A Saudi crucifixion: to tweet or not to tweet?

"Those crucified are beheaded first and then their heads are sewn back on their bodies.”

This is from a CNN news account of an execution that took place in Saudi Arabia on Friday, one of about 40 there so far this year (there were at least 102 last year). A man found guilty of murder and other offences was dealt with in this way. You might almost think it’s been made up – but it’s true. (Almost) unbelievable, but true.

I’d heard about the case after getting the Amnesty press release through on Friday night. Not surprisingly Amnesty described it as "horrific". Too right.

In my case it was reading this particular detail that really stunned me (it’s often the details…). If even someone like me – a (fairly) hardened) Amnesty type – could be taken aback, then what would other people think? In a way, this lay in the back of my mind as I pulled this quote out of the CNN news report and tweeted it to my 80 (a modest number!) Niluccio Twitter followers.

Later on I wondered about this. Was it just too grotesque for Twitter? How was this going to look alongside other people’s tweets about Britain’s Got Talent or what they were planning to do on Sunday morning in the warm weather (go and eat a roasted suckling pig in the park was one not entirely pleasant idea I read).

Trivia and brutality: an uneasy mix? My own Twitter channel has been a right old mash up of human rights news, my musical preferences and an occasional musing on this, that and the other. So, in one sense anyone who follows my Niluccio tweets would expect to see some of the gory reality of human rights abuse.

But … still, maybe we can sift the personal from the professional a bit better than this. So, as it happens, the Amnesty media unit is launching a dedicated NewsFromAmnesty Twitter channel from today. It’s for journalists who want reliable human rights in speedy Twitter form – and for anyone else interested in receiving breaking human rights news from Amnesty. As our major kick-off, we’ll be tweeting live from the annual Amnesty International UK media awards ceremony tomorrow night – more on this soon. (BTW, for followers of our excellent AmnestyUK Twitter channel, note: NewsFromAmnesty is separate but feel free to follow both – there will be cross-over but also unique stuff on both).

Meanwhile, that grotesque Saudi execution. President Obama is due in Saudi Arabia this Wednesday and maybe he ought to be delivering a few home truths to the ruling family in Riyadh about the Kingdom’s appalling human rights record. The same goes for Egypt the next day, when Obama delivers a much-trailled “Muslim world” speech. How, asks one commentator, will the "Obama doctrine" fair then?

If Obama does speak out about human rights abuses in these two countries this week – NewsFromAmnesty will certainly be tweeting about it.


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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