When injustice begins to go unchallenged, it shapes into a norm, and the state starts using it unrestrained to keep in check the voices of dissent. Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and his heir (Deputy Prime Minister) Mohammed bin Salman is reaching a crescendo in proving, that for the country, ‘human rights’ is just a gimmick.
Saudi Arabia adheres to the strict Islamic law of Sharia and follows the Hanbali Islamic code of conduct for its people. Saudi bars its people from exercising the right to assemble and protest, make a quorum and question the government, and participate in politics. It can incarcerate anyone on basis of being involved in activities against state and brand anyone questioning state as indulged in acts to overthrow the state.
It has been reprimanded by many human rights organizations for awarding punishments like amputations and flogging to deviants. The Gender Apartheid disallows women from being involved in workforce and is advised to stay at home and make domestic ends meet.
Saudi Arabia has an even stricter law to punish sexual crimes. It requires women to prove the rape, and bring physical witnesses to the crime, upon failing which victim herself will be tried for adultery.
It has hired world top PR companies to hide the tyranny, extremism and despotism of state through a billion dollars contract.
Ensaf Haider is fighting all odds along with her children, to free her 34-year-old husband from clutches of Saudi Arabia. Raif Badawi was imprisoned by authorities for 7 years (later increased to ten) along with 1000 lashes over 20 weeks. He was found guilty of apostasy and “maligning Islam through electronic portals”, for his satirical blogs against Saudi Regimes and vocalizing about human rights.
Raif Badawi’s wife has taken refuge in Canada along with their children. She participates in human rights forum to vocalize atrocities meted out to his husband and constantly urges the Canadian government to take tough diplomatic measures against Saudi Arabia, since 2014.
The Canadian government, finally paid heed to her queries, recently and called for “immediate release of Badawi”.
Saudi Arabia was rather quick to respond. It accused Canada of interfering in internal matters and labelled Canadian ambassador as persona non grata and put to hold all its trade deals with immediate effect.
What more horrendous was that a Saudi Linked verified account posted a picture with the caption:’As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him’. The background of the image shared showed a plane heading towards CN Tower in Toronto, reminding Canadian authorities of a 9/11 like attack, if it keeps meddling with human rights in Saudi. The post was subsequently deleted after few hours. Maybe, it was an attempt to remind the world that 15 of assailants involved in 9/11 attacks were Saudi citizens.
After Raif Badawi, and dozens of other human right activists, Saudi Arabia is now planning to publicly execute a female human rights activist in very similar charges, as reported by Saudi Human Right group ALQST.
Saudi Arabia is monitoring al-Qatif region of the eastern province, after heavy protests it witnessed during Arab Spring. It has been tough on Shia population throughout the country for being involved in resurging Arab Spring and being hand in glove with its bitter rival Iranian regime.
Israa al-Ghomgham was arrested and tried for very similar grounds. Saudi has executed women in past too, but this time Ghomgham seems to be the first activist tried under terrorism charges.
Crown prince Salman has in past been praised for advocating dozens of reforms for women in the country and received lauds from liberals around the world. But, all these reports of curbing free speech through death, evidence against that image.
As the world watches in horror, UN and other countries who claim to champion the human rights in Palestine and Kashmir are maintaining an eerie silence. UN, which has many Arab countries in its human rights forum, has turned its deaf ears and a blind eye towards these developments. It just shows, the might and privilege Saudi enjoys.
After the Arab Spring, not only did the regimes change, but it also irked and ignited the debate around many topics in Middle-East and Islamic countries that continue to bring voices of dissent to fore.
Even Iran is witnessing similar eruptions of dissent through women activists, discarding hijab and safeguarding free lives for all Iranian women. Even there, many activists have received the same response as Saudi.
To expect from other countries to stand up to the might and heft of Saudi is perhaps futile. Countries like the US is itself involved with Saudi in crushing Iran’s presence in Yemen’s long civil war by launching offensives against Houthis, which according to US and Saudi are Iranian proxies. The US is aiding Saudi though defence technology, since Obama administration times. It has claimed a great number of lives after the commencement of Civil War.
However, one waits for the world to wake up to the gross human rights violations happened right under the world’s nose.