2 January 2016
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, has condemned the mass execution of 47 prisoners by Saudi Arabia, describing it as the act of an “outlaw regime”.
“This is the action of an outlaw regime, one that has demonstrated total disregard for human rights and international norms of the rule of law.
“The death penalty is a wrong, in and of itself, but the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr (1), described by human rights groups (2) as ‘a peaceful reformist that espoused non-violence in his dissent against the government of Saudi Arabia’, is a sign that this a despotic regime with no intention of reform or acceptance of global standards.
“The treatment of the bodies of the victims is just one more sign that this is a regime that feels it can entirely disregard internationally accepted norms and standards – a view that’s been fed by the unconditionally supportive, fawning attitude adopted by both the US and the UK to this repressive regime.
“Britain needs to immediately end its treatment of the Saudi regime as a ‘friend and ally’. That means, as a start, ending the subsidising of arms sales, and, in fact, all arms sales, to the country.
“That would, morally, be the appropriate action, but it would also make obvious security sense. The Saudi regime will fall, just as the regimes of Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi and the Shah of Iran fell, and there is no knowing where those weapons will end up.”
Bennett said the official Foreign Office response to the announcement of the executions could only be described as “grossly inadequate”.
“What is needed is condemnation in the strongest terms, not a bland statement of ‘mature relationships’ and being ‘candid’.”
At the same time as announcing the 47 executions, Saudi Arabia announced the end to what its largely ineffective ceasefire in its assault in Yemen, a conflict that has led to the death of more than 2,500 civilians, most of them as the result of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition force. Human Rights Watch has described these as unlawfully indiscriminate, hitting homes, markets, schools and healthcare facilities.
“Yemen was a state in a desperate humanitarian state even before the Saudi-led attacks began, and the attacks have only amplified that. We must shine a new spotlight on this ‘forgotten war’. The UN Human Rights Council must reinstate plans to hold an inquiry into human rights abuses by all sides and the UN must insist that essential aid funds are released to support the beleaguered civilian population. Peace talks due to restart this month must be given full attention and priority.”
2) In a statement, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy described Nimr as “a peaceful reformist that espoused non-violence in his dissent against the government of Saudi Arabia.”