Zarif slams US silence on mass executions in Saudi Arabia

‘Membership of the #B_team – Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & “Bibi” – give immunity for any crime,’ Zarif tweets.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Zarif was set to visit the US to speak at the Asia Society in New York City [File: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

Iran‘s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticised the administration of US President Donald Trump for not condemning a mass execution of prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 of its citizens for what it said were “terrorism”-related crimes, publicly pinning two of the bodies to a pole as a warning to others.

“After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day – even crucifying one two days after Easter,” Zarif said on Twitter, referring to the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents in October.

“Membership of the #B_team – Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & “Bibi” – give immunity for any crime,” Zarif added, referring to the US NSA and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The tweet came before Zarif’s controversial visit to the United States, where he was set to speak at the Asia Society, an NGO, in New York City on Wednesday.

Tehran and Washington have taken in tit-for-tat measures to label each other’s military as “terrorist” recently, following the Trump administration’s decision on Monday to end waivers for country’s importing oil for Iran.


Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said in a statement that the prisoners were found guilty of attacking security installations with explosives, killing a number of security officers, and cooperating with “enemy organisations” against the interests of the country.

However, rights group Amnesty International said most of those executed were Shia men “convicted after sham trials that violated international fair trial standards (and) which relied on confessions extracted through torture”.

The sentences were carried out in Riyadh, the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, central Qassim province, and Eastern Province, home to the country’s Shia minority.

The men were executed “for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilise security”, a statement by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Two of the executed men’s bodies were publicly hung from a pole for several hours in a process that is not frequently used by the kingdom and has sparked controversy for its grisly display.

Between 2015 and 2017, Saudi Arabia has executed about 150 prisoners each year, according to rights groups.

Iran, however, has the highest per capita execution rate, according to rights groups. But Tehran insists that the numbers these groups allege are exaggerated.

Source: Al Jazeera