Days of Palestine

Friday, March 24

Euro-Med says Saudi Arabia forcibly hides dozens of Palestinians

Days of Palestine -

The Euro-Mediterranean Monitor for Human Rights urged the Saudi authorities to immediately reveal the fate of dozens of Palestinians who have been subjected to enforced disappearance and to release them.

The Geneva-based group said in a statement that it could not give an exact number of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia, but it has names of about 60 people, while the Palestinian community in Saudi Arabia says the number far exceeds this.

Euro-Med added that it was able to document testimonies from eleven Palestinian families whose relatives had been arrested or forcibly disappeared in the last few months during their stay or visit to Saudi Arabia, including students, residents, academics and businessmen.

In fact, those people were isolated from the outside world without any specific indictments against them. They were not brought before the public prosecution, nor allowed to communicate with their relatives, or communicate with their lawyers, the group noted.

"The campaign of arrests targeting Palestinians represents a small part of a long series of violations that are added to the Kingdom's horrific human rights record," Selin Yasar, Euro-Med’s communication and media officer, said.

A detainee with an Algerian nationality, who was released recently, has revealed to Euro-Med some of the practices, violations, and methods of torture that the detainees, especially Palestinians, suffer from by interrogators and jailers of the Dhahban Central Prison in Saudi Arabia.

The former detainee, who left Saudi Arabia last week, said those jailers deprived detainees of sleep or access to medical treatment, although some of them were elderly and in need of special care.

He added that food inside the prison was served in a humiliating way and was sometimes offered in bags, and that the jailers kept detainees shackled even while in their prison cells.

The Dhahban Central Prison is located in a small, isolated village off the coast, 20 kilometers outside the borders of Jeddah, where authorities are holding thousands of prisoners.

The Geneva-based group pointed out that the family of engineer (A5), a resident of the occupied West Bank, had lost contact with him early last month, while attending to the Passports Department in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

According to the family's statement, they and his friends, who work for a Saudi company, were prevented from asking about his fate or the place of detention.

"My biggest pain is not knowing anything about my husband. I do not know if he is alive, dead, healthy or tortured, and this made his disappearance more painful for my children, his parents, and his siblings," said A5's wife.

According to Euro-Med, the family of the Palestinian (B7) is another example of enforced disappearance in Saudi Arabia. The family of B7 lost contact with him last July, and has known nothing about him since then despite their repeated appeals to the authorities to reveal his fate or whereabouts.

According to the family, its relative is a former prisoner in Israeli jails and was forcibly deported to Jordan, where he completed his university education, got married and then moved to work for a company in Saudi Arabia.

Euro-Med also said that the Saudi authorities arrested last July a 60-year-old Palestinian businessman, who has been living in Jeddah for decades.

Euro-Med reported that one of the detainee’s sons said that the authorities confiscated his money, threatened his family members to keep silent, and prevented them of leaving Saudi Arabia.

Euro-Med also reported the detention of Palestinian-born people with Arab nationalities while performing pilgrimage this year, but their families remain silent regarding the conditions of their detention in the hope that their nightmare of enforced disappearance would come to an end, and they would return to their normal life.

Among those cases is a family of Palestinian origins with a Jordanian nationality. Their breadwinner left to perform pilgrimage with his wife, but he did not return to Jordan. His wife, who told his children and friends that the authorities in Jeddah had summoned him for an interview on August 9, did. Since then, she has had no idea about his fate or the place of detention.

The wife said that she had submitted the necessary documents to the Saudi embassy in Amman upon her return to Jordan, and had also requested the Jordanian foreign ministry to help collect information about her husband's fate.

Euro-Med described the Saudi authorities' practices against Palestinian citizens and detainees as serious human rights violations and a reflection that the competent authorities in the country do not respect international legal rules that guarantee the simplest litigation rights for any individual.

The human rights group affirmed that under international law, the crime of enforced disappearance could still be valid until the state reveals the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned.

It called upon Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to order the executive authorities to immediately reveal the fate of dozens of Palestinians who have been subjected to enforced disappearance, release others detained without specific indictments, and open an urgent investigation into these cases and prosecute those responsible.

The organization also urged the Saudi King to address the brutal methods used by the Saudi security forces against those forcibly disappeared and subjected to other forms of bad treatment.

It appealed to the international community to put pressure on the Saudi decision-makers to spare Saudi citizens and foreigners the suffering of secret detention and to end the flagrant human rights violations in the country.