Posts Tagged ‘executions’

Shocking news of a beheading spree in Saudi Arabia.  Allegations of a crucifixion

It has been widely reported that Saudi Arabia executed 37 individuals on Tuesday 23 April 2019 in what was the biggest mass execution since 2016.  The executions have been widely condemned around the world and mark an alarming increase in the use of the death penalty by the regime.  Any hope that the rise to power of Mohammad bin Salman (pictured) marked a more liberal regime seem well and truly to be finished.

The UK government is usually quite reticent in these matters claiming to make its views known behind the scenes.  However, in this instance, diplomatic language seems to be set to one side following an urgent statement in the House of Commons:

The Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, answering an urgent question in the Commons, spurned the usual diplomatic niceties, saying the mass executions were “a deeply backward step which we deplore”. He added it was “deplorable and totally unacceptable” that at least one of those executed had been a minor at the time of the arrest.
He highlighted reports that one of those executed was displayed on a cross, saying that anyone in the House, just two days after Easter, would find “more repulsive than anything we could picture.  Parliament site [accessed 24 April 2019]

In response, Sir Vince Cable said:

We are in urgent need of a reappraisal of our relationship with Saudi Arabia given that the continued medieval barbarism of the regime does not constitute the basis for a friendly alliance, and indeed makes it an enemy of our values and our human rights.  Ibid

The executions follow sham trials and according to Amnesty International, involve confessions achieved through the use of torture.  The families of those executed were not told of the executions in advance.  It has been reported that one head was displayed on a pole and that one man was crucified.


One individual, Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was arrested at the age of 16 and the execution of people under the age of 18 at the time of their arrest is against international law.

So far this year, Saudi has executed 104 people and if the current rate continues, will exceed last year’s total of 149 for the whole year.

Saudi Arabia is a major customer for our arms industry and our weapons are among those being used in the devastating war currently being waged in Yemen

Sources:  Parliament site; CNN; Guardian



UPDATE  The Amnesty death penalty report is now to hand and can be accessed here.

The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.

Note that China remains the world’s leader in executions but the details and statistics are a state secret.

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Amnesty publishes a report today on the programme of mass executions in Syria

A terrifying and sickening report on the execution of possibly 13, 000 Syrians is published in a major report by Amnesty.  The report makes chilling reading as testimony from survivors and guards describe the horrific process of killing and disposal of bodies by the regime.  A summary of the report is published in the Guardian today.  There is also a piece by Kate Allen, director of Amnesty describing the prison as a slaughterhouse.

Saydnaya report

Graphic: The Guardian

The news today that Saudi Arabia has carried out a mass execution of 47 people has caused international outrage and speculation about the future of the ‘House of Saud’ itself.  In our review of 2015 we noted the continuing dire human rights situation in Saudi was a backdrop for the year.  In particular, we noted the closeness of our government to the regime, whatever they did on the human rights front, and how we continued to sell them arms which were used to attack Yemen.  This new outrage raises the bar and the scale of international reactions may indeed have a dramatic effect on the future of the country.


The media has devoted considerable space to the #executions of five people in #Indonesia.  It has been on No to the death penaltythe main news and in all of the main papers in the UK to a greater or lesser extent.  There is a general sense of outrage that the execution and the manner of its doing – that is by firing squad – are barbaric.  One would be forgiven for thinking that Indonesia is the only place where people are being executed.

It isn’t.   We must not forget that China continues to execute more than the rest of the world put together although the precise number is not known because it is a state secret.  Executions continue at a faster rate than previously in Iran.  Public beheadings still continue in Saudi Arabia.  And in the southern states of USA, many are executed after spending years and years on death row.  Pakistan has been busy too.  The list is a long one.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all cases.  We should be outraged wherever it happens not just in one country such as Indonesia.  If you feel outraged at the use of this penalty, why don’t you join us and write letters or send emails?  Follow this site or the Amnesty site for urgent actions.

Latest death penalty report

Over the last two weeks there has been considerable outrage over the gruesome execution of the American #JamesFoley by beheading allegedly by a jihadist from the UK, possibly London.  That someone nurtured on these shores should go to another country and commit such a crime horrifies people in this country and of course the USA.  The execution has added to the degree of urgency in the government and there are plans to bring in legislation to confiscate passports and monitor the movement back to this country of jihadists from ISIS areas of Iraq.

ISIS forces

ISIS forces

The barbaric and medieval nature of the crime has shocked many in the west.

In the last three weeks – between 4 and 22 August – 23 people in Saudi Arabia have been executed by beheadings. These executions take place in public and frequently, the bodies are left on public display as some kind of deterrent. Around 2000 have been executed in this fashion since 1985.  Around half are foreign nationals.

The executions follow trials where confessions are read out.  Many or even most of the confessions are extracted following torture.  Defendants often do not have legal representation and may not be able to follow the trials such as they are.  You will have to look long and hard to find much about these executions in western newspapers.

How are the two connected?

Saudi Arabia, along with Qatar, are in receipt of considerable quantities of arms from western countries including the UK.  David Cameron visited the country to promote trade and arms sales.  The Campaign Against the Arms Trade #CATT has found out that we exported £113 million of arms to Saudi in 2013.

With American support, both countries were arming the Syrian rebels of which the Islamic State is one.  So we support and provide arms to countries which are in turn supporting the Islamic State and which carry out barbaric executions in public.  Almost nothing is said about this and it receives very little coverage.

We need to be more balanced in our policies and attitudes to some of these despotic regimes.  If we are going to say nothing about barbaric behaviour because it might upset an arms deal to Saudi or Qatar, it is then inconsistent to start making speeches when no arms deals are in the offing.