Israa al-Ghomgham

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Israa al-Ghomgham
Native name
إسراء الغمغام[1]
Born1988 or 1989 (age 29–30)[2]
Known forparticipating in protests and documenting the 2017–18 Qatif unrest in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia;[3][4] sentenced to death in August 2018[2]
Spouse(s)Moussa al-Hashem[2]

Israa al-Ghomgham[2][3] (إسراء الغمغام;[1] also: Israa al-Ghamgam[5]) is a Saudi Arabian human rights advocate. She is especially known for her documentation of the 2017–18 Qatif unrest.

As of September 2018, she could become the first female human rights defender to be executed, possibly by beheading, in Saudi Arabia[6][7][8] following a final hearing to be held on 28 October 2018.[2] On 6 August 2018, the Saudi Arabian prosecutor involved in al-Ghomgham's case recommended that she and her husband be sentenced to death.[2] Saudi activists say that al-Ghomgham is the first woman to face capital punishment for human rights campaigning in Saudi Arabia.[2][9]

Activism[edit]

Al-Ghomgham is well-known[4] for her documentation of Eastern Province protests, which started in 2011–2012 during the Arab Spring[10][11][12] and continued in 2017–18.[13]

Arrest[edit]

Al-Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem were arrested in their home around 6[3]–8[5] December 2015, and held since then in the Dammam al-Mabahith prison.[14]

The charges against the couple relate to the 2017–18 unrest in Qatif in the Eastern Province.[2][6] According to Human Rights Watch the charges include participating in protests, inciting protests, chanting slogans against the regime, attempting to inflame public opinion, filming protests, publishing on social media, using the photo of another woman on her Facebook page, and providing moral support to rioters.[14][15] Human Rights Watch described the charges as "not resembl[ing] recognizable crimes".[3][9]

On 6 August 2018, al-Ghomgham appeared before the Specialized Criminal Court and the prosecutor recommended a death sentence, following the Islamic law principle of ta'zir which allows a judge to determine both the sentence for a crime and what constitutes a crime.[2][15] Al-Ghomgham had no access to a lawyer for the first 32 months of her detention.[6] The final court hearing, at which the death penalty should be confirmed or overturned, is scheduled for 28 October 2018.[3] If confirmed, the death penalty would then have to be confirmed or rejected by King Salman. Beheading would be carried out after Salman's confirmation of the sentence.[2]

Reactions[edit]

Shia Rights Watch sought international support to stop the death sentence, arguing that it would set a precedent for executing other Saudi women campaigning for the rights of religious minorities.[5] Sarah Whitson of Human Rights Watch stated that "seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behavior, is monstrous" and in contradiction with the Saudi government's claim of reform.[3] Ali Adubisi of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights described the sentence as "a dangerous precedent" for the execution of other non-violent political activists.[2] Samah Hadid, Middle East director of campaigns for Amnesty International, agreed that the sentence set a dangerous precedent which "would send a horrifying message that other activists could be targeted in the same way for their peaceful protest and human rights activism".[15]

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada stated in relation to al-Ghomgham's situation that "Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression around the world", without calling for al-Ghomgham's "immediate release". A call by Canada earlier in August 2018 for the "immediate release" of women activists was stated by the Saudi government to be a factor in a diplomatic and trading crisis between the two countries.[16]

A video of the execution of Laila Basim from 2015, purporting to be of al-Ghomgham's execution,[17] circulated on social media in August 2018.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "السعودية: النيابة العامة تطلب الإعدام للناشطة إسراء الغمغام" (in Arabic). Human Rights Watch. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Brennan, David (21 August 2018). "Who Is Israa al-Ghomgham? Female Saudi Activist May Be Beheaded After Death Sentence". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Saudi Prosecution Seeks Death Penalty for Female Activist". Human Rights Watch. 21 August 2018. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kalin, Stephen (22 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia Seeks Its First Death Penalty Against Female Human Rights Activist". Thomson Reuters/Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "First Woman to be sentenced to Death Penalty in S.A". Shia Rights Watch. August 2018. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Asem, Sondos (20 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia sentences female human rights defender to death". Middle East Eye. Archived from the original on 2018-10-28. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  7. ^ Vaidyanathan, Vaishnavi (21 August 2018). "First Woman's Execution In Saudi Arabia May Be For Supporting Anti-Government Protests". International Business Times.
  8. ^ Al Asaad, Sondoss (20 August 2018). "Death Penalty Haunts Saudi Women Rights Activist: Esraa al-Ghamgam". US Journal.
  9. ^ a b Graham-Harrison, Emma (22 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty against female human rights activist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 September 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  10. ^ Banerjee, Neela (11 March 2011). "Saudi Arabia 'day of rage' protest fizzles". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Saudis stage protest in Qatif". Press TV. 9 May 2011. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  12. ^ "Saudi forces clash with protesters in Qatif". Al Jazeera. 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  13. ^ von Hein, Matthias (10 August 2017). "Is Saudi Arabia waging war on its Shiite minority?". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia 'seeks death penalty for woman activist'". BBC. 22 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Saudi prosecutors call for beheading of female human rights activist". NewsComAu. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  16. ^ Chase, Steven; Yousif, Nadine (21 August 2018). "Canada criticizes Saudi Arabia over another jailed female activist". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  17. ^ Nachawati, Leila (21 August 2018). "No, la activista Esra al-Ghamgham no ha sido ejecutada en Arabia Saudí". eldiario.es.
  18. ^ Abelow, Avi (20 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia Human Rights Activist Punished with Death Penalty". Israel Unwired.