Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rights groups moves high court on beheading 8 Bangladeshi

SALEEM SAMAD

A human rights organization has moved the Bangladesh high court on Tuesday to probe into government’s role in beheading of eight Bangladeshi immigrants in Saudi Arabia.

Manzill Murshid, the lawyer for Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh told journalists that the judges will hear the petition on Wednesday.

On Friday, eight Bangladeshis were beheaded in public at Justice Square in Saudi capital Riyadh after they confessed to guilt of robbing a warehouse and killing the security guard, Egyptian national Hussein Saeed Mohammed Abdulkhaleq, in April 2007.

The Saudi authorities turned down clemency appeal from Bangladesh amid outcry from rights groups, including Amnesty International.

The United Nations human rights office called on the country to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

On Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is deeply distressed by the recent execution of at least 58 people in Saudi Arabia this year, 20 were migrant workers.

Dr Abdullah Al Bussairy, Saudi ambassador in Bangladesh has defended the execution of eight Bangladeshi workers on charges of killing an Egyptian security guard and robbery.

The diplomat said the convicts were given legal assistance and enough time to argue their case during the four-year trial, which contradicts Amnesty International’s claim that the trial was not free and fair.

The ambassador said under Sharia law practiced in Saudi Arabia only the victim's family can forgive the accused in exchange for blood money, but the Egyptian victim's family declined to accept the blood money despite repeated efforts by Bangladesh embassy.

“The Saudi government acts to implement the law of Allah. We had nothing to do but to uphold the sanctions of Allah. The Sharia law has been implemented through the execution," the ambassador said.

The Egyptian embassy in Riyadh also joined hands with Bangladesh embassy to satisfy the family of the Egyptian security guard Abdulkhaleq, but the family rejected any negotiation and blood money, and rather wanted "Kisash", which means blood for blood.

Asked about the criticism of the execution by international rights organizations, Bussairy said the law of Allah gets precedence over what the rights groups interpret Saudi divine laws.

Journalists asked whether the execution would strain bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, he said Bangladesh-Saudi relations are deep rooted and such an incident would no way affect the ties.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com