Human Rights Violations Archive

You'll find articles about this subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Saudi woman executed for ‘witchcraft and sorcery’

A Saudi woman has been executed for practising “witchcraft and sorcery”, the country’s interior ministry says.

According to the BBC

A statement published by the state news agency said Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was beheaded on Monday in the northern province of Jawf.

The ministry gave no further details of the charges which the woman faced.

The woman was the second person to be executed for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia this year. A Sudanese man was executed in September. […]

The London-based newspaper, al-Hayat, quoted a member of the religious police as saying that she was in her 60s and had tricked people into giving her money, claiming that she could cure their illnesses.

Our correspondent said she was arrested in April 2009.

But the human rights group Amnesty International, which has campaigned for Saudis previously sentenced to death on sorcery charges, said it had never heard of her case until now, he adds.

AFP says

Amnesty International said beheading took to 73 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year.

The London-based human rights watchdog condemned Monday’s execution as “truly appalling,” and called on the conservative kingdom to urgently halt the practice.

“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia”, said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s interim director of the Middle East and North Africa.

“To use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” he added in a statement, which stressed the “urgent need” to stop executions.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

Luther described as “deeply disturbing” the huge rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia.

Many of those executed have had no defence lawyer and are not informed about the legal proceedings against them, according to Amnesty.

“While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion,” Luther said.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘justice system’ is based on Sharia — Islamic Law.

All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails. In countries like Saudi Arabia, extremist interpretations of Sharia are often used to justify human rights abuses.

China Court Upholds 15 Year Imprisonment For Pastor Yimiti

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– An ethnic minority house church leader remained detained in China’s troubled northwestern Xinjiang region Sunday, March 6, after a court rejected an appeal to review his 15 years prison sentence on charges of revealing state secrets to overseas groups.

The Higher People’s Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region said there was “no basis” to review the long prison sentence given to 38-year-old Uyghur Pastor Alimujiang Yimiti, who converted from Islam to Christianity.

A notice was sent to Yimiti in mid-February, informing him of the result of the appeal, Christians said.

An earlier appeal in March 2010 had also failed.

United Nations officials and local Christians have linked the sentence to Yimiti’s Christian conversion, his leadership of a house church with his wife Gulinuer and two sons, and apparent involvement in sharing reports of religious persecution.

PROJECT MANAGER

To support his family, the pastor also worked as a project manager for Jirehouse, a British company that rights activists said was targeted in a series of closures of foreign companies belonging to Christians in Xinjiang in 2007.

In a translated verdict, seen by BosNewsLife, the Court rejected Yimiti’s arguments that his alleged “discussion with a foreigner regarding the content of a Religious Affairs Bureau’s investigation and the situation of those investigated does not constitute a state secret.”

The Court accussed Yimiti of sharing state secrets to foreign nationals on two occassions in 2007. “The facts of your crime are clear, the evidence complete,” the court said according to the document. “The court has hereby ruled: the submitted petition to appeal your case has no basis.”

Alimujiang Yimiti was formally detained and charged on January 11, 2008 by national security police in the city of Kashgar before being held at the Kashgar Detention Center for more than a year without a verdict, trial observers said.

SEPERATISM CHARGES

The Chinese government initially accused him of seperatism and illegal religious infiltration, but these charges were later changed, leading to the conviction on the state secrets charges in 2009. His supporters maintain that Yimiti is innocent as he would not have had access to state secrets as an agricultural worker.

Additionally, a United Nations Working Group defined the detention in 2009 as “arbitrary,” and said the pastor was detained “solely on account of his faith”. His case has drawn widespread international attention and is viewed by rights groups as one of the harshest sentences given to a Christian in China for over a decade.

“The 15-year sentence in Mr. Yimiti’s case represents a gross violation of justice,” said Stuart Windsor, National Director of Britain-based advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). “The failure of the appeal represents the difficulty facing the system of the rule of law in China, where there is no independent judiciary and verdicts can be politically motivated.”

CHINA GOVERNMENT

Windsor said CSW has urged the Chinese government “to respect the UN Working Group’s ruling that Alimujiang Yimiti is being detained for his faith and release him immediately.”

Analysts say that Uyghurs, a distinct and mostly Muslim ethnic group indigenous to Xinjiang, have long complained of religious, political, and cultural oppression under Chinese rule, and tensions have simmered there for years.

Xinjiang has been plagued in recent years by bombings, attacks, and riots that Chinese authorities blame on Uyghur separatists.

Several dozen death sentences have been handed down in connection with July 5, 2009, clashes in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, which followed protests over attacks by ethnic majority Han Chinese on Uyghur workers in southern China’s Guangzhou province.

Nearly 200 people were killed in the ensuing violence according to the government’s tally, Radio Free Asia reported.

– China Court Upholds 15 Year Imprisonment For Pastor Yimiti, BosNewsLife, March 6, 2011 — © BosNewsLife. Published in Religion News Blog by permission.