5 more Bangladeshis on Saudi death row
Five more Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia may meet a fate similar to that of their eight compatriots, who were beheaded in public in Riyadh on Friday for murdering an Egyptian security guard.
“A Sharia court has sentenced five Bangladeshis in Riyadh to death in three cases for murdering their three compatriots,” Haroon-or-Rashid, Bangladesh's labour counsellor in Riyadh, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The identities of the five Bangladeshis or their victims could not be known. Of the convicts, four are in prison and one is on the run.
Rashid said there was still scope for the accused to file an appeal or reach a settlement with the complainants.
“The four convicts, who have been in jail for four years, could be executed unless the cases are settled amicably,” said the diplomat.
“We have been trying to reach a settlement, but have failed thus far.”
Meanwhile, human rights activists have condemned the execution of the eight Bangladeshis in public, terming it barbaric and unacceptable.
The migrant workers were beheaded in the Saudi capital for their involvement in a robbery and murder of an Egyptian security guard in 2007.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman said the beheadings of the Bangladeshis in public had traumatised people at large. The executions went against the spirit of international human rights laws which say that no penalty should violate human dignity, he said.
“It can take a lifetime for some to recover from a trauma,” Mizanur Rahman said.
Sultana Kamal, executive director of 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.”
Sultana Kamal said such executions went against the very ethics of human rights.
She wondered why the issue had not been communicated to the UN or raised with other human rights bodies.
In his reaction, Shahdeen Malik, an eminent jurist, said, “Beheading in public is a medieval punishment and contrary to all norms of civilized society. It goes against the prohibition on cruel and inhuman punishment as enshrined in our constitution and in international legal instruments.”
He said Bangladesh had sufficient leverage with Saudi Arabia and should have done more to save the convicts.
Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the human rights body Odhikar, said, “We think our government and the embassy have failed to protect the Bangladeshis. It should not have happened.”
He said the government should have done more to persuade Saudi Arabia to hand over the convicts to Bangladesh and allowed them to have the sentences carried out on their home soil.
Their execution in Saudi Arabia had exposed the weakness of Bangladesh's foreign policy, he noted.
The news of the execution of the eight Bangladeshis came as a deep shock to their family members.
Fifty-five-year-old Sufia Begum, mother of Matiar Rahman, one of the eight executed on Friday, has not been able to come to terms with the fact that she will never see her son again.
“Oh, my son, come back to me,” she wept as she held a picture of her son at her house in Naranpur village in Faridpur.
“We want to see the face of our son,” said Abdul Hye, father of Suman Mia, who was also beheaded on Friday, at his home in Kishoreganj.
Bangladesh embassy officials in Riyadh said all eight Bangladeshis executed in the kingdom were buried at the Riyadh Central Graveyard on Saturday.