Mid West

Legal Murder

The proposed execution of Isra-al-Ghamgham

Credit : The only available picture of Isra according to the BBC

Human Rights Watch, on August 21,  reported that Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution is seeking a death penalty for five Eastern Province activists. Female human rights activist Israa al-Ghamgham is one of those five activists. These activists are under trial on charges of their involvement in peaceful activism with regards to the country’s terrorism tribunal.

Ghamgham is a prominent Shiite Muslim activist who participated in mass demonstrations. These demonstrations were aimed at ending the systematic discrimination against the Shia minority in the country that has begun in the Eastern Province starting in 2011. Ghamgham was arrested following a raid on her home in December 2015 along with her husband.

HRW, in a report, on Tuesday, claimed that the charges against the activists "do not resemble recognizable crimes" and include "incitement to protest", "chanting slogans hostile to the regime" and "providing moral support to rioters". HRW is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization, which defends the rights of people worldwide and reports it.

They are due to appear in court again on October 28, according to HRW.

"Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghamgham, who are not even accused of violent behavior, is monstrous," said Sarah Leah Whitson (Middle East director, HRW) while talking to news media.

ALQST, a group from the UK that advocates for human rights in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday in a tweet, reported the decision of the Public Prosecutor about the capital punishment and denied social media reports that the detainees had already been executed on Twitter on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and prohibits public protests. Saudi Arabia has taken over social and economic reforms recently under its young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. These reforms are however being implemented at a severe price of an unprecedented crackdown on human rights activists, clerics, intellectuals and female rights activists who campaigned for driving rights of women.

Not executed yet

While the Ghamgham faces the possible death sentences, viral pieces of news with an old picture attached to them had begun floating around the internet, claiming that the activist has already been executed. But the possibility of the execution remains real and if carried through, it will make her the first female activist to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.