As of September 28, today, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr has not been beheaded by the justice system of Saudi Arabia.
Human rights activists have not relented in their campaign to somehow pry Ali from this fate, especially with the possibility that the week we are now in was added to his life.
And now hacktivists have stepped in to take action. Several websites in Saudi Arabia—including the site for the Ministry of Justice and the servers of the Saudi Computer Emergency Response Team—were knocked offline this weekend, and members of Anonymous and affiliated groups have revealed that they were behind the attacks on the websites.
Ali, who is now 20 years old, was arrested in 2012 for participating in an Arab Spring protest in 2012. Thus he was underage at the time, and he has spent these three-plus years in jail. No evidence was given by the state to support his conviction. He was found guilty of the numerous evidence-free charges and sentenced to death by beheading, followed by the crucifixion and display of his body. An appeal that even he was unaware of (a human rights violation right there) resulted in the sentence being upheld.
Corporal and capital punishments in Saudi Arabia are typically carried out after Friday prayers, and last Friday passed with no news about the young man. No reasons were given last week for the punishment not being carried out.
Members of Anonymous took to Twitter starting this weekend to announce each achievement in locking down Saudi Arabia’s network. One statement, quoted in the Telegraph, read in part, “We will not allow you to slide with this act of inhumanity. Free Nimr and attacks will cease, keep up that attitude and this will just be the beginning.” (Members of Anonymous have been materially helpful to the families of Raif Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, and other fighters for human rights and justice.)
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) September 27, 2015
In a video posted online on September 22 and credited to an account called “OpNimr,” a masked figure with a masked voice reads the following: “Greetings citizens of the world. We Are Anonymous. Op Nimr has started. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr a innocent young teenage boy has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia and we will not stand by and watch. Hundreds of innocent people die each year because of the Saudi Arabian government and they will now be punished for their actions. After being detained at a juvenile offenders facility, Ali was allegedly denied access to a lawyer and subjected to torture. Campaigners also claim he was forced to sign a confession, which has formed the basis of the case against him. Naturally, the sentence was appealed but the appeal hearing was held in secret and apparently dismissed. Now, with all legal avenues exhausted, Ali could be crucified at any moment. Campaigners believe the UK government, who are allies with Saudi Arabia, can do something to stop the execution and are calling for them to intervene. The United Nations has also come under fire for giving Saudi Arabia a key human rights role—despite the country having ‘arguably the worst record in the world.’ this is why we need your help to spread the word, post on all social networking sites and include the tag #OpNimr & #FreeNimr, Thank you for all your support. We Are Anonymous, We Are Legion, We Do Not Forgive, We Do Not Forget, Expect Us!”
This afternoon, a Twitter account, also called “OpNimr,” released a list of new targets in an attached file and claimed some success:
— OpNimr (@OpNimr) September 28, 2015
A second video appeared on Saturday, and it was directed to King Salman directly: “Greetings citizens of the world! We are anonymous. This message goes to the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Saudi Arabian Government. In the last video we demanded the release of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. It seems you have ignored our letter and video directed to you. Since you have ignored our wishes we will now take action for your ignorance. 13 Judges have already approved the death sentence of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr meaning only King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has to approve it. We cannot and will not allow this to happen. The ministry of justice was taken offline a few days ago and we will continue to do this to other government websites. You can find the target list on Paste bin. OpNimr has now reached stage 2, it was not a good idea to anger us Saudi Arabian government. We hope you listen to us this time and release the young man. You will be treated as a virus and we are the cure. We are anonymous, we are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget, expect us, Saudi Arabian Government.”
Saudi Arabia is about to take the helm of a panel on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a fact that is outraging every person who is aware of that nation’s terrible history of fighting against human rights, of killing protesters like Ali or flogging writers like Raif Badawi. The fact that its diplomat, Faisal bin Hassan Trad, will take this position this week, the same week that the country may behead a young man for appearing at a pro-democracy protest, is singularly egregious.
The UN panel is the five-member Consultative Group, which is responsible for selecting 75 experts “with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.” Even though the matter of Saudi Arabia’s taking over this group is one of scheduled rotations within a large bureaucracy, the fact remains that that nation does not believe in human rights, not within its own borders, at least.
So much of the world’s economy is intimately tied up with Saudi Arabia’s oilfields that many of the global leaders who might not have any problem decrying the flogging of a blogger or the beheading of a protester if these were taking place in any other country than Saudi Arabia are criminally silent. Instead. they release statements about having “frank talks” with “important partners.” And that one partner, Saudi Arabia, goes on beheading people for being protesters or being related to pro-democracy protesters, as Ali is. (His uncle is in prison and faces beheading for being a pro-democracy activist.)
There is little I can do for Raif or Ali besides what I have been doing: I write about these stories, and I join in the chorus of voices spreading the word. I write, I Tweet, I hope. Rinse and repeat. This is where the talented people of Anonymous and its affiliated groups come in. Perhaps they can make a heartless nation feel something, some pain where it counts: its pocketbook and its pride.
* * * *
Follow The Gad About Town on Facebook! Subscribe today for daily facts (well, trivia) about literature and history, plus links to other writers on Facebook.
And please visit and participate in the Alterna-Prompt, “The Blog Propellant.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.