“The monarchy has been using executions to terrify the population,” Ali al-Ahmed, an expert on Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that the tactic has been mostly aimed at the most active population in the Shia-dominated regions east of Saudi Arabia.
Ahmed said the West has failed in the Middle East to provide enough support to Shias in Qatif to enable them to stand against the Saudi aggression.
“The international community has no standards whatsoever when it comes to supporting the ruling family of Saudi Arabia against its own people who wants freedom,” he said, adding that the West’s inaction is the main reason why the Saudi authorities feel free to execute activists and continue to crack down on people in eastern regions.
Riyadh ponders another execution spree
The amnesty international has warned Monday that an imminent execution spree in Saudi Arabia was underway, saying 14 men, convicted in a "grossly unfair mass trial", were on the death row in the kingdom.
"King Salman's signature is now all that stands between them and their execution," said Samah Hadid, Amnesty's director of Middle East campaigns on Tuesday, adding that the convicts had been accused of rioting, theft and rebellion, charges normally brought against dissident and political opponent of the government in Riyadh.
The Amnesty said Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court, which has approved the rulings against the 14 convicts, used “sham court proceedings that brazenly flout international fair trial standards.” It added that the trial was aimed to “crush dissent and neutralize political opponents”.
The imminent execution comes despite repeated criticism by governments and right campaigners around the world who say Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly intolerant of the dissent and use sham legal procedure to muzzle the opponents. Many of those targeted in the crackdown are Shias from the east. Dozens of those activists, including top Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr, were executed in January 2016, with prosecutors claiming they had ties to Iran. The execution spree, one of the most unprecedented in size in the history of Saudi Arabia, sparked huge protests in Muslim countries around the world.
On Sunday, the Supreme Court handed down 15 death sentences to Saudi nationals on similar convictions of espionage for Iran. The convicts are among many others arrested in recent months in Qatif region as authorities step up pressure on citizens in the area. Four men were hanged on July 11 in Qatif, with Saudi Interior Ministry saying they had been convicted of “terrorist crimes.”
Amnesty international, which is based in Britain, says 66 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year. The rights group has repeatedly criticized Western governments, including Britain, for keeping silent on growing number of human rights violation cases in Saudi Arabia. It has even accused some elements in the British government of abetting Riyadh’s crackdown on the dissent.