Dissidents’ Families in Exile Face Collective Punishment and Violation of Basic Human Rights
A few days ago, Twitter witnessed a wave of tweets from families of a number of Saudi dissidents who are currently abroad, expressing their condition in exile fear of security persecution and threats, and longing for the family in Saudi Arabia, whom they have been deprived of meeting them due to political conditions.
Alia Al-Hathloul, sister of Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul who was released several months ago, wrote on Twitter that it had been four years since she last saw her mother and father due to the travel ban imposed on them “without any legal basis”, only for arbitrarily detaining Loujain and abusing her family at home and abroad.
Alia also confirmed that she will not risk her life and return to Saudi Arabia because she knows the fate that awaits her if she sets foot on Saudi lands due to her activity in opposition to the authorities.
As for her brother, Walid Al-Hathloul, he sent a message to his father via “cyberspace” telling him that he misses him dearly because he has been deprived of seeing him for four years as well, and he cannot return home due to the expected danger.
Al-Hathloul family is not the only one suffering, as Al-Sadhan family also shares the grief. Areej Al-Sadhan, sister of the aid worker Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, expressed her sorrow for the detention of her brother, who has been detained in Saudi prisons for nearly four years after he was arrested and forcibly disappeared by the authorities. He was brought before the judiciary and sentenced to an unfair trial to life imprisonment.
The family of the detainee, Salman Al-Awda, is also suffering the same pain. Where those inside are banned from traveling and deprived of visiting him. His son Abdullah, who lives in exile, is deprived of seeing everyone, his brothers whom the authorities prevent from leaving the country, and his father, who is being abused at all levels in prison since his arrest in the fierce campaign of September 2017, launched by the security services against opponents, activists, intellectuals, academics and writers of all currents.
Families of opponents abroad face violations of all human principles and values. The right to a family meeting, reunification, and communication should never be negotiated, whatever the justifications, especially that dissident opinions should never be a reason for abuse in the first place.
Forced deportation from the homeland, and the constant threat of arrest only due to the family bonds with a dissident, are against all norms and conventions and are a clear crime. Rather, it should be classified as a crime against humanity because it deprives people of their most basic rights to life, freedom of movement and to live in safety.
We – Together for Justice – call on the free people of the world, the decision-makers in the international community, and the relevant UN bodies to take a decisive position on the violations of the Saudi regime, and to seek to create a mechanism that protects the families of opponents abroad and allows them to see their relatives wherever and whenever they want and to ensure their safety and their safety when they return home.
We also call for intervention to pressure the Saudi regime to cancel all travel bans imposed on the families of political opponents and prisoners of conscience and to allow them to leave the country and return to it at any time, while providing all necessary guarantees to preserve their security and safety.