Young protesters, secret trials, torture and beheading
Last week the Saudi authorities executed 47 people in one day. Among them were the prominent activist Sheikh Nimr, Ali al-Ribh, Mohammad Shioukh and Mohammad Suweimal. They were all arrested in 2012 following their involvement in anti-Government protests.
Ali, who just 18 at the time, was in school when he was arrested by police officers for attending protests. He was tortured, including being burnt with cigarettes and beaten, then sentenced to beheading in the in the country’s secretive Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). The charges against him included helping to organise demonstrations with a mobile phone and attending an address given by Sheikh Nimr.
Mohammed, who was 19 when he was arrested, was convicted in the same court on charges including chanting against the Saudi government and painting anti-establishment graffiti on walls. A ‘confession’ he signed after being beaten with electric cables and batons was used to secure his death sentence.
“Please help me save my son from the imminent threat of death.”
Hassan al-Zaher’s appeal to the international community
All three, who are held in solitary confinement, were tortured into signing statements that were used to convict and sentence them to death in the SCC. Speaking last month, Abdullah al-Zaher’s father, Hassan al-Zaher, said that the court process had been so secretive that the family had been unable to follow the progress of their son’s trial.
“With the executions of young protestors who were tortured and convicted in secret trials, the Saudi authorities have demonstrated utter contempt for the rule of law, basic human rights and their international obligations. There are now serious concerns that juveniles Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher could be next in line for the swordsman’s blade.”
Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team
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