At least 33 of the 37 Saudis executed by the kingdom in a single day belonged to the Sunni-dominated country’s Shia minority, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
The men were executed on Tuesday after being convicted of terrorism, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
“Thirty-three we know for sure are Shias,” HRW researcher Adam Coogle told AFP.
The interior ministry said some of those executed were accused of “inciting sectarian strife”, a charge often used in Saudi Arabia against Shia activists.
Rights group Amnesty International also said most of those executed were Shia men.
They were “convicted after sham trials that violated international fair trial standards (and) which relied on confessions extracted through torture”, it said in a statement.
The executions were “yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent” from within the Shia minority, said Amnesty’s Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf.
The rights watchdog said 11 of those executed were convicted of spying for Iran, while at least 14 others were sentenced in connection with anti-government protests in the Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012.
The UN rights chief also condemned the mass executions carried out by Saudi Arabia.