Update: A source told CNN that the boy was spared execution and instead sentenced to 12 years in prison.
A teenager who has been imprisoned by the Saudi Arabian government for nearly 5 years is facing execution for taking part in a protest that happened 8 years ago when he was just 10 years old. Murtaja Qureiris was initially arrested when he was 13 years old, 3 years after an Arab Spring related protest that he took part in.
He has spent at least 15 months of his 5 years in prison isolated in solitary confinement.
The Saudi government has charged him with engaging in anti-government protests, possession of a firearm and they also allege that he was affiliated with a terrorist organization. A boy that was only ten years old at the time is accused of being a gun-wielding terrorist, and now they want to torture and kill him, then mutilate his body.
The prosecutor in the case has recommended that after the now 18-year-old young man is killed, his body should be dismembered, or crucified.
A video that was obtained by CNN, shows Qureiris at ten years old, leading a young group of Shia protesters through the street on his bike.
Exclusive: When Murtaja Qureiris was 10, he led protests demanding rights for Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority. Now, at the age of 18, he faces the death penalty. https://t.co/9Bn1FAW5o1 pic.twitter.com/TMvF7WkGwq
— CNN International (@cnni) June 7, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: Saudi teen, Murtaja Qureiris, was arrested at 13 for protest-related offenses. Including walking at his brother's funeral. Today he faces the death penalty. by myself, @muhammadakd @mark_oliver_ Byron Manley and @ghazibalkiz https://t.co/p1Sh6UtYDB pic.twitter.com/RJmxzcTINH
— Tamara Qiblawi (@tamaraqiblawi) June 7, 2019
When Qureiris was arrested, he was the youngest known political prisoner at the time.
CNN reported that the prosecution’s case is built entirely on forced confessions and that Qureiris is now denying the charges that he initially confessed to.
Human rights groups have been pleading with the Saudi government to not execute the young man.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, says that this case shows the ruthlessness of the Saudi government.
“There should be no doubt that the Saudi Arabian authorities are ready to go to any length to crack down on dissent against their own citizens, including by resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest,” Maalouf said.
Saudi Arabia has been notorious for its brutal regime for many years, but its tactics have become even more violent and inhumane since the Arab Spring. The regime has become even more tyrannical in order to assert its dominance and scare its subjects into submission.
The country performed at least 158 executions in 2015, then at least 154 in 2016, and a minimum of 146 executions in 2017. The regime has also continued to shock the world with its mass executions, which include both beheadings and crucifixions.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced executed 37 men, all of whom were accused of being terrorists. However, a vast majority of those executed were members of the country’s Shia minority, who have been protesting for freedom and equal rights, just as young Qureiris was.
If Qureiris is executed as planned, he will become the fourth teenager to be killed by the Saudi government this year.
The Saudi government has essentially been a puppet dictatorship for the US for many years, so despite their terrible human rights record and their history of fostering terrorism, they maintain a good relationship with most western nations. Meanwhile, the US military uses these excuses to invade other regions in the middle east where the leadership is less cooperative with their interests, all the while ignoring that the Saudi government is considerably more brutal than the states that are currently targeted for regime change by the US.