CODEPINK Protests Saudi Arabia Barbaric Treatment of its Citizens.
On December 3 CODEPINK stage a demonstration at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC to protest the Saudi government’s announcement that it plans to execute over 50 people before the end of the year under the pretense of ‘counter-terrorism’. The number of executions in Saudi Arabia in 2015 has already reached 151, a number quickly catching up with the Kingdoms annual record of 192, documented by Amnesty International in 1995. CODEPINK activists deplore this barbaric form of capital punishment and the kingdom’s practice of sentencing people to death
“It’s outrageous that this close US ally beheads people for peaceful protests, for the content of their poetry, and for low-level nonviolent offenses,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. “We call on the Saudi government to cease its barbaric capital punishment, respect the human rights of its citizens and release peaceful protesters and political prisoners.”
The Saudi government recently sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for making “blasphemous” statements during a discussion group and in one of his poetry books. The accused, Ashraf Fayadh, 35, denies the charges and claims that another man-made false accusations to the country’s religious police following a personal dispute. Ashraf’s supporters believe he is being punished by the government for posting a video online showing the religious police (Mutaween) lashing a man in public; some also think he has been targeted because he is a Palestinian refugee, although he was born in Saudi Arabia.
The protesters used visual props and theater to help communicate the barbarity of the Saudi government headed by King Salman: Impersonator of King Salman, photos of prisoners, staged fake be-headings, a die-in to commemorate victims in Saudi Arabia and victims of the Saudi war on Yemen. Saudi Arabia is engaged in a horrific and bloody war on Yemen that protesters called to be stopped immediately.
“US taxpayers have spent trillions of dollars on military measures in the Persian Gulf over the last four decades. There is no reason to keep spending tens of billions of dollars a year to defend monarchies with horrific human rights records that behead hundreds of its own citizens and routinely attack or interfere in neighboring countries,” says Ali Al Ahmed co-organizer of the rally, she is the Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, an independent think tank in Washington.
During the gathering the demonstrators voiced their outrage over the Saudi government’s moves to flog women drivers and social activists in the country they carried placards saying “STOP THE HYPOCRISY HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL” and “WOMEN DRIVING IS NOT TERRORISM”. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving.
Wearing masks of Saudi Interior Minister Mohammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, protesters slammed the Saudi official for his moves to support the human right violations.
They also voiced their support for Raif Badawi, a young Saudi prisoner, who on January 9 was removed from his cell in shackles and taken to a public square in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There he was flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators who had just finished midday prayers. The 50 lashes—labeled by Amnesty International a “vicious act of cruelty”—was the first installment on his sentence of 1,000 floggings, as well as ten years in prison and a fine of $266,000, according to Codepink’s official website.
When protesters attempted to deliver a letter from the mothers of the condemned young men, the security guards responded with force to remove Code Pink from the embassy steps. Code Pink responded by calling out Saudi Arabia for supporting Daesh (Isis) and the security guards for protecting funders of terrorism and war.
Badawi’s case is not unique. In 2014, Reporters Without Borders described the government as “relentless in its censorship of the Saudi media and the Internet”, and ranked Saudi Arabia 164th out of 180 countries for freedom of the press.
Before the march to the Embassy steps, a group of Nubian protesters showed up condemning Saudi Arabia for building destructive dams in their homeland. CODEPINK issued a statement of solidarity with the Nubian protester at the scene.
CODEPINK calls on Saudi Arabia and all nations to end war and to use diplomacy to stop the endless cycle of violence and to respect the human rights of their citizens. For more information how you can help to end the violence please contact Alli from the DC office at Alli@codepink.org.
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