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Mass Executions

January 03, 2016/ 1

. The Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said, in a rare statement broadcast on state television that the state had executed 47 people on Saturday for terrorism. T

he executions were carried out in 12 different locations. Some were beheaded, some were shot.

The executed men believed in “extremist ideology” and members of terror groups, included suspected al-Qaeda members but also a prominent Shia Muslim cleric, Nimr al-Nimr. Al-Nimr was known to be a driving force behind the protests that broke out in 2011 in the Sunni-ruled kingdom's east, where the Shia minority is marginalised.

The execution will be a blow to the voice of the minority. Brutal executions carried out by Saudi Arabia are nothing new, but 47 in one day is shocking.

Iran is specially irked at the killing of prominent Shias. International law, accepted as binding by Saudi Arabia, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution.

In defense of how Saudi Arabia applies Shariah, the kingdom’s representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Bandar al-Aiban, said in an address in Geneva in March that capital punishment applies “only (to) those who commit heinous crimes that threaten security.” However, it is evident that no such precautions have been taken.

The hangings are draconian, with the state giving no information on the actual crimes they have committed. The track record of past execution doesn’t do much to support official claims that those dead were actually terrorist. In 2012 they sentenced six teenagers to death after they attended rallies in 2012 calling for equal rights for the Shia minority. They condemned a 17-year-old teenager to be crucified – his headless corpse was publicly displayed for several days. Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that of the first 100 prisoners executed in 2015, 56 had been based on judicial discretion and not for crimes for which Islamic law mandates a specific death penalty punishment. Saudi Arabia is fearless and unaccountable.

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