JANUARY 02, 2016
Domestically, Riyadh’s human rights record is abominable. Fundamental freedoms don’t exist. Criticizing ruling authorities risks arrest, imprisonment or death.
On Saturday, the kingdom’s interior ministry said prominent Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others were executed on phony charges of terrorism - mostly by beheadings, several by firing squad, done inside prisons instead of public squares, Riyadh’s usual procedure.
The mass execution was the largest on a single day since 63 victims were put to death in 1980. Iran previously warned against executing Sheikh Nimr, saying it “would cost Saudi Arabia dearly.”
He was brutally treated for justifiably criticizing repressive Saudi rule - harassed, beaten, shot, arrested, tortured, denied vitally needed medical treatment, and now extrajudicially executed.
In October 2014, he was sentenced to death on spurious sedition charges, for “seeking foreign meddling in (Saudi affairs), disobeying its rulers, and taking up arms against the security forces,” according to Riyadh.
No evidence whatever supported the outrageous charges. Sheikh Nimr justifiably criticized repressive rule, denounced its mistreatment of Shia Muslims and enjoyed widespread popular support for his views.
He told supporters Riyadh “depend(s) on bullets and killings and imprisonments. We must depend on the roar of the word, on the words of justice.”
He rejected violence, relied on the “weapon of the word.” He predicted rebellion if authorities continued their ruthless agenda.
His trial was a travesty of justice - rubber-stamp guilt by accusation with no chance for a legitimate defense, execution assured by kingdom diktat.
Saudis tolerate no dissent. Free and open expression are strictly prohibited. US-led Western nations and UN authorities with influence to intervene against its rogue practices remain largely silent.
Fars News reported eastern Saudi Qatif city residents massed angrily in response to Sheikh Nimr’s execution. Hundreds of heavily armed security forces were sent to suppress a possible uprising.
Press TV reported Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shia Council’s condemnation of Nimr’s execution, calling it a “grave mistake,” ignoring international calls to revoke his death sentence.
Pakistan’s Muslims Unity Assembly called the execution an outrage against Muslims worldwide. The Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement called Nimr a “holy warrior,” blasting Riyadh’s “flagrant violation of human rights.”
Hundreds of Bahrainis protested in the capital, Manama, voicing outrage over what happened. Demonstrators carrying Nimr photos were attacked by security forces. Despotic Bahrain and Riyadh are close allies.
Other demonstrations are expected throughout the region. In 2015, Saudi authorities conducted 157 largely public executions, mostly by beheadings, the largest single year number in 20 years - the regime notorious for showing no mercy, at home or abroad.
Prominent Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami said Saudi ruling family members will be “wiped from the pages of history.” An Iraqi MP expects Nimr’s execution to “set the region on fire.”
Riyadh operates like ISIS, the terrorist group it supports. Both specialize in outrageous atrocities, notably beheadings and other high crimes.
Death sentences are routine, especially against regime critics, prominent ones like Sheikh Nimr most vulnerable.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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