Apparently emboldened by President Trump’s failure to raise concerns about human rights abuses on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, a Saudi has upheld a death sentence imposed on a disabled man who was arrested after he attended a protest.
According to this report, Munir al-Adam, 23, above, was beaten so badly he lost hearing in one ear during demonstrations in the Shia dominated east of the country in 2012.
Human rights campaigners have slammed the decision, calling it “shocking” and demanding the White House intervenes.
When Trump visited the Islamic kingdom on May 20, he praised King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his “strong demonstration of leadership”, and pointedly promised not to preach about human rights abuses:
We are not here to lecture – we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.
Munir al-Adam was sentenced to death in a secretive trial in the country’s Specialised Criminal Court last year. Now, an appellate court has decided the sentence should be carried out, despite international criticism. He has the opportunity to appeal the decision once more before King Salman signs his death warrant.
Said Maya Foa, the Director of Reprieve, a legal justice charity:
Munir’s case is utterly shocking – the White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession’.
He was charged with violent acts at a protest, a Reprieve spokesman said, but no evidence was produced at his trial other than the signed confession – made under duress, activists say.
The authorities accused him of “sending texts” but the manual worker was apparently too poor to own a phone.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners and notorious for its human rights abuses. Previous administrations have raised the issue of rights with Saudi leaders, but campaigners believe Trump’s failure to do so may have emboldened the state to proceed with controversial decisions.
Today’s judgment shows that, by failing to raise human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, President Trump has emboldened the Kingdom to continue the torture and execution of protesters.
The Trump administration must now urgently stand up for American values. They must call for the release of Munir, and all others who face execution for simply exercising freedom of expression.
After Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, Wilbur Ross, the US Treasury Secretary, said there was “not a single hint of a protester” in the country. The remark which was widely condemned because of Saudi Arabia’s severe restrictions on freedom of expression.