Saudi Arabia is preparing to execute 19-year-old Abdullah al-Zaher for “being in the area of a protest” when he was the age of 15.
As part of a recent crackdown on dissenters, Al-Zaher’s planned execution comes on the heals of last month’s announcement for the mass execution of 50 Saudi citizens. Charged with “terrorism,” many of those awaiting to be executed were arrested mainly for protesting and political organizing while under the age of 18.
Now 19, al-Zaher was reported to have been beaten by police and later tortured while in jail. He was forced to sign a confession, which his family claims was under coercion and he not did comprehend.
After al-Zaher’s family unsuccessfully appealed to the Saudi government, they went public with their story and spoke to The Guardian.
“Please help me save my son from the imminent threat of death,” said Hassan al-Zaher, Abdullah’s father. “He doesn’t deserve to die just because he participated in a protest rally.”
Reprieve, a global campaign group, is attempting to convince the Saudi government to spare the lives of al-Zaher and two other teenage prisoners, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Ali Mohammad al-Nimr, who were also arrested on similar charges. Al-Nimr’s case is gaining world wide interest, as he is the cousin of Sheikh Nimr, who is a famed political activist set to also be executed.
— Reprieve (@Reprieve) December 17, 2015
“What we know from the families of the three is that they are in solitary confinement and being prepared for execution,” said a representative for Reprieve. “They have been moved and undergone medical examinations, which seem to suggest their beheading is imminent.
The whole business of executions in Saudi Arabia is shrouded in secrecy, and prisoners are often beheaded without any notice to family or lawyers.”
The government of Saudi Arabia stubbornly continues to ignore international protests. Humanitarian organizations are calling for Saudi Arabia’s allies to condemn the upcoming executions, but no nation has yet spoken out against the government’s recent actions.