UK/Gulf: Saudi Arabia: Theresa May should condemn Saudi death penalties at GCC meeting

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SHAFAQNA – The British PM should use her meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia to condemn the country’s sentencing to death today of 15 Shia Muslims for alleged espionage.

Theresa May is visiting Bahrain to meet with leaders of Gulf states, who are in the country for a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

She will attend a dinner with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman on Tuesday, before addressing the plenary session of the summit on Wednesday.

IHRC believes the meeting is an opportune moment for the PM to raise concerns about Saudi Arabia’s liberal use of the death penalty against the country’s minority Shia under the pretexts of terrorism and spying.

In January, Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent religious and political opponent, after finding him guilty of involvement in the killing of policemen.

Shias in the kingdom’s Eastern Province say they face persistent discrimination affecting their ability to work, study and worship freely.

IHRC’s own 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 targets Shia Muslims to sectarianise legitimate opposition to the regime.

Theresa May should also raise with Saudi Arabia its ongoing war in Yemen which has seen countless atrocities against Yemeni civilians and the Middle East’s poorest country bombed back to the dark ages.

IHRC chairman Massoud Shadjareh said: “Since the PM is so fond of extolling the importance of so-called British values to a domestic audience it would only be right and proper for her to do the same in front of a leader whose country has not only shown scant regard for these values but whose human rights record get worse by the day.”

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