Saudi Arabia’s plan to execute a female human rights activist not only shows that Riyadh’s reforms are just a sham but also that the Saudis are “almost out of control,” says a political commentator.
“Saudi Arabia has the worst human rights record on the planet and the new crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman) is playing a game saying he is a moderate and he is going to try to reform Saudi Arabian women’s rights,” said Journalist and International Lawyer Edward Corrigan during an interview with Press TV on Tuesday.
“But when you really look at his record closely, it’s just more of the same and even worse. They are executing women human rights activists, which is condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch the United Nations and other organizations,” he added.
Israa al-Ghomgham from the Qatif region in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province has been behind bars for 32 months.
She recently appeared in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital, Riyadh. The public prosecutor called for death penalty for six defendants, including Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem, who were arrested in a house raid by Saudi regime forces on December 8, 2015.
The final hearing in Ghomgham’s trial will be held on October 28, when a judge will either confirm or overturn the death penalty. If upheld, King Salman should ratify the case before the beheading will be carried out.
Ghomgham, a Shia, came on government radars during 2011 protests in Qatif and demanded an end to discrimination against Shia Muslims and the release of political prisoners.
Saudi Arabia is subjected to criticisms for executions. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi beheaded 48 people in last 4 months with most of them for non-violent drug charges.
Back in May, Saudi Arabia arrested three more women’s rights activists as the regime intensifies its crackdown weeks before it lifts a driving ban against women. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that the total number of detainees now stands at 10 with the latest arrests. However, the Lebanon-based [Persian] Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) put the number at 12.
Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province.
The Riyadh-Ottawa diplomatic brawl has already led to the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and recalling of the Saudi envoy from Canada.
Saudis have also suspended all flights to and from the North American state, halted their trade with the country, and ordered its students studying in Canada and patients receiving treatment there to go elsewhere by the next month.
“And then the crown prince and the King Salman just went crazy and they are pulling out all of their students, tens of thousands of students, in Canada,” added Corrigan.
“But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stood his ground,” he added.
“The Saudis have been spending billions of dollars trying to overthrow and bring about regime change in Syria. Of course they have destroyed the country,” he added.
“They are also dropping tons of bombs and weapons on Yemen, and they just killed a busload of kids,” he further stressed.
The Saudi attack on a school bus in the town of Dhahyan on August 9 that killed a total of 51 people, among them 40 children, and left 79 others wounded, sparked outrage from international human rights groups and UN officials.