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  • A general view of Ha'er Prison in Saudi Arabia July 6, 2015.

    A general view of Ha'er Prison in Saudi Arabia July 6, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 November 2019
Opinion

As of September 2019, the Kingdom executed 134 people, including six who were kids when they were arrested.

A Saudi Arabian court charged 38 people Tuesday of financing "terrorism" and declaring other Muslims as non-believers, handing out sentences ranging from 30 months to 25 years.

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The state-run news outlet Al Ekhbariya did not give the nationalities or names of those convicted out of the 41 people in total on trial.

Although it reported one of those sentenced had set up a "terrorist organization" while in prison and others committed takfir - labeling followers as non-believers - against the Saudi government, Muslim scholars and security forces.

As of September 2019, the Kingdom executed 134 people, including six who were kids when they were arrested. At least 58 of those killed were foreign nationals, mainly from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, and Egypt, and most were accused of spreading Shia Islam, a crime in the Sunni Arab state. 

On April 22,  37 men were beheaded in a mass execution for alleged crimes. One was crucified and another had his head impaled on a spike.

In a report presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, The Death Penalty Project revealed a further 24 people are at “imminent risk” of execution, including three children, prominent political opponents of the crown prince, clerics, and human rights campaigners.

Similarly, in a new report published on Nov. 4, Human Rights Watch pointed out all perceived critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and the Saudi regime, faced a deep crackdown since the latter’s rise to power two years ago after the removal of his uncle Muhammad bin Nayef by King Salman.

The report goes on to say that the practices of arbitrary detentions of dissidents, intimidation of their family members, endless summonses for interrogation, and prosecutions in “blatantly unfair trials on spurious charges,” despite not being a new phenomenon within the kingdom, have “accelerated and increased” since 2017. 

The new form of persecution of political activists started in September 2017 - three months after MBS became crown prince - when dozens of clerics, academics, intellectuals, journalists, and human rights activists were arrested in what was widely understood as an attempt to crush down dissent voices.

The report also highlighted a lack of accountability for those responsible for journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, a crime Prince Mohammed has sought to distance himself from. A U.N report released in June said there was “credible evidence” MBS and other senior Saudi officials were responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

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