Saudi Arabia has drawn outrage from the international community after it put to death 37 people and displayed a mutilated body of one of them on a pole for several hours. According to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), one person was crucified after his execution, a punishment reserved for particularly serious crimes. Executions in the ultra-conservative oil-rich kingdom are usually carried out by beheading.
At least 33 of the 37 Saudis executed by the kingdom in a single day belonged to the Sunni-dominated country's Shiite minority, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. Those executed hailed from Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Asir, as well as Shiite Muslim-populated areas of the Eastern Province and Qassim. The executions also took place in those various regions.
Amnesty International also confirmed the majority of those executed were Shiite men. The rights group said they were convicted "after sham trials" that relied on confessions extracted through torture. It marked the largest number of executions in a single day in Saudi Arabia since Jan. 2, 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people for terrorism-related crimes in what was the largest mass execution carried out by Saudi Arabia since 1980. At least 100 people have been executed in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia since the start of the year, according to data released by SPA.
The latest executions were carried out three years after another mass execution that were likely to stoke further regional and sectarian tensions between rivals Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-led Iran. The kingdom and its allies have also been emboldened by Trump's unwavering dedication to pressuring Iran's leadership, which includes his decision to pull out of a nuclear agreement with Iran and re-impose punishing sanctions to cripple its economy. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif yesterday condemned the silence of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on Saudi Arabia's mass executions. "After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day, even crucifying one two days after Easter," Zarif said on Twitter. He was referring to the murder of prominent Saudi journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi last year in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The brutal murder of Khashoggi has highlighted the grim human rights record of the country. Riyadh initially denied any role in the killing but has since sought to blame his death on a botched operation carried out by rogue agents.
The ongoing Yemen war has also revealed multiple violations of human rights by the kingdom. Schools and hospitals in the war-torn country have come under frequent attack, threatening the lives of many children. Saudi-led attacks have killed nearly 4,600 out of the 7,000 verified civilians who have died in the war, according to recent figures by the U.N. Human Rights Office.
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