Three young men—arrested as minors and convicted on the basis of coerced confessions—face death by beheading in Saudi Arabia. All were arrested after allegedly participating in demonstrations in 2012 during the Arab Spring. Residents in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province had taken to the streets protesting against pervasive discrimination against the nation’s Shi’a minority as well as the Saudi government’s role in violently crushing neighboring Bahrain’s pro-democracy protests.
Dawoud al-Marhoun and Ali al-Nimr were 17 when arrested, while Abdullah al-Zaher was 15. All three youths said they were severely beaten while in government custody. They were held incommunicado for up to 22 months and denied proper legal representation. Their claims that their confessions were coerced were ignored by the courts.
The charges of which they were convicted include “breaking allegiance with the ruler” and chanting anti-government slogans. In the cases of al-Nimr and al-Zaher, the sentences specify that after their execution their headless corpses should be crucified and publicly displayed. All three young men have been held since 2015 in solitary confinement awaiting execution.
In January 2016, the Saudi government executed 47 people, including Ali al-Nimr’s uncle and three other young men who allegedly participated in demonstrations. One of the young men—Ali Sa’eed al-Ribh—was a minor when the demonstrations occurred. This makes clear that the Saudi government is willing to execute those arrested for offenses allegedly committed as minors, even though the country is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the death penalty under these circumstances.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Contact your Senators; urge them to ask Secretary of State John Kerry to take action so that Abdullah, Ali, and Dawoud are not executed.
- Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
- Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 201510
2) Get updates on the Free Ali al-Nimr Facebook page.
3) Learn more about the cases of Abdullah, Ali, and Dawoud.
- Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia: 3 Alleged Child Offenders Await Execution”
- Medea Benjamin, “President Obama Can Help Save Saudi Youth Facing Beheading”
- Reprieve, Profile of Abdullah al-Zaher
- Reprieve, Profile of Ali al-Nimr
- Reprieve, Profile of Dawoud al-Marhoon
- CODEPINK, Saudi Arabia resources