The same country that is about to execute a 23-year-old blind man (for peaceful protest, no less) just got President Trump’s blessing, in the form of a $350 billion weapon deal.
Trump made the deal just last week after his first stop on his inaugural international trip as President, in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government is set to execute Munir Al Adam, who is both deaf and blind, in response to a political protest in which he took part, back in 2012. Al Adam, now 23, was only 18 at the time – and was peacefully protesting.
The decision comes from the infamous Specialized Criminal Court, which has a long history of being used to suppress and silence Saudi political dissidents.
Noted a spokesperson for human rights advocacy group Reprieve, Al Adam was officially charged with violent acts at a protest. In response, he was tortured by police, the disabilities listed on his medical records were ignored, and “no evidence was produced at his trial other than the signed confession—made under duress.”
“Munir’s case is utterly shocking,” Reprieve Director Maya Foa said. “The White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession.’”
As a result of Saudi Arabia’s strict laws, Al Adam was given only one opportunity to appeal before King Salman signed off on his execution.
In a statement, Reprieve noted that Al Adam “was forced to write his own defense after he was prevented from speaking to a lawyer,” and that while one of the charges he faced was using his mobile phone to organize protests, Al Adam told the court he “comes from a poor family and had never even owned a mobile phone.”
And Al Adam is hardly alone in facing execution as the state’s response to his peaceful protest. Three teens—Ali Al Nimr, Dawood Al Marhoon and Abdullah Al Zaher—were also sentenced to death for charges related to protesting the government.
This comes as Trump as signed the “single largest arms deal in U.S. history,” worth an estimated $350 billion over the next ten years, with Saudi Arabia, even as the country is well known for extensive violations of human rights, extreme tactics in suppressing political opposition, as well as harboring terrorists.
This is a direct reversal from Trump’s campaign rhetoric, where he promised to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the nation’s involvement in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
“Who blew up the World Trade Center?” Trump questioned during an interview with Fox and Friends during the campaign. “It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi—take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”
In addition to ignoring that promise, Trump’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia also serves as a reminder that he appears to have no problems with the blatantly obvious record of human rights violations that has made Saudi Arabia the subject of international scrutiny.
Thanks to The Free Thought Project for the heads-up!