By Tyler Bauer
I’ve written before about the terrible human rights abuses committed by one of our closest allies, Saudi Arabia. Finally, a government agency called out Saudi Arabia for its past. Earlier this week, Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted its disapproval of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. (Interestingly, Canada wasn’t so disapproving when it sold Saudi Arabia billions of dollars of arms earlier this year.) Saudi Arabia immediately responded by kicking Canada’s ambassador out of the kingdom and freezing all new trade and investments with Canada.
A Few Days Later…
On Wednesday, August 8th, Saudi Arabia executed a prisoner. (For more on the death penalty click here.) The issue with the execution of this prisoner isn’t simply that he was executed – it’s the manner in which he was executed.
Elias Abdulkalaam Jamaleddeen, a Burmese man, was convicted of killing a woman and committing a number of other heinous crimes. Jamaleddeen entered a Burmese woman’s home, fired a gun, and stabbed her to death. According to Saudi state media, Jamaleddeen’s conviction was upheld and King Salman – the ruler of Saudi Arabia – personally endorsed Jamaleddeen’s execution. So, on Wednesday, Saudi Arabian authorities crucified and beheaded Jamaleddeen in the holy city of Mecca.
Even if you support the use of the death penalty, I think we can all agree that a more humane and controlled form of execution is preferable to crucifixion and beheading in a public setting. Sadly, crucifixions and beheadings are not uncommon in Saudi Arabia, and harmless things like homosexuality and attending anti-government rallies have been grounds for such forms of execution before.
The fact that Saudi Arabia was willing to crucify and behead a criminal during its spat with Canada is surprising. By doing this, Saudi Arabia shows that they have no desire to change their ways and respect human rights. Instead, Saudi Arabia seems determined to continue committing human rights abuses.
The Next Day...
On August 9th, Saudi Arabia bombed a school bus and killed dozens of people, including nearly thirty children. This air attack is the latest in a number of attacks contained in the Yemeni civil war, in which Saudi Arabia has intervened. (I’ve written before about American support of Saudi Arabia, but in that article I failed to specifically mention that the United States is supporting Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war. We are in no small part responsible for the atrocities carried out by the Saudis in Yemen.)
The school bus was of no military strategic value. It was travelling near a market close to the Saudi-Yemeni border. Although this claim has yet to be confirmed, the children on the bus were said to have been on their way to summer school, where they were going to learn about the Holy Quran.
Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners did not deny responsibility for bombing the school bus. According to Saudi military officials, the Saudis intended to strike “missile launchers” in the area (despite there being no military installations nearby). According to Saudi-UAE coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki, these air strikes “conformed to international and humanitarian laws.” This is blatantly false, as the casualties from the air strike on the school bus, among others, were civilian casualties.