Saudi monarchy uses death penalty as tool to crush Shia dissidents: Amnesty

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Saudi Arab
Thursday, 08 November 2018


Amnesty International has warned against what appears to be imminent executions of a dozen Shia men on death row in Saudi Arabia, blasting the Riyadh regime for resorting to death sentences as a “tool” to suppress the kingdom’s Shia minorities.


The UK-based rights body said in a report on Wednesday that there are signs the jailed Shia men – who had been sentenced to death in 2016 – could be facing imminent execution as they were transferred to Saudi Arabia’s so-called Presidency of State Security.
That institution was created last year with the aim of diminishing the powers of the Interior Ministry and putting the king in direct control of “state security” matters.
“The families of the men are terrified by this development and the lack of information provided to them on the status of the cases of their loved ones,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“Given the secrecy surrounding Saudi Arabia’s judicial proceedings, we fear that this development signals the imminent execution of the twelve men,” Morayed added.
She further said the men had been found guilty of what is claimed to be spying for Iran in “a grossly unfair trial.”
“Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners and regularly uses the death penalty as a political tool to crush dissent from the country’s Shia minority, demonstrating its total contempt for the value of human life,” Morayed added.
Saudi Shia Muslims have long been subjected to discriminatory and abusive policies by the regime in Riyadh. Saudi rulers have also kept the kingdom’s eastern regions – where the Shia Muslims are mainly based – under crackdown in attempt to prevent the minority community from practicing their religion.
Dozens of Shia activists have been languishing behind bars since 2011 merely for participating in protests calling for full equality and basic rights for all Saudis.
In January 2016, Riyadh executed prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, one of the most vocal critics of the royal family and an organizer of peaceful anti-regime protests.
Al Saudi’s suppression campaign is not restricted to the kingdom’s Shia minority. The authorities in Riyadh are notorious for intolerance towards all forms of criticisms and dissent.
Amnesty’s warning comes as Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been in spotlight for weeks over the brutal murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- at Riyadh’s diplomatic mission in Istanbul, Turkey.
Preliminary investigations have confirmed Khashoggi’s murder – to which Riyadh also confessed.
Investigators are now working to determine who has ordered the assassination, which was carried out by a team of 15 Saudi operatives – and where the journalist’s body is.
Many believe bin Salman was behind the murder as members of his inner circle were part of the 15 hit men.
Amnesty’s warning comes as Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been in spotlight for weeks over the brutal murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- at Riyadh’s diplomatic mission in Istanbul, Turkey.
Preliminary investigations have confirmed Khashoggi’s murder – to which Riyadh also confessed.
Investigators are now working to determine who has ordered the assassination, which was carried out by a team of 15 Saudi operatives – and where the journalist’s body is.
Many believe bin Salman was behind the murder as members of his inner circle were part of the 15 hit men.
A journalist and writer in Saudi Arabia has reportedly died as a result of torture while in the regime custody as the conservative oil-rich kingdom grapples with an international crisis over the murder of prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Turki bin Abdulaziz al-Jasser lost his life due to severe torture he was subjected to during criminal investigations at a prison.
Saudi authorities claimed that Jasser administered the Twitter account Kashkool or @calouche_ar, which disclosed rights violations committed by high-ranking officials and members of the royal family.
Several sources have reported that Saudi authorities discovered Jasser's real identity after a team of the kingdom's cyber spies infiltrated the Twitter headquarters in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, as part of the so-called Saudi online army founded by Saud al-Qahtani, the former chief adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Qahtani is said to be the architect of a social media campaign against Muslim preachers, intellectuals and critics of the Riyadh regime.
Qahtani, who was fired after being blamed for Khashoggi's murder, posted a tweet in August 2017, saying that fake names on Twitter would not protect those behind the accounts critical of the Saudi royal family.
Khashoggi went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul on October 2.
A senior Turkish official told the Washington Post on November 2 that the slain journalist’s body was destroyed in acid on the grounds of the Saudi consulate or at the nearby residence of the Saudi consul general.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said biological evidence discovered in the diplomatic mission garden supports the theory that Khashoggi’s body was disposed of close to where he was killed and dismembered.
“Khashoggi’s body was not in need of burying,” the official was quoted as saying.
Khashoggi, a distinguished commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.
His death has subjected the Riyadh regime and Mohammed bin Salman to strict scrutiny.
Hatice Cengiz, the journalist's fiancée, has accused Saudi officials of a massive cover-up.

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