Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, seen here in an undated photograph, was a vocal critic of the Saudi authorities (Reuters)
January 2, 2016
At least four people convicted of offences related to political protest are among the 47 reportedly executed by Saudi Arabia earlier today (Saturday).
Sheikh Nimr, Ali al-Ribh, Mohammad Shioukh and Mohammad Suweimal were all arrested in 2012 following their involvement in anti-Government protests, and subsequently sentenced to death. Ali was 18 when he was arrested, and sentenced to death for organizing and participating in demonstrations; vandalism; helping to organize demonstrations through the use of his BlackBerry; attending an address of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Mohammad Shioukh, 19 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to death for a number of offences, including writing anti-Government graffiti and filming demonstrations for the purpose of documenting and publishing their content. Both were tortured while in custody.
Their names were included on a list of executions carried out today by the Saudi Government and published on the website of the Kingdom’s official press agency. In total, 47 people were executed at various locations across the country.
In the statement, the ministry of the interior quoted the Quran, saying that “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.”
The list did not include the names of a number of people sentenced to death as children who are still facing execution. Ali al Nimr (Sheikh Nimr’s nephew), Dawoud al Marhoon, and Abdullah al Zaher were also sentenced to death over their alleged involvement in the 2012 anti-Government protests, despite having been aged 17, 17, and 15 respectively at the time. All three were also badly mistreated in custody, and tortured into signing ‘confessions’ to the offences alleged against them.
Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “2015 saw Saudi Arabia execute over 150 people, many of them for non-violent offences. Today’s appalling news, with nearly 50 executed in a single day, suggests 2016 could be even worse. Alarmingly, the Saudi Government is continuing to target those who have called for domestic reform in the kingdom, executing at least four of them today. There are now real concerns that those protesters sentenced to death as children could be next in line to face the swordsman’s blade. Saudi Arabia’s allies – including the US and UK – must not turn a blind eye to such atrocities and must urgently appeal to the Kingdom to change course.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.