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Despite deeply flawed trials, pro-government media sources increase fears surrounding Saudi’s plan to execute activists

لقراءته بالعربية اضغط هنا

ESOHR would like to bring urgent attention to the deliberate and strategic media campaign to publish news on the imminent mass execution of over 50 individuals in Saudi Arabia.

Since the 20th November several Saudi sources close to the government published news of a mass execution. Initial articles were published by pro-government media Okaz, Al-Riyadh, Al-Jazeera (some have since been deleted). As well as these sources, there have also been more unofficial channels used to spread the news in the form of rumors, using twitter accounts thatare known as a close source to the government and give accurate news, with the purpose of measuring the publics reaction to the planned executions.

The news shows a staged or step-by-step approach to reporting the news, as the early reports from the pro-government newspapers are vague with only basic details mentioning that some of those to be executed come from the Al-Awamia region, whilst the latest more unofficial reports are highly detailed and specifically mention that 7 are from Qatif, thus such reports are deeply concerning and cannot be ignored.

Based on our monitoring, this carefully staged management of this mass execution news suggest it is being deliberately orchestrated, whilst the unofficial reports circulating contain in-depth detail. It is a means to gauge public reactionand measure the consequences for the forthcoming executions, as the cases of the 7 Qatifi activists are highly sensitive and have attracted international condemnation.

In addition, this mass execution represents a plan that attempts to mix up the cases files of peaceful activists from Qatif/Awamia and potential terrorists who have been linked to violent terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda. Such a strategy will reduce the likelihood of objections from the Saudi public, under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Furthermore, we would say that the news of a potential pardon for Raif Badawi (which we indeed hope to be true) seems to be well timed, considering that they intend to execute peaceful activists simultaneously in the coming days.

These indicators consist that the seven lives are under threat. The activists are: Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr is a prominent human rights defender, the case of three activists who were minors: Ali Al-Nimr, Dawud Al-Marhoon and Abdullah Al-Zaher and a further three individuals: Ali Al-Rebh, Mohammed Al-Shyoukh and Mohammed Al-Suwamil.

All of whom took part in the pro-democracy demonstration during the Arab spring in Saudi Arabia in 2011-12. Based on trumped up charges, they were all sentenced to death. None of the charges on their charge lists includes any kind of charges related to killing or inflicting injuries.

These strong indicators compelledthe mothers of the activists to publish an official joint statement whereby they highlight the violations against their sons, place responsibility on King Salman the responsibility for any loss of their life. Additionally, some of the mothers have issued personal video accounts of their sons cases, and these can be seen here: Ali Al-Nimr’s mother (Nusra Al-Ahmed), Dawud Al-Marhoon’s mother (Amena Al-Saffar), Abdullah Al-Zaher’s mother (Fatima Al-Ghzwe), Ali Al-Rebh’s mother (Zahra Al-Rebh).

The latest updated on these seven is that they are all currently being held in solitary confinement. The duration of solitary confinement is as follows: Sheikh Al-Nimr for 1242 days, the 3 minors for 58 days and Al-Shyoukh& Al-Rebh for 66 days. All are currently being detained in Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, apart from young Abdullah, who was suddenly transferred to Aseer prison for no clear reason. In Tuesday 1st November 2015, a call was received from all the individuals, and a family visit to Sheikh Nimr also took place. Abdullah’s last phone call from his new place of detention was on Sunday 29th November. These calls home (scheduled for a Tuesday) are very important to the families, as it helps them to verify that they are alive, however, since their detention, the boys have phone calls home have not been regular and this has caused a lot of distress to their families. There is no way of telling if this will be the last call home (or last visit), as their fates remain uncertain, particularly after the news of the mass executions.

Furthermore, the treatment of the prisoners has become worse in recent weeks, with regards to denial of access to basic amenities and hygienic supplies. ESOHR has also raised its concerns regarding the decline in health of Sheikh Nimr due to negligence of medical care.

ESHOR ensure that there is a serious need tomotivateall human rights defendersaround the worldto stop theseexecutions and to protect the life of the 7th.

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