By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Saudi bloodletting of Shias - Where is the outrage?

April 25, 2019

TEHRAN - The custodians of Islam’s holiest places have turned the country into a slaughterhouse, spilling blood of innocents in utter contempt to the teachings of the man who many centuries ago had campaigned against ignorance, misrule and anarchy in the same land.

In a throwback to the ‘age of ignorance’ before the advent of Islam in the Arab world, Saudi rulers ordered the execution of 37 Saudi citizens on Tuesday, at least 34 of them Shias.
It has been described as the ‘biggest mass execution’ in the kingdom in last three years. Of course the Shias in Saudi Arabia have seen worst.

Among those executed include Sheikh Mohammad AlAttiyah, a prominent Shia scholar in Saudi Arabia, who like others was falsely accused of sedition and denied the opportunity to defend himself.

According to Saudi journalist Ali AlAhmad, AlAttiyah’s charge was moving to Jeddah to serve the local Shia community there.

Activist Abdullah AlSuriah was also among those executed on Tuesday. AlSuriah was a strong voice against the despotic regime in Riyadh and lived in a shanty house close to the world’s largest oil port.

Mujtaba Al Suwayket, who had been accepted into Michigan State University for his higher studies, was also executed for ‘participating in pro-democracy protests’. He was arrested at the airport.

Abdullah Hani Al-Tarif, who was arrested on sham charges and forced to confess to crimes like ‘chanting slogans and promoting social media propaganda’ was also executed on Tuesday.

Abdulkareem Al-Hawaj was a teenager when he was arrested in 2011 for being “near a protest”. After being on death row for eight years, he was finally executed, and like others denied fair trial.

Salman Qureish used his social media prowess to organize pro-democracy protests in 2011-12. He was 18 when he was arrested and finally executed on Tuesday.
Abbas Al-Hassan was married with four children and was arrested in 2013 on charges including ‘spreading Shia beliefs’ and ‘campaigning for human rights in the kingdom’. He was also executed on Tuesday.

Ahmad Hassan Ali, 34, was executed for ‘attending pro-democracy demonstrations and chanting anti-regime slogans’. He was brutally tortured in the custody and had fallen sick.
Munir al-Adam was sent to gallows for ‘participating in anti-regime protests’. According to reports, he was tortured in custody so ruthlessly that he turned fully deaf and partially blind.
Hussain Al-Rabi was a young activist from Qatif who belonged to a poor family. He fought for people’s rights and was executed for same. His younger brother was also killed in 2014.
Many of those executed were young Shia citizens of Qatif, Madina and Al-Ahsa and were active in their communities. They demanded equal rights and an end to discrimination, abuse, exploitation and killings.

Shias in Saudi Arabia have faced persecution throughout the country’s history, but the crackdown has intensified in recent years, especially since MBS took over in June 2017 following a bloodless coup.

Hundreds of Shia citizens have been executed in recent years on false charges and scores of others continue to be on death row, including Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdollah al-Zaher.

Most of them were arrested in anti-government protests in 2011-2012, which rocked the country's eastern province, with predominantly Shia population, who have been quite legitimately demanding an end to anti-Shia discrimination and the release of political prisoners.

The protests led to the execution of top Shia cleric Sheikh Baqir al-Nimr in 2016, who was put to death along with 46 other prisoners in the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia since 1980.

Amnesty International said the sentence was carried out “after grossly unfair trial” and said there were “questions about the fairness of the trial in a monstrous and irreversible injustice”.

In 2017, fierce clashes broke out between Saudi security forces and Shias in the eastern province following demolitions in the Shia town of Awamiya. At least 20 civilians were killed.
In July last year, after the execution of four Shiite men in country’s Shia-dominated eastern province, Amnesty said the Saudi regime was employing the death penalty as a “political weapon to silence dissent”.

The latest massacre and display of a mutilated body on a pole has sparked anger and outrage from human rights campaigners across the world. But the world leaders are silent.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other watchdog bodies said the executions were carried out after “sham trials” and were “a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities’ callous disregard for human life.”

Saudi Interior Ministry said the men were executed for their role in ‘spreading extremist ideologies, forming terrorist cells, fueling sectarian tension and plunging the country into chaos’.

The same old sweeping and vague charges the dictatorial regimes employ as a tool to crush voices of dissent, said Taha Hussain, a Lebanon-based human rights activist.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Middle East director, said the men were convicted after “sham trials” and were forced to confess to the crimes under torture.

“It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country's Shi'a minority,” she said.
“The use of the death penalty is always appalling but it is even more shocking when it is applied after unfair trials or against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime, in flagrant violation of international law,” she added.

Saudi Arabia have executed over 100 people since the beginning of the year and is on its course to surpass the last year's number if it continues at the same pace, said the watchdog.
Human Rights Watch described the executions as “grotesque,” and said it represented a “day we have feared.”

“Today's mass execution of mostly Shia citizens is a day we have feared for several years. The punishments are especially grotesque when they result from a flawed justice system that ignores torture allegations,” said Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at HRW.

Shia citizens of Saudi Arabia make up 10-15 percent of the country's population a`nd have long faced discrimination and exploitation from the country’s rulers.

Social media has been abuzz since yesterday with posts denouncing the Saudi regime over its blatant disregard for international humanitarian laws and criminal silence of the international community over it.

“These citizens were detained because they spoke out against the oppressive Aal e Saud regime… They were not terrorists, nor were they a threat to other citizens,” UK-based human rights activist Ruhi Rizvi wrote on her Facebook page.

U.S.-based prominent journalist Mahdi Hasan took to Twitter to slam a pro-MBS Saudi journalist for his silence over the Saudi executions.

“Dear @aliShihabi, you spent much of today tweeting about Iranian oil exports and sanctions but haven’t tweeted one word about the mass executions in Saudi, most of them Shias, some of them arrested as kids. Have you come up with an attempted justification/defense of MBS yet,” he wrote.

Saudi dissident Mustafa Al-Sadah in a tweet said the Saudi crown prince was misusing terrorism laws to get rid of his opponents.

“If the Saudi government has nothing to hide and believes its juridical system is fair and just, then why judges are conducting trials in secret? Why Saudis are being beheaded and crucified without specific charges,” he asked.

“Where is the outrage,” asked a Twitter user Salah. “Why can’t the governments around the world keep their business interests aside and condemn this barbarism and murder of humanity.”

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