Saudi Arabia: Video shows police chasing and beating women at orphanage

The footage has sparked outrage among Saudi activists who say the abuse is consistent with the human rights record of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

A leaked video reportedly showing Saudi security services brutally assaulting a group of women at an orphanage in Saudi Arabia’s south-west has prompted outrage online and a promise by the government to investigate the incident.

The video, first posted on Twitter on Tuesday by a woman who filmed the attack, shows dozens of men dressed in security uniform and others in Saudi national dress chasing women, beating them with wooden sticks and lashing them with leather belts. The video then shows a man dragging one of the women by her hair as she screams, while another beats her with a belt.

The orphanage is located in Khamis Mushait, a city in Asir province, some 884 kilometres from the capital Riyadh.

In response to the video, the governor of the province, Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, ordered the formation of a committee to investigate “all parties” of the incident and “refer the case to the competent authority”.

The video has gone viral on social media, with the hashtag “Khamis Mushait Orphans” trending in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Saudi human rights advocates denounced the video as more evidence of the Saudi government’s suppression of women rights in the kingdom under the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since becoming the kingdom’s de-facto ruler in 2017, the crown prince has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent, despite promoting himself as a leader of liberal reforms. The crackdown has targeted members of the political opposition, the Shia minority, as well as female activists who called for an end to discriminatory policies and social practices against women.

“If you were wondering how MBS’s state security acts when it arbitrarily arrests people – you have a video here of them assaulting an orphanage. Criminals,” wrote Lina Al-Hathloul, a Saudi human rights activist who serves as the head of monitoring and communications at Alqst rights group. MBS is a common nickname for the de facto Saudi leader.

Abdullah al-Jreiwi, a London-based Saudi opposition activist, said the assault came in response to a strike held by the women to demand their rights after earlier demands were rejected. The administration of the orphanage then requested the intervention of the security services,” he wrote on Twitter.

Jreiwi warned that all the women at the orphanage “are now in danger from the security officers, the management of the care home and the female staff.”  He also added that “there is a threat to all those who documented the incident.

“Immediate intervention must be made and everyone who committed the infringement must be held accountable.”

It was not yet immediately clear how many women were detained in the incident. Saudi authorities have yet to release details.

Middle East Eye has asked the Saudi government for comment.

Source: Middle East Eye


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