Amnesty International has condemned a court decision which they say could see 14 men, including a student due to study in the US, beheaded for taking part in anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia.
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Mujtaba al-Suweyket and 13 other men have reportedly had their death sentences upheld by the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court for their part in demonstrations that took place between 2011 and 2012.
The protests were part of the Arab Spring upheaval and according to Amnesty International the men were found guilty in July 2016 on charges of “armed rebellion against the ruler,” “inciting chaos,” “using Molotov cocktail bombs,” and “shooting at security personnel.”
The men have now had their sentences upheld and could be executed if their death warrants are approved by the state.
“By confirming these sentences Saudi Arabia’s authorities have displayed their ruthless commitment to the use of the death penalty as a weapon to crush dissent and neutralize political opponents,” said Samah Hadid, of Amnesty International’s Middle East group.
“King Salman’s signature is now all that stands between them and their execution. He must immediately quash these campaigns which are a result of a sham court proceedings that brazenly flout international fair trial standards.”
Al-Suweyket was just 17 at the time of his arrest and had been accepted as a student by Western Michigan University prior to his detention.
Earlier this year, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) called for US President Donald Trump to use his influence to secure a reprieve for the student.
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“Saudi Arabia’s threat to behead its own citizens for attending an anti-government protest is an unthinkable and despicable violation of international law and basic humanity,” an AFP statement read.
“Should these executions occur, Saudi Arabia should be considered a pariah nation by the world. We implore President Trump, as the standard-bearer for our great nation, to do everything in his power to stop the atrocities that may otherwise take place in Saudi Arabia.”
The 14 men are thought to be held in a facility in Riyadh following their transfer from the city of Dammam on July 15.