Yemen: Al Haudali Family Fears Retaliation From Saudis for Participation in Documentary

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The Al Haudali family, of Yemeni origin but based in Saudi Arabia for the past 50 years, have informed Alkarama that they had been threatened and harassed by the Saudi authorities since a documentary film aired recently on the satellite channel "Al Asr" talking about the tragic story that this family was subjected to at the hands of Saudi Arabia's Security services. The documentary retraces their arbitrary detention in Saudi Arabia followed by torture and mistreatment, and ending with their forcible deportation to Yemen.

The Al Haudali family's story is as incredible as it is tragic. The family migrated from Yemen to Saudi Arabia in the 1950's and lived in Mecca for about half a century. As they were expecting to obtain citizenship under Saudi Arabian law, they found themselves thrown behind bars and exposed to the worst forms of humiliation and abuse. In 2009, the Saudi Arabian authorities arrested dozens of members of the Al Haudali family, including women and children, as well as a number of other relatives, some of whom remain hostages in Saudi prisons.

All of these arrests were made on the mere suspicion that one of the members of the family bore the characteristics of "Al Mahdi" [according to religious texts: the righteously guided, who will save the believers at the end of time], as described by the religious traditions. The Saudi authorities allegedly feared that the appearance of this prophet could lead to the destabilization of the ruling regime in the country, or provoke a state of unrest similar to the well-known events that rocked the Kingdom in 1980, known as the "Juhayman" events.

These bizarre accusations, described by the victims themselves in the documentary, led to the tragedy which the Al Haudali family lived. This story, blending religion and politics, sheds light on the nature of human rights violations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Al Haudali families expressed their fear of a retaliatory action by the Saudi Arabian authorities against them. They fear that the Saudis, taking advantage of the fragile situation in Yemen, use their influence in Yemen to put pressure on the government to take arbitrary retaliatory measures against these families.

It should be noted that hundreds of Yemenis detainees remain in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and are subjected to various forms of persecution, including forced displacement, arbitrary detention lasting for years, during which they are subjected to – in most cases – mistreatment and torture, which leads in some cases, as in a number of cases recently documented by Alkarama, to death as a result of torture.

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