Saudi Arabia forcibly hides dozens of Palestinians, rights group says

Sep 08,2019

Saudi authorities arrested some Palestinians during the Haj.

The Euro-Med Observer for Human Rights has urged Saudi Arabia to immediately disclose fate of dozens of Palestinians who have been subjected to enforced disappearance.

In a statement, the Geneva-based rights group called for the Kingdom to release the Palestinians or they are immediately charged with an offense.

The Euro-Med said it could not give an exact number for the Palestinian detainees in Saudi prisons, but it had obtained the names of about 60 people, while estimates within the Palestinian community in Saudi Arabia put the number far higher.

Testimonies

According to the rights group, testimonies of 11 Palestinian families, whose children have been arrested or forcibly disappeared in recent months during their stay or visit to Saudi Arabia, were documented.

It explained that they were isolated from the outside world without specific indictments or presented to the competent authority, and were not allowed to contact their relatives or communicate with their lawyers.

"The campaign of arrests targeting the Palestinians is a link in a long series of violations that add to the kingdom's horrific human rights record," said Celine Information and Communication Officer at the Euro-Med.

A detainee with Algerian nationality - recently released - revealed to the organisation some of the practices, violations and methods of torture suffered by detainees - especially Palestinians.

The former detainee, who left Saudi Arabia last week, said that "the jailers deprives detainees from sleeping or obtaining any medical treatment, although some of them are elderly and need special care."

He added that the food inside the prison was degrading and sometimes in bags, and that the jailers kept the detainees handcuffed even inside the prison cells.

Lost engineer

The rights group pointed out that the family of a Palestinian engineer lost contact with its son early last month, while reviewing the Passports Department in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

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

"What hurts me most is that I don't know anything about my husband; is he alive? Dead? or being tortured?" his wife said. "This has aggravated the pain of my children as well as his parents, brothers and sisters."

No contacts or information

Another Palestinian family who lost contact with her son spoke in July and has since known nothing about him, despite repeated appeals to the authorities to disclose his fate or whereabouts.

According to the family, her son is a former prisoner in Israeli prisons, forcibly deported to Jordan, where he completed his university education and married there, and then moved to work in a company in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities arrested a 60-year-old Palestinian businessman, who has been living in Jeddah for decades, in July.

The Euro-Med quoted one of his sons saying that the authorities confiscated his money and threatened family members, and prevented them from leaving Saudi Arabia for fear of exposing the arrest of their father.

Al Jazeera