Although it generated some heated discussion during the election campaign, don't expect the $15 billion armoured vehicle deal the Harper government signed with human-rights-hater Saudi Arabia to be rescinded now that a new government is about to be sworn in. Because the country is seen as a stabilizing presence in the Middle East and a source of jobs in Canada, pragmatism will undoubtedly trump principle in a deal that no party exactly denounced as our votes were being courted.
Yet we should all be as familiar as possible with the devil Canada is trafficking with.
Readers may recall the case of Raif Badawi, the 31-year-old Saudi blogger who ran afoul of authorities for his criticisms of the country's religious establishment:
Badawi was sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014, he was resentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.While it may provide him with cold comfort, his efforts yielded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought yesterday. It is unlikely that he will be released to receive the award, and, indeed, should the lashings be carried out in full, he will die.
However, Mr. Badawi's plight may seem mild compared to what is facing young Ali al-Nimr, also a Saudi citizen who
was arrested at age 17 for participating in anti-government protests. The government has said he attacked police officers and rioted, but the only known evidence is a confession apparently extracted under torture that left him a bloody mess.Now he is facing beheading and crucifixion:
His appeals following his court sentence for this grisly execution have been exhausted, so guards may lead Nimr to a public square and hack off his head with a sword as onlookers jeer. Then, following Saudi protocol for crucifixion, they would hang his body as a warning to others.International outrage at his sentence appears to have had no impact on the Saudi government. Last month, a
group of United Nations human rights experts ... urged the Government of Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted for a crime reportedly committed as a child. He may be executed at any time.The lash and decapitation seem to be expressions of a worldview that can only be described as medieval and barbaric. In the country considered to be our ally, there are at least 16 'crimes' that warrant the death penalty, including murder, adultery, gay consensual sex, apostasy, consumption of intoxicants and sorcery and witchcraft.
“Saudi Arabia may so far this year have executed at least 134 people, which already represents 44 more than the total for the whole of last year,” they noted. “Such a surge in executions in the country makes Saudi Arabia a sad exception in a world where States are increasingly moving away from the death penalty.”
To embrace and sell armaments to such a benighted nation says, perhaps, more than we would like to consider about our own country and principles, doesn't it?
UPDATE: In his response to this post, The Mound of Sound has pointed out some things that go much deeper than mere beheadings and crucifixions in Saudi Arabia. Take a look at what he has to say here and here. The implications are profoundly disturbing.