Sunday, October 09, 2011

Saudi Arabia executes 8 Bangladeshi migrants, despite mercy appeal

Photo/Amnesty International: Executions have resumed in Saudi Arabia at an alarming rate since Ramadan

SALEEM SAMAD

Saudi Arabian authority beheaded by sword 8 Bangladesh born migrants in capital Riyadh on Friday amidst protest by Amnesty International (AI).

The authorities in Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh confirmed their execution. The Labour Counsellor of the mission Harun-or Rashid said that the slain convicts were buried in Saudi Arabia.

Promptly the London based rights group AI condemned the execution in a statement on Friday. Criticizing the process of conviction, the rights body said that it might have been only based on confessions obtained under duress or deception.

Bangladesh officials said the convicts were sentenced to death for armed robbery and alleged murder of an Egyptian man in April 2007.

Riyadh authorities refrained from informing the Bangladesh mission, but the diplomat said the embassy will seek permission whether the dead bodies could be brought home for the mourning relatives and also observe rituals according to Muslim custom.

A letter on behalf of the president of Bangladesh was sent to the King of Saudi Arabia seeking his mercy to the convicts, the diplomat said.

Rashid said that in response to the appeal by the president, the foreign ministry of Saudi Arabia communicated that only the family of the deceased have the right to pardon the convicts according to the Koran.

Scores of Arabs at Justice Square near Al Hakam Palace in Riyadh witnessed the executions of the Bangladesh citizens were Ma'mun Abdul Mannan, Faruq Jamal, Sumon Miah, Mohammed Sumon, Shafiq al-Islam, Mas'ud Shamsul Haque, Abu al-Hussain Ahmed, Mutir al-Rahman, the rights watchdog report said.

Three other Bangladeshis were sentenced to prison terms and flogging indicted in same crime.

Most of the defendants have no defense lawyer, have insufficient fluency of Arabic language to follow proceedings and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them, said AI’s Middle East and North Africa director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

The organization also pointed out that majority of those executed recently in Saudi Arabia is migrant workers from poor and developing countries.

The beheadings bring the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year to at least 58, more than double than the 2010 figures. Twenty of those executed in 2011 were foreign nationals, the AI press statement said.

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