100s of New Zealanders hold rally over Nimr execution, urge premier to cut ties with Saudi
Hundreds of people have held a protest rally in New Zealand’s most populous city of Auckland to voice outrage at Saudi Arabia’s recent execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and demand country’s premier to sever relations with Riyadh.
Around 300 people poured onto the Queen Street on Sunday and demonstrated in front of the Saudi Consulate to denounce Riyadh’s execution of Sheikh Nimr and to honor the top cleric, New Zealand’s Stuff news website reported.
According to President of the Islamic Council of New Zealand (ICONZ), Abdul Monem Nasser, Sheikh Nimr was a “man of peace” and democratic means, who spoke out in favor of all those deprived of their rights in the country. He added that the protest was staged to raise awareness on the issue.
“It is something that goes against all human rights, and we should stand for the defense of freedom and human rights and not any bloodshed for political views,” Nasser said, adding, “Suppression of freedom and peaceful expression of political views is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and can only lead to social disturbances and strife.”
The demonstrators also called on Prime Minister John Key to break off relations with the Arab monarchy, slamming its “bloodshed” of the peaceful freedom fighter.
“It is our duty as New Zealanders who know this man was a man of knowledge, man of science. He never ever picked up a gun, he never ever threatened anybody to do anything wrong,” said Seyed Derhamy, also from ICONZ, adding that Key must not remain silent in the face of such crime.
On January 2, the monarchy executed Nimr along with 46 other people in a move, which drew worldwide condemnation. He was charged with instigating unrest and undermining the kingdom’s security, charges he had rejected as baseless.
Riyadh has been under pressure over its violation of human rights, unfair detentions, shooting unarmed protesters, and torturing suspects.