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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Mobilisation pour sauver Ali al-Nimr

by Humanite.fr

Action to save Ali al-Nimr

Condemned to death in Saudi Arabia for having demanded equal rights

Translated Thursday 1 October 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Ali al-Nimr, a young Shiite, was condemned to be beheaded for participating in an equal rights demonstration for Shiites and Sunnis, in 2011, when he was still a minor. The sad irony is, this scandal breaks just as Saudi Arabia is about to assume the presidency of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights.

Ali al-Nimr was condemned for sedition, for disobeying the sovereign and for carrying a weapon. His father admits his son, when a 17-year-old student, did participate in Shiite gatherings to call for equal rights, while affirming that he is innocent of several other charges for which he was condemned, such as attacking the police and throwing Molotov cocktails. These demonstrations were stirred by the Arab Spring.

The young man was apparently tortured and forced to confess, without having proper access to legal representation, both before and during his trial; this itself did not conform to international standards according to UN experts. Even so, his appeal was treated “with a complete disregard for international standards”. “Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offence, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations”, stated the UN, demanding the courts immediately quash his conviction. The sad irony is, this scandal breaks just as Saudi Arabia is about to assume the presidency of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights.

"Strong intervention"

"I call for Saudi Arabia to renounce the execution of young Ali Mohammed al Nimr", declared François Hollande during a European Council on Refugees and Exiles press conference in Brussels. “France is opposed to the death penalty. We demand the abolition of the death penalty worldwide and have always maintained, particularly in Saudi Arabia, that our position is unchanging, without exception.” This is not enough for the French Communist Party (PCF). “Is there not reason to reconsider bilateral relations between France, where the president claims to defend human rights, and this country, where, for political motives, one is at best condemned to a few lashes of the whip, or at worst, is put to death." The PCF asks that the president, and the minister of foreign affairs, act firmly to save the life of Ali al-Nimr. The president should express opposition to the Saudi presidency of the Commission on Human Rights, a position that Saudi Arabia is not fit to hold.”

The Left Party also demanded of him, in a communiqué, a “strong intervention” in the matter, by France. This country should demand “at the UN, for that country to no longer be able to preside over the Commission on Human Rights”.

Since the start of the year, 133 people have been executed in the ultraconservative kingdom, as opposed to 87 during the whole of 2014. "Saudi Arabia has been on an execution spree in 2015, but beheading a child offender whose trial was unfair would be an appalling new low", deemed Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.

Action also taking place on social networks, a Facebook page of support has been created and also a hashtag on Twitter #FreeNimr.

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