This morning, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared on CNBC to talk about his tript o Saudi Arabia with Donald Trump. Ross raved about Saudi Arabia’s increasing liberalism (false) and then dropped this jaw-dropping statement, “there was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard.” At this point, the CNBC anchor interrupted to say that didn’t mean people in Saudi Arabia didn’t want to protest, the Saudis tightly control their citizens. Ross brushes her off and says “in theory that could be true” and continued raving about the protest-free Saudi Arabia. Watch his statement and then jump below to see how Saudi Arabia polices (by way of beheadings) anyone showing dissent.
What happens to protesters in Saudi Arabia? Here’s an example from November 2016, when the Saudis executed a disabled man for his protesting:
A specialised criminal court in Riyadh, the Arab kingdom’s capital, sentenced Munir al-Adam, to death for “attacks on police” and other offences they said took place during protests in the Shia-dominated east in late 2011.
The 23-year-old is partially blind and was already partially deaf at the time of arrest; he alleges he is now completely deaf in one ear as a result of being severely beaten by police.
His family issued a statement rejecting the verdict and claiming that Mr Adam was tortured into confessing, The Times reported.
The steel cable worker said he had only signed a document admitting the offences after being repeatedly beaten. He said he had been accused of “sending texts” when he was too poor to own a mobile phone.
His beheading was not a rare occurrence. In fact, 47 protesters were executed in one day:
Forty-seven protesters and alleged supporters of al-Qaeda were executed in a single day in January. In July, the number of beheadings in Saudi Arabia reached 108 this year, putting the country, which has a population of nearly 29 million people, on track to exceed its 2015 execution total.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners. Research last year by human rights organisation Reprieve found that, of those identified as facing execution in Saudi Arabia, some 72 per cent were sentenced to death for non-violent alleged crimes, while torture and forced confessions were common.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Yemen, just to the south of Saudi Arabia, protesters were taking to the streets: