TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Israa al-Ghomgham from the Qatif region in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province has been behind bars for 32 months.
She recently appeared in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital, Riyadh. The public prosecutor called for death penalty for six defendants, including Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem, who were arrested in a house raid by Saudi regime forces on December 8, 2015.
"The call of the public prosecution for a death sentence for the detainee is a dangerous indicator that the trial outcome will lead to a death penalty sentence being issued," Sputnik News quoted the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) as saying.
It added that because the “Saudi mechanisms involved in the prosecution process are not independent and serve the needs of King Salman [bin Abdulaziz] directly… Israa is being subjected to an unfair trial, which uses flawed laws and can be regarded as a ‘show trial.’"
Ghomgham appeared on government radars during 2011 protests in Qatif and demanded an end to discrimination against Shia Muslims and the release of political prisoners.
Saudi human rights groups reported that the female activist could not afford a lawyer during her detention. However, a lawyer offered service for free after he saw a petition from her father seeking donations to help cover the 300,000 Saudi riyal ($80,000) cost of providing her with a lawyer.
Many media outlets falsely reported on Sunday that Ghomgham has already been executed on the prosecutor’s orders.
"They shared a video showing an executioner fixing her in a recumbent position on the ground before decapitating her with a sword as security forces stood by,” a source claimed.
However, the video proved to be from an earlier beheading.
As the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its brutal clampdown against pro-democracy campaigners and political dissidents, Saudi regime forces arrested a female Shia activist in late April in Eastern Province.
Human rights activist and lawyer Taha al-Hajji, in a post published on her Twitter page, stated that Saudi troopers arrested 19-year-old Nour Said al-Musallam in Qatif region, located more than 420 kilometers (260 miles) east of Riyadh.
Amid the likelihood of Ghomgham's death penalty, many human rights activists have expressed their outrage.
“Saudi Arabia is calling for the beheading of female human rights defender Israa Al-Ghomgham because she participated in peaceful protests. This is the same barbaric regime which still sits on the UN Women’s Rights Commission,” Sarah Abdallah, an Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator tweeted.
Ali al Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a Washington-based human rights advocacy group, also told Sputnik that Ghomgham "was a person who tweeted and supported the protests. Maybe she protested as well. But the Saudi government is clearly trying to use that to send a message that we will not spare anyone, woman or not."
Saudi Arabia is subjected to criticisms for executions. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi beheaded 48 people in last 4 months with most of them for non-violent drug charges.
Saudi Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution, and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province.
Back in May, Saudi Arabia arrested three more women’s rights activists as the regime intensifies its crackdown weeks before it lifts a driving ban against women.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that the total number of detainees now stands at 10 with the latest arrests.
However, the Lebanon-based [Persian] Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) put the number at 12.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Security forces have increased security measures across the province.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to also target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.
Source: Press TV