Bodies of decapitated convicts displayed in Saudi public square


The bodies of five decapitated Yemenis hang above the main square of Jizan. Photo taken on Tuesday.
Five Yemeni nationals convicted of murder and of belonging to a criminal organisation were decapitated and hung by the shoulders from cranes on Tuesday in the city of Jizan, in southwestern Saudi Arabia. According to our Observer, this macabre scene is intended to terrorize criminals and illegal immigrants.
Three of the men were brothers. The bodies of all five were strung up for a full day on a pole tied between two cranes. Their heads were placed in bags attached to their bodies. They had been decapitated by swords and hung up in the city’s main square, right in front of Jizan University. The Yemeni nationals had been convicted of belonging to a criminal organisation, creating an armed group, and murdering a Saudi national.

Video filmed on May 21.

According to a conservative interpretation of Sharia law, crimes punishable by death in Saudi Arabia including rape, apostasy (changing religion, for example by renouncing Islam), armed robbery, drug trafficking, and witchcraft. Amnesty International claims that at least 47 executions have taken place in Saudi Arabia this year, including 12 in May alone. The organisation indicated that these figures might be lower than in reality, given that secret executions have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
“The authorities are seeking to reassure the population and scare immigrants”
Mohammad Alsaaedi is a Saudi activist. He lives in Qatif.

Murders and robberies occur all over the country, but this kind of morbid display is not something you see everyday. The last such ‘crucifixion’ [Editor’s note: a term used by the local population to refer to the hanging of corpses] took place in Riyadh in mid-2012.
Personally, I think that the authorities did this to try to send a message to illegal immigrants. That would explain why they did this in Jizan, a destination and a transit point for many Yemeni and African immigrants.
Several weeks ago, the authorities announced ago that illegal workers would be given three months to straighten out their legal status. The deadline is in a month and a half. A large majority of illegal workers are Yemeni nationals and I am convinced that the authorities are primarily targeting them with this action.
The government is also seeking to show how tough it is. Many Saudis believe that immigrants from Yemen and Africa are causing an uptick in crime in the region. The authorities are seeking to reassure the population and frighten the immigrants coming to the region in large numbers.

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