IHRC has written to the United Nations urging it to intervene to help stop the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia.
The sheikh’s fate nows lies in the hands of the Saudi ruler, King Salman, after the Supreme Court today confirmed an earlier death sentence against him. The king can suspend or endorse the execution.
Sheikh Nimr is a leading Shia scholar for whom the Islamic Human Rights Commission has consistently campaigned since his arrest in 2012. He was detained on trumped up charges of apostasy and terrorism after leading anti-government protests in the country. He has been severely tortured in detention.
The letter says that in view of OHCHR’s ongoing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s liberal use of the death penalty, it should exert pressure on Riyadh to revoke the sentence and immediately release Sheikh Nimr.
Sheikh Nimr is one of many victims of the government’s crackdown on all opposition to its authoritarian regime. IHRC’s research from 2011 (the beginning of the demonstrations in the Shi’a majority Eastern Province) indicates that there are an estimated 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia out of a population of approximately 18 million Saudi nationals. Whilst the 30,000 political prisoners are drawn from different sections of Saudi society, the government uses the arrest of personalities like Sheikh Nimr to sectarianise opposition to the regime.
Sheikh al-Nimr has been active in demanding more liberty, constitutional changes and an end to sectarian discrimination in the country. His arrest, detention and planned execution are set against the backdrop of the increasing violence and authoritarianism of the Saudi state that seeks to marginalise and abuse minority groups in particular.
Today’s confirmation of the death sentence also makes a mockery of the UN Human Rights Council given Saudi Arabia’s presence on it.
At the same time IHRC has also urged British opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to use his office to help secure Mr Nimr’s release. Soon after his election last month as Labour party leader Mr Corbyn called on the PM David Cameron to get involved in improving human rights in Saudi Arabia.
Notes to editors:
The letter can be read in full at https://ihrc.org.uk/activities/campaigns/11553-a-letter-to-the-ohchr-regarding-sheikh-nimr
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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