A man was beheaded in Saudi Arabia this week, bringing the number of executions to 89 this year, according to AFP. In just five months, the count has surpassed the total for all of 2014.
Christof Heyns, a United Nations rapporteur, called the death penalty surge in Saudi Arabia is “very disturbing,” adding if the trend continues at this rate, “there will be double the number of executions, or more than double the number of executions, that we had last year.”
Although Saudi Arabia has always been notorious for its beheadings without proper trials, the Gulf kingdom has come under increased international criticism after five foreigners were executed in just one month.
In fact, a few months ago, it was reported that Saudi Arabia was beheading people at the same rate (and for the similar reasons) the terrorist Islamic State decapitates people. Yet, there has been a deafening silence from the United States government over the issue.
Also, it’s not just beheadings. The White House has ignored a range of human rights and international law violations for a while now.
While the reason for this deliberate disregard is, quite obviously, oil trade, it’s just odd how Saudi Arabia has managed to remain an important ally of the U.S. – a self-proclaimed bastion of human rights – despite:
Violating women’s rights
Misogynistic, religious and moral policing of women has been one of the most contentious issues surrounding Saudi Arabia for as long as anyone can remember.
Women in the conservative Islamic country are subjected to a number of (incredibly meaningless) restrictions. They are not allowed to drive cars or go to libraries and restaurants alone. They couldn’t even leave the country without being accompanied by a male guardian a couple of years ago.
As well as international law
Hundreds of people have died and thousands others have been injured and/or displaced as a result of the military operation, which Saudi Arabia launched on Yemen on March 27.
U.N. officials stated that Saudi airstrikes breach international law; however, instead of condemning the offensive, the U.S. President Barack Obama authorized logistical and intelligence help in support of Riyadh.
Utter disregard for democracy
While the U.S. is considered the world's most powerful democracy, its Saudi allies are the exact opposite. They practice hardcore feudal theocracy. There is no concept of listening to what the common man has to say. The final word comes from the royal family or top religious clerics.
In fact, according to a Saudi prince-defector, Khalid Bin Farhan al-Saud, democracy is the last thing the ruling monarchy wants in the country.
Also Read: Saudi Arabia, Syria And Political Hypocrisy
No respect for freedom of speech
Several rights activists, bloggers and journalists have been sentenced to jail for being "outspoken" or allegedly inciting religious hatred in Saudi Arabia, according to the nonprofit Human Rights First Society.
Critics of the royal family, government officials or key religious figures are mostly detained or subjected to imprisonment. Due to lack of any proper human rights legislation in the country, it’s all the more difficult for such people to fight against tyranny.
In November, Human Rights Watch alleged that Saudi authorities “stepped up their crackdown on online dissidents,” using "vague laws" to charge and prosecute citizens who dare to criticize the kingdom’s various unjust policies.
Most recently, secular blogger Raif Badawi, who has been jailed since 2012 for “insulting Islam,” was sentenced to 1,000 lashes.
Although international human rights proponents view Badawi’s imprisonment as an attempt to intimidate free speech, Saudi Arabia plans to go on with the completion of his punishment. He is to be flogged 50 times every Friday for 20 weeks.
It’s a well known fact that Saudi Arabia despises Shiite influence in its neighboring countries the same way Russia despises Western influence in Ukraine.
Shiites are a minority in the oil-rich country – they roughly represent 15 percent of the overall Saudi population of more than 25 million – and have been fighting for their rights, such as equal opportunities in the government and military as well as freedom of worship.
The community’s efforts have died in vain since the Saudi monarchy in the eastern province of Qatif has been actively quelling a Shia uprising by force.