Saudi Monstrosity and International Silence
By Huda Jawad
February 04, 2009 “Information Clearinghouse” — – For the past several weeks, dozens of family members have been reaching out to the Iraqi government in a fragile gesture meant to save the lives of their sons. In January 2009, Saudi courts convicted 25 young Iraqi men of trespassing into Saudi Arabia. Their punishment: beheading. Among the Iraqi prisoners are at least several men suffering from tuberculosis, all of whom are being denied medical attention by the Saudi judiciary.
Relatives of the Iraqi prisoners in Saudi prisons have been holding protests in the southern province of Al-Muthana, withstanding the bitter cold and wind. The response by the Iraqi officials has been ridiculously indifferent, with the buck being passed between the bureaucracies. Human rights officials have announced today that the case should be pursued by National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie. However, Rubaie has refused to take any proactive action in this regard. In September 2008, Rubaie had met with the Saudi King and authorized the transfer of 400 Saudi terrorists out of Iraq and back to Saudi Arabia. Any mention of the Iraqi death-row prisoners in Saudi Arabia was not present.
Iraqi politicians are far too engulfed in the elections to even grant a second glance to the young men about to lose their lives for petty crimes. However, these same power holders have no grievance with releasing Saudi terrorists and allowing them to live a normal life, long after they had wrecked that of the Iraqi children. Saudi Arabia has become the shame of the Muslim and Arab world; to think some claim these barbarians represent us is an insult to humanity and Islam.
Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Secrecy and the lack of internationally recognized standards of due process have long been distinctive features of the Saudi justice system. None of the Iraqi men had access to any form of legal representation, nor were they offered such an option. This is a recurring theme within the Saudi legal system, and it strips away the most basic of rights for prisoners, both foreign and domestic.
The treatment of detained foreign nationals both in the case of the Iraqi men and other multinationals gives insight into the closed world and fundamental flaws of the Saudi judicial system, including prolonged incommunicado detention, the absence of protection against torture, and other forms of mistreatment during interrogation. In many cases involving foreigners, foreign governments rarely if ever publicly raise fair-trial concerns or engage in other vigorous public advocacy on behalf of their nationals, prior to or even after their executions.
If this was any other nation, there would outrage, but since it is Saudi Arabia, the world has become complacent. The kingdom spends a fortune on US public relations firms to cover up human rights violations. In the year 2000, Amnesty International reported that Saudi Arabia has spent more than one million dollars on public relations firms to ensure secrecy about abuses of human rights. An oil-dependent international community sits back in silence as the suffering continues inside the kingdom.
The death penalty is used in Saudi Arabia more than in any other country, mainly because many crimes are punishable by execution. Defendants are typically poor foreign migrant workers from developing countries in Africa and Asia, often have no defense lawyer, and are usually unable to follow court proceedings in Arabic. For countless prisoners, they had no knowledge of their sentence until the actual day of their execution.
We must act now to save the Iraqi prisoners in Saudi custody. These Iraqi nationals were beaten until they confessed, and all claim that they are innocent. Prisoners in Saudi Arabia can be put to death without a scheduled date for execution being made known to them or their families. Subsequently, these men could be put to death any time.
Here is whom to contact regarding appeals in the cases of the Iraqi prisoners, while also expressing our outrage at the abuse of all prisoners:
Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 3113
His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al- Saud
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Fax (via Ministry of the Interior): 011 966 1 403 1185 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Majesty
Turki bin Khaled Al-Sudairy
Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889
King Fahad Road, Building No. 373
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Fax: 011 966 1 4612061
Huda Jawad is a writer for http://islamicinsights.com/, a weekly publication in North America.