Prominent Saudi Arabian Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has been sentenced to death on vague charges and after a deeply flawed trial. His conviction must be quashed and he should be released immediately in relation to these charges.
View the full Urgent Action, including case information, addresses and sample messages, here.
Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, the capital, on 15 October for a list of offences including “disobeying and breaking allegiance to the ruler”, “calling to overthrow the regime”, “calling for demonstrations”, “inciting sectarian strife”, “questioning the integrity of the judiciary”, “meeting with and supporting wanted suspects”, and “interfering in a neighboring state’s affairs” (in reference to Bahrain).
Evidence for the charges that Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was convicted of came from religious sermons and interviews attributed to the cleric. Amnesty International’s review of these texts confirms that he was exercising his right to free expression and was not inciting violence. A number of charges, including disobeying the ruler, should not be offences at all as they criminalize the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and other human rights. Other charges are vague and have been abused here to punish the exercise of human rights.
The trial that commenced at the Specialized Criminal Court on 25 March 2013 was also deeply flawed. The cleric was denied the most basic needs to prepare for his defense, including regular access to his lawyer and a pen and some paper to respond to the charges. Key eyewitnesses were allowed not to testify in court in violation of Saudi Arabian laws, and his lawyer was not informed of the dates of a number of court hearings.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who is the Imam of al-Awamiyya mosque in al-Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia, was arrested without an arrest warrant on 8 July 2012 when security officers forced his car to stop and shot him when he refused to accompany them. He spent most of his detention in solitary confinement in military hospitals and in al-Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh. He has been paralyzed in one leg because of the incident leading to his arrest and needs urgent medical attention to remove a second bullet in his back.
Saudi Arabians in the Kingdom’s predominantly Shi’a Eastern Province have long claimed discrimination and harassment against them by the authorities. Inspired in part by protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa region in 2011, they organized demonstrations to protest at the harassment, arrest, and imprisonment of members of the Shi’a community for, among other things, celebrating Shi’a religious festivals, breaching restrictions on building Shi’a mosques and religious schools, and expressing support to protestors in Bahrain.
View the full Urgent Action here.
Name: Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr (m)
Issues: Death penalty, Freedom of expression, Unfair trial
UA: 271/14 Issue Date: 31 October 2014
Country: Saudi Arabia
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HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please write immediately in English, Arabic or your own language:
* Calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to quash the conviction and death sentence of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and release him immediately in relation to these charges;
* Urging them to provide him with adequate medical treatment;
* Urging them to establish immediately an official moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 12 DECEMBER 2014 TO:
King and Prime Minister
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) 011 966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Majesty
And copies to:
President, Human Rights Commission
Bandar Mohammed ‘Abdullah al-Aiban
Human Rights Commission
PO Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahad Road
Building No.373, Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: 011 966 11 461 2061
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa
Ministry of Justice
University Street Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: 011 966 11 401 1741
011 966 11 402 0311
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to: Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 5983 I Phone: 1 202 342 3800 I Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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