Order the spring issue here

Saudi Arabia's terror war on human rights

Norway's partner in the war on terror is leading the way by silencing the votes needed to overcome it.  

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

“I ask myself; who is the first terrorist to receive the honor of being convicted under the new terror law. ”This issue was posted by Saudi defense lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair on Twitter 1. February 2014. On this day, Saudi Arabia's former king introduced the country's new terror law aimed at criminalizing more or less all opposition under the term "terror".

A few months later, Walid answered his question – it was he himself who was hit by the country's new terror law. He became the first critical voice the Saudi royal house chose to prosecute as a terrorist – today he is serving 15 years in prison for his work on human rights in Saudi Arabia. The judgment handed down to him claimed that he had shown disobedience to the ruler of the country and tried to undermine the king's legitimacy in his fight against torture, arbitrary imprisonment and unfair trial. At the same time, he had never advocated the use of violence or encouraged others to do so.

The use of violence is not a criterion for being convicted as a terrorist in Saudi Arabia.

Quiet acceptance. The use of violence is not a criterion for being convicted as a terrorist in Saudi Arabia. The law does not define what terror is, but can be used to prosecute any statement that the royal house considers problematic. Towards the end of 2017, terrorist legislation was further tightened: Today anyone who directly or indirectly offends the king or crown prince can be sentenced to prison for up to ten years.

Under the leadership of King Salman of 2015 and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of 2017, the number of death sentences in terrorist courts has increased significantly. It is especially representatives of the Shiite minority in the country who are confronted with the royal house's sword – allegedly Iranian spies. In reality, Shia youth dared to demonstrate for rights in the wake of the Arab Spring. Mass executions have taken place in recent years and dozens are waiting today only for the king to give his clear signal that the beheadings can be carried out. Several of those who received the death sentence were under 18 years when they committed their crime involving participating in demonstrations.

This is the reality of the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which is also a very influential player in the international arena. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer, the world's second largest arms importer, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East and a partner in the war on terror. When Norway joined 2014 in the US alliance against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, we also became a partner with Saudi Arabia, which at that time began to practice its new terrorist legislation. Nevertheless, no critical Norwegian voices were voiced against the fact that our alliance partner used the war on terror as a sham hideout to crack critical voices at home. Even today, these voices are absent.

Several of those who received the death sentence were under 18 years when they committed their crime.

PR, war and oil. The Saudi royal family is a diligent customer of Western PR companies, and Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman used Western advisers in McKinsey when he designed the country's vision for the future, 'Vision 2030'. Western expertise, for its part, is helping the Saudi royal house transform Saudi Arabia from an oil-rich low-oil state into an investor state that lives on the benefits of oil riches invested in stocks around the world. The goal is to build up an oil fund that is more than twice as large as the Norwegian one and thus be in possession of three percent of the globe's values.

Wrapped in good public relations, the Crown Prince's reformers are received with great enthusiasm in Western capitals. The US president doubts that he hopes the Saudis select the New York Stock Exchange when they start selling shares in the world's largest oil company, Saudi ARAMCO, in the future to fund the huge investment fund. Saudi Arabia's economic reforms will save the oil state from going bankrupt and securing the monopoly power in the hands of the Saud family. As a result, the most extreme and intolerant Wahhabism should be softened because it stands in the way of modernization. Women should be allowed to drive to participate in the labor market. But the Saudi people should not have influence, either over the present or the future of their own country. In other words, political reform and co-determination are not on the agenda. There is neither a constitution, a parliament, political parties, a civil society, freedom of speech, freedom of religion or freedom of assembly.

Statement behind lock and turn. The Crown Prince has gathered all the power in his hands, led the catastrophic war in Yemen and carried out some of the biggest arrest waves in the country's history. In 2017 he is nominated for this year's name in the magazine TIME. The PR campaign is effective.

Today, the brave defense lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair has been joined behind the walls by anyone whom the royal family finds it too good to label 'terrorist'. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman silences the Saudi voices that can help reduce contradictions and ensure a more peaceful development of the country and the region.

In one of his latest statements before his arrest, Walid claimed that the Saudi authorities were fueling extremism and stagnation in order to strengthen their own legitimacy by making themselves indispensable. "They hope the world does not intend to pressure them as long as they give the impression of fighting extremism while feeding the superpowers with oil."

Tin is a senior adviser to Amnesty International and in connection with the chronicle current with the book Saudi Arabia. The sword and the voices. (Vignette photo: Kyrre Lien / Amnesty)

You may also like