It was confirmed this week that the conviction of and death sentence for Mohammad Suwaymil was upheld in a Saudi appeals court this month. He is one of seven individuals arrested for protest in Saudi Arabia—including Ali Mohammed al-Nimr—and his case was the last one against the seven that had not been heard all the way through the appeals process; with that announcement, reports came out from some of the prisoners’ families that conditions have been made even worse for each of the seven.
Whether or not any of them know what has transpired in Saudi Arabia’s legal system, whether or not any of them know they are being treated as a group inside that legal system, each man seems to know that a horrible end is now within sight. By the time you read this, these seven men: Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, Ali Saed Al-rebeh, Mohammed Faisal al-shyookh, Dawood al-Marhoon, Abed allahhassan al-Zaher, Ali Mohammad al-Nimr, and Mohammad Suwaymil, may already have been beheaded and their dead bodies put on display, crucified.
Each man was recently moved to a different prison, al-Hair, in the capital city of Riyadh, without notifying their lawyers; each man was placed in solitary confinement; previously scheduled family visits were cancelled with little notice and then suddenly rescheduled; and the already time-limited phone calls to family members have been cut shorter. Aside from Sheikh Nimr, the other six were all minors when they were arrested. Each of the seven signed a confession that was extracted after torture. Each of the seven has been charged with exorbitant, superhuman, crimes. Sheikh Nimr spoke out in favor of democracy but not revolution; the other six were arrested because they happened to be at Arab Spring protests, and each one was severely injured in the process of arresting them. It appears that the severity of injuries suffered while being detained is interpreted as an admission of guilt in the Saudi system of jurisprudence.
A reliable reporter on the website “Movements” produced a description of the visit this week between Dawood al-Marhoon and his family: “During Dawouds (sic) visit, his mother noted that upon saying goodbye to his sister, the farewell was so much more different than previous visits. He clung onto her, and wouldn’t release the hug, as though it was the last time he would ever see her.”
Ali al-Nimr has been in solitary confinement since October 5. For most of the last six weeks, he has been reported to be ill with the flu or bronchitis and untreated. In the words of the report on the Movements website, he has been “prevented from getting treatment.”
Protest marches on behalf of the seven activists are being held in front of Saudi embassies around the world as I type this. Anonymous and hacktivists affiliated with the Anonymous collective have promised to hurt the Saudi regime; a “Twitter storm,” a form of online protest, is taking place today.
A reporter for the British newspaper the Telegraph, Richard Spencer, was allowed to view a memo from inside the Saudi regime this week and published an article about it. (This may be a result of the Telegraph’s editorial willingness to publish Saudi regime propaganda as letters to the editor.) In the memo, Ali al-Nimr’s case is discussed, and it is chilling for those of us who care about human rights:
The al-Nimr family members pursued violence and attacks on security forces and government facilities beside terrorising civilians, hooliganism and vandalism. It is a clear criminal act that led to murders of police officers. We have all the rights to maintain safety and security of our citizens and we cannot understand the demands to make it go unpunished.
When you see the Twitter hashtag “#Savethe7,” the above story is what it references.
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And yet, Saudi doctors will study hard to cure and prevent disease? Why bother? They undo with one hand what they do with the other. That is true of us all, when it comes to the death penalty (under any camouflaged form). I will be asking the Lord for mercy for these captives, and for their captors whose hearts stopped growing a while ago — which is not alright anywhere. That is the one thing we as human beings must do: enlarge our hearts. Without that, we are the missing link.
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