It was likely embarrassing for the United Nations Human Rights Council when, in a statement released last week and attributed to a group of human-rights experts, it called on Saudi Arabia to immediately halt executions of children. After all, Saudi Arabia is a member of the board.
But as Saudi King Salman considers giving his blessing to the sentence handed Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the case should also prove an embarrassment to the United States, whose alliances of convenience continue to force American values into compromising positions.
Al-Nimr, arrested in 2012 at age 17, is to be beheaded and his body publicly crucified in a spectacle more commonly found in regions controlled by Islamic State than that of a longtime U.S. ally.
Al-Nimr was convicted of terrorism for his participation in the Arab Spring demonstrations, which included such heinous acts as protesting, chanting anti-government slogans and using social media to express views critical of the kingdom’s absolute monarchy.
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The government also alleges he sheltered wanted men and participated in anti-government riots, but has provided no evidence of those claims beyond a confession of dubious merit. In reality, the death sentence probably has more to do with the fact that al-Nimr is the nephew of an influential cleric critical of the government, who has also been sentenced to death.
Saudi Arabia has executed 134 people this year, most, it is believed, by public beheading, according to the United Nations.
Saudi Arabia’s position as a favored American ally affords the U.S. government the ability to relentlessly pursue the cause of al-Nimr. It should do so until he, and other prisoners held in contravention of American standards of the rule of law, receive a proper trial or are released.
And then, perhaps, we should reconsider our relationships with tyrannical nations.
This was excerpted from The Orange County (Calif.) Register.