Saudi Arabia: Yemeni pilgrim, Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM reappears in detention in Al Abha prison

عبدالرب جحام

Alkarama has learned that the Yemeni pilgrim, Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM, who forcibly disappeared in Saudi Arabia recently reappeared in Abha prison in southwestern Saudi Arabia. It is only recently that he was allowed to contact his family for the first time since his arrest by Saudi security forces at the Al-Wadia border crossing last April. 

The young man, GEHAM, was arrested on April 13, 2023 at the Al-Wadia border crossing, and no traces were found since that date despite the tireless efforts made by his father to find out about his whereabouts. 

On September 12, 2023, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances regarding his case. 

Suspected of affiliation with Houthi group 

According to the information obtained by the victim’s family, GEHAM is suspected by Saudi authorities of being affiliated with the "Houthi" group, an accusation the family strongly denies. 

Ironically, GEHAM was arrested while Riyadh was hosting a Houthi delegation to discuss on a potential peace agreement in Yemen. Saudi authorities arrested and continue to detain a young man who was on his way to perform Umrah while the Houthi delegation which includes leaders listed on Riyadh's wanted list are hosted by the Kingdom. Riyadh is offering millions of dollars rewards for information leading to their apprehension. 

Context of arrest and detention 

Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM had obtained an official visa to perform Umrah to Mecca. On 13 April 2023, while travelling to Mecca with a number of relatives, he was arrested by members of the security forces at the Al-Wadia border crossing. Without any explanation of his arrest and without a warrant for his arrest, he was forced into a car before being transferred to an unknown destination. 

Saudi Authorities' Denial 

After the victim's disappearance, his father, who had also obtained a visa to perform the religious pilgrim of “Hajj” went to Saudi Arabia to search for his son. He first went to the al-Wadia border crossing where he learned that his son had been transferred to the Najran Criminal Investigation Center. However, authorities at the center did not acknowledge his son's detention, informing him that he had been transferred to a prison in Sharurah on the border of Yemen's Hadramawt governorate. The father then contacted the Attorney General of the Emirate of Najran without receiving a response. 

Following the authorities denial, the victim's family mandated Alkarama to refer his case to  the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances

Once again, Alkarama stresses the need to respect religious freedom and the safety of pilgrimages to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. 

Alkarama will not hesitate to raise this issue during Saudi Arabia's upcoming Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations Human Rights Council.