A Catholic bishop and prominent rights activist yesterday slammed Saudi Arabia for executing eight Bangladeshi workers.
They were found guilty of killing an Egyptian security guard and committing robbery four years ago.
Turning down the Bangladesh government’s repeated appeals for clemency and despite an outcry from national and international rights groups, the Saudi authorities last Friday publicly beheaded the eight men.
“I condemn this barbaric execution by the Saudi authorities. People in the modern and civilized world can’t accept beheading of eight people anyway. This is a sheer violation of human rights and dignity,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace chairman.
He claimed the Saudi regime acts as stepmother to migrant workers while it treats Europeans and Americans well.
“They call workers from poor countries ‘beggars’ and don’t pay them well. So they commit crimes to survive. If charged with a crime they face capital punishments while nothing happens to workers from developed countries. KSA could have never executed any European or American on the same charges,” the Bishop said.
Faustina Pereira, director of human rights and legal aid services at the NGO BRAC, also condemned the executions.
“Beheading of Bangladeshi workers is a massive human rights violation. The legal procedure that convicted them to a death sentence was [unclear],” she said.
Dr. Pereira also blamed government for not doing enough to save the migrants.
“I’m completely disappointed with the government in the matter. Why didn’t it collect mass signatures from millions of Bangladeshi people to plead for clemency from the Saudi King? Why didn’t it organize mass demonstrations? Why did we hear about it just after beheadings took place? Government can’t escape the blame,” she said.
Remittances from millions of expats plays a vital role in Bangladesh’s economy. Middle East countries employ the highest number of migrants and Saudi Arabia alone has about two million Bangladeshi workers.