Ellison call for U.S. to protect protestors in Saudi Arabia

Dear Secretary Kerry:

I write to request your direct intervention to ensure the protection of three juveniles

sentenced to death for protesting in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Mr. Mi al-Nimr, Mr. Dawood al-Marhoon, and Mr. Abdullah al-Zaher. The United States must protest and oppose the execution of minors arrested after pro-democracy protests and convicted by a court with questionable legal standards.

On January 2, 2016, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia carried out 47 beheadings, including that of prominent Shi’ite cleric Sheikh al-Nimr. All of those executed had been tried and convicted in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) for offenses related to ‘terrorism,’ though the evidence against them rarely amounted to more than a confession gained through prolonged torture. These three young men—Mi, Dawood, and Abdullah were arrested for
attending a peaceful political protest while they were children; aged 17, 17, and 15, respectively. They were tortured into signing ‘confessions’ and subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in the SCC, despite the existence of a special juvenile court system under domestic law.

Mi, Dawood, and Abdullah were spared in the January 2 executions, but there have been recent news reports that the Saudi government intends to carry out further executions of
persons convicted in the SCC. Statements from Mi A1-Nimr’s family indicate that they believe him to be among the prisoners mentioned in the news reports.

Many of the individuals sentenced to death alongside Mi, Dawood and Abdullah have already been executed, including a number ofjuveniles aged between 13 and 17 at the time of their arrest. This includes one of the boys’ co-defendants, Mi al-Ribh, who was just 17 at the time of his arrest. His family was only notified of their son’s execution when the Saudi Ministry of the Interior published the mass execution. To date, they have not been informed where their son is buried, nor have they been permitted to retrieve his body.The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has urgently asked the Saudigovernment to explain why these three young men remain on death row.

I urge you to personally intervene to stop any move by the Saudi government to executethese young men, and to request a permanent commute of their death sentences.

Thank you for your commitment and attention to this important human rights matter.

Sincerely,
Keith Ellison
Member of Congress