UK Government Drops Bid to Provide Services to Saudi Prisons. More to Do

Ali al-NimrFrom an email just received from Reprieve and regarding my previous posts:

“The UK government has today announced that it will drop its bid to provide services to the Saudi prison system.

“With two juveniles at imminent risk of execution by the Saudi authorities, this decision could not have come soon enough – thank you for being part of our campaign to make it happen.

“Over 7,000 of us emailed Justice Minister Michael Gove to let him know that the UK government cannot be complicit in the same system that is threatening to execute juveniles for the ‘crime’ of protesting.

“Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud al-Marhoon were both 17 when they were arrested and tortured into ‘confessions’ in the wake of political protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. They were both sentenced to death. Executions are shrouded in secrecy in Saudi Arabia, and it is possible that both juveniles could now be executed at any time, without prior notification to their families. Both face execution by beheading – Ali was sentenced to ‘crucifixion’, which involves public display of his body after he is beheaded.

“Cancelling the bid has sent a clear message that the UK does not support Saudi Arabia’s gross violations of human rights – a message that comes at a crucial time, with fears that Ali and Dawoud could be executed at any moment as both are moved into solitary confinement.”

They took their time cancelling the bid, but it shows what a few appeals can do. Imagine if ten million of us snowploughed politicians, government departments, embassies, etc. when gross injustices are evident.

Well, there are young men in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who still need us to intervene on their behalf. Do not be afraid to contact people! I have been calling the Saudi Embassy in London and the UK Embassy in Riyadh together with my MP and emailing our Ministry of Justice (as they wouldn’t allow me to speak to anyone!). They might not call you back or email back, but they get your message.

David Cameron has even joined Jeremy Corbyn in asking for Ali al-Nimr to be spared the death sentence. There is still silence from the USA (those people spreading ‘democracy’ around the globe!). I called their London embassy yesterday. The women I spoke to hadn’t heard of this situation and would not put me through to the Ambassador, saying that I would have to write to Grosvenor Square instead.

I emphasised the urgency of the situation and asked her to pass my details on to the Ambassador anyway. It is sometimes interesting to note their reactions when their humanity is pitted against their duty to comply with the ‘system’ when 21 year-old men are due for beheading at any moment.

Their Edinburgh consulate‘s automated telephone system was a nuisance and I didn’t get to speak to anyone, so emailed them.

I will be keeping the pressure up on them too. If they want to be the world’s police force, they had better be seen to justify it. Again, for a change. But when people do not hold them to account they will do nothing or act contrary to our interests.

The UK Government has done the right thing for a change. Do not expect them to do it again without even more pressure. It is your country too. Take control! Have fun with it (while being responsible, naturally).

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