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Saudi Arabia: The land of rising beheadings

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No nodding anymore

By Gaurav Sharma

A report by human rights organization Amnesty International has revealed the alarming rate at which beheadings are being carried out in the Middle-eastern kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The report claims that the Islamic nation executed 175 people last year, an expeditious rate of one beheading every day. The 102 people killed so far in 2015 puts Saudi Arabia on course to beat its 1995 record of 192 beheadings.

In total, Saudi Arabia has executed 2,208 people since 1985, of which nearly 49 percent were foreign nationals. Among those slaughtered have been children below the age of 18 and disabled persons as well.

According to the report, the surge in the government killings began in August last year and has further escalated under the rule of King Salman from January this year.

The report attributes the discrimination of law to a combination of xenophobic pressure by the Saudi government and the inability of foreigners to understand Arabic language.

Among the offences which invited the death penalty were minor drug-related accidents, other crimes not considered as ‘serious’ or even illegal such as adultery, sorcery, witchcraft and ‘apostasy’.

“The Saudi justice system which authorized the killings is deeply-flawed. Not only is the death penalty a horrendous punishment, it is particularly deplorable when applied dictatorially”, says Boumedouha, Amnesty’s acting Middle East director.

The method used to execute convicted prisoners was usually beheading but some people were also killed by a firing squad, the report noted. Also adding weight to the gruesome nature of the justice system in Saudi Arabia, is the fact that most executions were carried out in public spaces.

“The remains of those executed were displayed in public to act as a deterrent. The decapitated corpse along with the severed head were posted in a public square, typically in cases of haraba or banditry”, the report quoted.

Furthermore, the report highlighted the sentence and conviction of 15-16 year-old Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, a teenage who was executed largely under evidence of signed confessions, something that the boy said were taken under duress.

The case of an Indonesian mother accused of killing her employer was also unearthed. Despite evidence of mental illness, Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa was forced to confess in 1999. Right to trial and legal representation were denied to the woman all through her ordeal.

The report titled ‘Killing in the Name of Justice’: The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia was compiled through interviews with families of those slayed.

Saudi Arabia now lags only behind China and Iran in the Amnesty study of the top countries in the number of executions carried out last year.

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Microsoft takes ‘Project Sangam’ to Middle East and Africa

"Project Sangam" was commenced from Andhra Pradesh

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Microsoft's 99DOTS initiative helping TB patients in India
Microsoft expands 'Project Sangam'. Wikimedia commons

In a bid to bridge the widening skill gap, Microsoft on Monday announced expansion of the capabilities of its Cloud-powered “Project Sangam” to the Middle East and Africa.

Launched in India by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last year, “Project Sangam” is a Cloud-hosted platform that leverages Azure services and professional networking platform LinkedIn to support new entrants to the job market, enabling key stakeholders across the skilling ecosystem find the right talent.

Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft’s Sangam is a cloud-based platform. Wikimedia Commons

“Lack of skilled resources is one of the key issues that governments across the world are facing. There is an enormous scope for technology to come in to address the skill gap that exists in the workforce today,” Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, said in a statement.

Nadella launched “Project Sangam” to help the Indian government not only train but also assist people get jobs via LinkedIn that was acquired by the company for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal in 2016. “Project Sangam” was commenced from Andhra Pradesh.

Also Read: Microsoft brings enhanced security features to Office 365

“‘Sangam’ is the first project that wields the combined strength of LinkedIn and Microsoft to tackle the challenge of how to provide every person the opportunity to skill themselves,” added Bhansali who is also Managing Director of Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited. As part of the expansion, Microsoft South Africa and the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) have launched “Thint’iMillion”, an online mass learning system.

Microsoft Kaizala
The project was first launched in Andhra Pradesh. VOA

Part of the “Tshepo 1Million Digital Mass” learning programme, the “Thint’iMillion” programme will be deployed on “Project Sangam”, allowing young people to access content via an on-phone app (Android only), tablet mode (Windows and Android) as well as an interactive web portal. IANS

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