied after blatantly unfair trials.

“Instead of defending the country’s appalling record, the Saudi Arabian authorities should urgently establish an official moratorium on executions and implement international fair trial standards in all criminal cases.”

Beheadings in public

Amnesty said that Saudi Arabia carried out most of its executions in the period by beheading, although some were killed by firing squad.

Despite UN calls for the end of executions by [sic; in] public, many convicts were beheaded in either the public square of the town or city where they were sentenced, or in other publically-accessible spaces.

In some cases, the remains of those executed were displayed in public as a deterrent to others, Amnesty said. Typically done in cases of “haraba” or banditry, this involved tying the decapitated corpse along with the victim’s head in a bag to a post in a public square.

Children and disabled people

Amnesty’s report highlighted two recent cases where vulnerable people were sentenced to death in clear violation of international standards and laws – including conventions to which Saudi Arabia is a party.

It said that on 27 May last year, a court in Jeddah convicted and sentenced to death a young man named Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, who was 16 or at most 17 when he was accused of committing crimes of demonstrating against the government, attacking the security forces and armed robbery.

Read more:

FBI accused of ‘covering up Saudi links to 9/11’
5 things we’ve learned from Saudi Arabia Wikileaks documents
King Abdullah’s friends stayed loyal, but revolution is on horizon

Amnesty said Ali al-Nimr was largely convicted on the basis of signed “confessions”, which he has said were extracted under torture.

This year, on 14 April, the kingdom executed an Indonesian mother of two and domestic worker accused of killing her employer. Despite reports that the security forces believed Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa suffered from a severe mental disability, she was interrogated and made to “confess” in 1999. Amnesty said she had no legal representation throughout her detention and trial.

No access

Amnesty said its report, “‘Killing in the Name of Justice’: the death penalty in Saudi Arabia”, was compiled based on interviews with those who had been sentenced to death, their legal teams or their families.

It also analysed legal documents, and kept track of government releases and reports on death sentences from official news outlets.

But the charity said it has never been granted access to the country itself, or received a single response on its findings or letters from the Saudi government.

In some cases, it said, families and convicts were told their cases would only be “complicated” if they tried to contact international bodies, and that they could only receive pardons if they didn’t do so. Relatives only went to Amnesty in such cases after they found they had been lied to.

Saudi Arabia ranked third in an Amnesty study of the top countries in the world for numbers of executions last year. It was behind China and Iran [both countries with many more inhabitants than Saudi Arabia], but ahead of Iraq and the US.

The kingdom has rarely commented in public on the harshest punishments in its system of religion-backed Sharia law. In a rare interview in 2003, a man described as the country’s leading executioner told Arab News he was “very proud to do God’s work”.

See also here.

British government stops anti-death penalty campaigns


This video is about the death penalty by beheading against a woman in Saudi Arabia who cries out that she is innocent.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Anti-death penalty campaigns ditched

Tuesday 4th August 2015

Tories scrap support for anti-capital punishment projects

THE Tories are set to scrap Britain’s support for projects working to end the death penalty across the world, human rights campaigners warned yesterday.

Many were left alarmed as a revision of the Foreign Office (FCO) human rights priorities seemed to leave out all reference to abolishing capital punishment.

According to legal charity Reprieve, verbal confirmation was given by the FCO that the government’s Strategy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty will not be renewed in January 2016.

Reprieve’s director of the death penalty team Maya Foa said: “At a time when executions in countries around the world are spiking, it is alarming that the government is ditching its strategy on the death penalty.

“With Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran all executing at a rate we haven’t seen for years, Britain’s move will send the wrong signal.”

Michael Gove – the new Justice Secretary in David Cameron’s Conservative government– called for the return of the death penalty by hanging in Britain. Maybe the British government thinks: ‘If we would like death by hanging in Britain, then we can hardly object to death by beheading in our ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’

The policy, which has been in place since 2010, was once described the former foreign minister David Lidington as a “firm goal.”

Campaigners raised further concerns as the FCO seemed to downgrade countries such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from its list of “countries of concern” and renaming them “priority countries.”

In a letter sent to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond last week, Ms Foa said she feared changes meant “the government will end all ring-fenced funding for death penalty projects and significantly scale back the FCO’s human rights department.

“Britain has a long and praise-worthy history of speaking out against the use of the death penalty.

“Reprieve respectfully requests that the government urgently reconsider its current course of action.”

Reprieve, which is not funded by the FCO human rights department, relies on its legal work on death penalty cases to survive.