TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The Arabic-language Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz, citing a statement issued by the ministry, the death penalty was implemented Tuesday “on a number of culprits for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife.”
The statement added that the executions took place in the capital Riyadh, the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the central province of Qassim, oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province and the kingdom’s southern province of Asir. The convicts were all Saudi nationals.
Meanwhile, the Arabic-language Ahrar television network, in a post published on its official Twitter page, reported that imprisoned Shia activists were among those executed by Saudi authorities.
Earlier this month, Amnesty International warned that Saudi Arabia is making use of the death penalty to crush opposition figures.
The London-based rights group said Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor was seeking the death penalty for more people, noting that prominent preacher Sheikh Salman al-Awdah was one of those targeted for execution.
The Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, also announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Awdah, along with two other clerics, identified as Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari, had been in prison for 19 months with no legal reasons.
The activists were detained in a sweeping crackdown weeks before Saudi Arabia overturned the world's only ban on female motorists on June 24, 2018. The women had staunchly advocated for the right to drive.
Over the past years, Riyadh has redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
Tuesday’s mass execution was Saudi Arabia's largest in the past three years. In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime, along with 46 other men on terrorism charges. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Saudi officials have also intensified crackdown in the country's Shia-populated Eastern Province.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.
Source: Press TV