A demonstration to be held this weekend outside Downing Street intends to draw attention to the British government’s continued support for the Saudi Arabian regime despite its continued human rights abuses.
Timed to commemorate the 40th day anniversary of the execution of the scholar and political activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi authorities, the protest will remind people that through its active support of Saudi Arabia, the British government is complicit in the regime’s abuses.
The killing of Sheikh Nimr last month was widely seen as an assault on the forces of reform and political empowerment in the Muslim world. The outspoken leader was executed after being convicted in 2014 under charges that included “disobeying the ruler”, “inciting sectarian strife” and “encouraging, leading and participating in demonstrations”.
His killing signalled a renewed determination in Riyadh to undermine opposition and reform movements at home and abroad highlighted by Saudi Arabia’s bloody intervention in Yemen, its support of the Egyptian military dictatorship as well as its promotion of sectarianism in places like Nigeria, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Until his arrest Sheikh Al-Nimr had been an outspoken critic of the Saudi monarchy and his calls for equality and reform. He supported the right of people to choose their own government and called for the downfall of the Saudi ruling family.
Because Sheikh Nimr’s conviction was mainly based on his sermons (ie what he said and believed), he was widely considered a prisoner of conscience.
According to a 2011 report by IHRC, there are an estimated 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia out of a population of approximately 18 million Saudi nationals.
The demonstration will take place at Downing Street in London on Sunday 21 February between 2.30-5pm.
Notes to editors:
IHRC’s hard-hitting report into political prisoners, ‘Saudi Arabia’s Political Prisoners: Towards a Third Decade of Silence’, can be downloaded at http://ihrc.org.uk/attachments/article/9867/Saudi%20Report%20A4-v04.pdf
For media enquiries or further details please call +44 7903 053362 or +44 7958 522196[Ends]
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222