10/10/2011, 00.00
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Eight Bangladeshis publicly beheaded in Riyadh, five more at risk

The men were migrant workers. Pleas by human rights activists against the “barbaric”, “appalling” and “medieval” practice fell on deaf ears. The government and embassy of Bangladesh are criticised for the way they dealt with the matter.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Five Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia may meet a fate similar to that of eight compatriots, who were beheaded in public in Riyadh on Friday for murdering an Egyptian security guard in 2007. Four of them are in prison and one is on the run. So far, appeals by human rights activists against the “barbaric”, “appalling” and “medieval” public execution have fallen on deaf ears. The Bangladeshi Embassy in Riyadh said that it is doing all it can to prevent another spate of executions. However, many people are critical of the Bangladeshi government for not doing enough to stop them.

A Saudi court sentenced the eight migrant workers to death by beheading. They were convicted of robbing a warehouse and killing the Egyptian security guard, Hussein Saeed Mohammed Abdulkhaleq, in 2007.

The Saudi authorities, as per the practice, did not inform their embassy in advance. In such cases, the bodies are not repatriated for burial.

In Bangladesh, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman said the public beheadings has traumatised the population. For him, the executions go against the spirit of international human rights laws, which say that no penalty should violate human dignity.

According to Adilur Rahaman Khan, secretary of the human rights group Odhikar (Rights), both the Bangladeshi government and the embassy in Riyadh “have failed to protect the Bangladeshis”, underscoring the weakness of the country’s foreign policy.

Sultana Kamal, executive director of another rights organisation, Ain O Salish Kendra, said, “There are no words to condemn the execution of the eight Bangladeshis. This is barbaric, appalling and a crime against humanity. The right to life has been taken away from the accused.”

Furthermore, she wonders why the United Nations or other human rights bodies were not informed of the matter.

More than 2,000,000 Bangladeshis work in Saudi Arabia. The latest eight executions bring the total number to 58 this year, twice as many as in 2010.
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