Iran’s foreign minister has lashed out at the administration of US President Donald Trump for staying tight-lipped on its ally Saudi Arabia’s latest mass execution of its nationals, one of whom was crucified after beheading.
“After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day—even crucifying one two days after Easter,” said Mohammad Javad Zarif in a tweet on Wednesday.
He was referring to Trump’s support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is reported to have ordered the brutal assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
“Membership in the #B_team —Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & ‘Bibi— gives immunity for any crime,” said Zarif in a reference to the highly hawkish politicians, besides bin Salman, in the US, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, namely US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Ale Nahyan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day—even crucifying one two days after Easter. Membership in the #B_team — Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & "Bibi"— gives immunity for any crime.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 23, 2019
Earlier on Tuesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by state-run media that it had put 37 citizens to death for their alleged “adoption of extremist, terrorist ideology and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disturb security, spread chaos and cause sectarian discord.”
The individuals, it added, had been ordered to be executed by the specialized criminal court in Riyadh after being found guilty of attacking security installations, killing security officers and cooperating with enemy organizations.
Reports said that the body of one of the victims, Khaled bin Abdel Karim al-Tuwaijri, was attached to a pole for several hours.
Adam Coogle, who monitors Saudi Arabia for Human Rights Watch, said that at least 33 of those executed were Saudi Shias, noting that some of the victims had been convicted based on confessions taken under torture, the New York Times cited him as saying.
“As a matter of principle, none of these people had lawyers during investigation, so all of these cases are unfair,” he stressed.
The fresh mass execution was the largest in Saudi Arabia since January 2016, when 47 men were executed in a single day, including outspoken Shia Cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.
It brings to around 100 the total number of people executed by the kingdom since the start of the year.
Amnesty International slammed the execution, saying that the victims had been convicted “after sham trials,” which relied on “confessions extracted through torture.”
“Today’s mass execution is a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities callous disregard for human life. It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority,” said Lynn Maalouf, West Asia's Research Director at Amnesty International.
Bin Salman was appointed the first in line to the Saudi throne by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Ale Saud, in June 2017.
Since then, the young prince has been involved in an aggressive push to purge royals and businessmen critical of his policies under the banner of an “anti-corruption campaign.” He has also ordered the rounding up of scores of activists, high-profile clerics and women's rights defenders.
Bin Salman’s international reputation has been badly tarnished by his role in Khashoggi’s murder.