Saudi Arabia Executes 81 in One Day, Breaking Record in Modern History

On Saturday, March 12, Saudi Arabia executed 81 men, including Yemeni, Syrian, and Saudi nationals. According to SPA (Saudi Press Agency), a state-run media, the men were found guilty on the charges of terrorism and holding “deviant beliefs.”

In a statement, the Interior Minister announced the execution and explained that the individuals were “convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women, and children.”

Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations, such as ISIS (Islamic State), al-Qaeda, and the Houthis,” the statement said. The Interior Minister added that individuals on the list traveled to conflict zones to join terrorist groups.

The statement also said that the last group to be sentenced to death this year was accused of planning attacks on economic targets, killing security forces, kidnapping, torture, rape, and weapon smuggling. 

The SPA said the individuals were provided access to legal counsel.

The massive execution dwarfed the kingdom’s previous record of 67 executions in 2021. Last year’s number is a 41% increase from the 27 in 2020.

Human rights advocates and experts are appalled at the country’s outright disregard for human rights. They are accusing the kingdom of handing out unfair trials.

In a statement on their website, Amnesty International called the execution an “appalling escalation in Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty.” The report also indicated that, with the recent executions, Saudi Arabia had killed 92 individuals in the first quarter of 2022.

Lynn Maalouf, the Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International, said these executions are handed out after “trials that are grossly and blatantly unfair.” She added that most trials rely on forced confessions “extracted under torture or other ill-treatment.”

According to AI documents, two men included in the 81 were identified as As’ad Ali, sentenced in January, 2121, and Mohammad al-Shakhouri, sentenced a month later. Both men were accused of taking part in anti-government protests, and both had accused the Kingdom of torture to force confessions.

Ali Adubusi, the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights director, said that some individuals were tortured and tried in secret.

However, Saudi Arabia denies all the accusations, claiming that it protects its country according to its laws.

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