Saudi Arabia executed 37 people. They were convicted of terrorism. Amnesty International doubts the reasons and suspects political interests behind the executions.
In Saudi Arabia, according to the Interior Ministry, 37 citizens have been executed for terrorist offenses. This was reported by the channel Al-Echbarija and other state media. The executed were all found guilty of having acquired „terrorist, extremist thinking,“ it said. They wanted to spread chaos and provoke religious conflicts.
Murder of government critics?
Amnesty International criticized the „mass execution“ and spoke of an alarming escalation of death sentences in the Arab kingdom. „It’s another horrifying sign of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool,“ said Lynn Maalouf of Amnesty International. The majority of those executed came from the country’s Shiite minority. The men had been convicted in sham negotiations that contradicted any international standards.
The death sentences had been carried out in the capital Riyadh, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, in the province of Kassim and in the eastern province, the Ministry of the Interior announced in a statement published by the official news agency SPA. The executives had come from different parts of the country.
Among the executed were eleven men convicted of espionage for Iran, Amnesty said. At least 14 other people were convicted of participating in anti-government protests in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012. The convicts included a young man who was only 16 years old at the time of the protests. Under international law, the death penalty against minors is prohibited, as Amnesty emphasized.
Heads the most common method of execution
According to news agency AFP, one of the convicts was crucified. This is a style of execution intended only for particularly serious crimes. The news agency AP reported that all convicts had been beheaded. Heading with a saber is the most common method of execution in Saudi Arabia. A body had also been publicly displayed for several hours on a stake. Both agencies relied on information from the Ministry of the Interior.
The fact that executions are publicly displayed is recurrent in Saudi Arabia but is not the rule. Human rights activists criticize such an approach. The government sees it as an effective deterrent.
IS previously claimed attack in Al-Sulfi for itself
Apparently, the executions are related to an attack in Saudi Arabia. The terrorist militia „Islamic State“ announced yesterday that it was responsible for an attack on a security building in the Saudi city of Al-Sulfi on Sunday. All four attackers were killed and three security men were injured.
According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, in 2018 149 people were executed in Saudi Arabia. That’s the second highest number after Iran with 253 executions.