Shakespeare on Saudi-Arabian Style Executions

Richard III pre-sentences Lord Hastings to deathBUCKINGHAM
Now, my lord, what shall we do, if we perceive
Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?
GLOUCESTER
Chop off his head, man; somewhat we will do…

(King Richard III, act 3, sc. 1)

Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded a 24-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid by the name of Rizana Nafeek. Nafeek had been convicted of murdering her employer’s infant child (when she was 17) though she denied the charge.
The execution shows two things. One, the type of “democracy” that the US supports with massive military bases all over the country. And two, the timid, not to say callous attitude of the Sri Lankan government towards the fate of hundreds of thousands migrant workers from Sri Lanka in the Middle East.
All the Sri Lanka government did was to  “… deplore the execution of Rizana Nafeek despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally.”
In perfect Orwellian style “efforts at the highest level of the (Sri Lanka) government”  did not even amount to helping Nafeek with her legal defence. As explained by a government official, it was “important not to violate Saudi Arabia’s domestic laws.” Translation, the government’s priority all along was to maintain good relations with the Saudi regime, and not to disrupt the flow of remittances from migrant workers back to Sri Lanka.
Nafeek left for the Middle East at the age of 17, after a job agent persuaded her to alter her age in order to be eligible for employment. Although she had been promised a job as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia, she was forced to work as a babysitter, caring for a child without any experience or training. Just weeks later she was charged with murder after the infant died while she was bottle-feeding him.
A Saudi court convicted her on the basis of a so-called confession extracted by police. She had to face the court without the assistance of a lawyer or a professional translator. In her appeal before the Saudi Supreme Court, financially assisted by the Asian Human Rights Commission, she retracted her confession, saying it had been made under duress. She said the child had begun to choke during feeding and she had been unable to save him. The Supreme Court rejected her appeal and upheld her death sentence. It ignored the fact that she was just 17 when the incident took place.
Up until the last minute, the Sri Lankan government falsely claimed that Nafeek would be pardoned as a result of its negotiations with Saudi authorities.
And though women in Saudi Arabia enjoy the benefits of beheading, they are not allowed to drive – one more reason for the US government determination to support this distant state and bulwark of democracy.

Tips for Use. Quote as an example of a ‘democratic government’ who fights the “war on terror” protected by, and enjoying perfect harmony with, the US Administration.

In the play. Lord Stanley sends a message to Hastings that he, Stanley, had a frightful dream about a fierce boar. He saw in their dream signs of impending danger (and he was right). But Hastings does not believe in dreams. Richard III will have him beheaded.

Image site: http://www.copia-di-arte.com/a/russian-school/the-beheading-of-john-the.html

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