This Happens In Saudi Arabia, but What Is Still Hidden Can Be Even Worse
In an interview with religious cleric Sheikh Hassan Saleh, a resident of Awamia who has been outside his homeland since 2015, and currently lives in the Iranian city of Qom, home of the world’s largest center for Shia scholarship, al-Ahed News learned some information about how the families of detainees and martyrs are living, but we are quite sure that many brutal measures are still unlearned.
Following last week’s massacre during which the Saudi regime beheaded, executed and crucified a total of 37 men, falsely claiming that they practiced ‘acts of terror’ inside the kingdom, Sheikh Saleh told al-Ahed News some still unknown fact, hoping that they reach the world amid the total silence intended to take place inside the kingdom of terror.
Asked about the families of martyrs following the tragedy, Sheikh Saleh said they signed papers not to demand the bodies of their relatives.
“Any contact between them and any media outlet or on social media about their current situation, they will be punished by the authorities, their sons will be detained. They also have other sons on death row. For example, the Al Rabie family sacrificed two martyrs and still has another son behind bars who is also on death row. Such families fear for the other beloved ones as they were threatened. They were also banned from holding memorial ceremonies. Some people were detained because they participated in memorial ceremonies of previous martyrs.”
He further explained that it is very hard to learn the real situation via the Saudi media.
“There is oppression against Shia. When speaking of Shia, I don’t mean that they are being oppressed by the Sunnis. No! The tyranny is practiced by the Wahhabi ideology there. Some people thing that the Shia are oppressed by the Wahhabis, Sunnis are also oppressed there. The Wahhabi ideology had involved itself among the Sunnis.”
"The Wahhabi oppression against us was not practiced against any people in the world."
“We’ve witnessed –at the time when the government was still handing people the bodies of their martyrs- many signs of autopsy on many bodies of the previous martyrs. Many of our martyrs, who fell on the ground, were hit with non-fatal shots. At the time, when the bodies were returned, we used to witness the signs of autopsy. Many physicians also indicated that the organs of those bodies had been removed.”
For those who were recently executed, bodies were not handed to their families. Any Shiite the government kills, it doesn’t hand his body. This is a proof on the body organs theft of those martyrs, the cleric said.
Relatively, many of the martyrs became disabled as a result of the torture; Said Skafi, Mujtaba Sweikat, Munir Adam… also Martyr Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, had disability before they beheaded him. The regime doesn’t need their ‘forced consent’ to remove their organs.
Torture until death
Martyr Said Skafi suffered from severe trembling as a result of torture on the first days of his arrest. He continued suffering from face hemiplegia for over a year. After starting to recover, Said then started suffering from hemorrhoids for which he repeatedly demanded treatment but was always denied. Consequently, Said’s both physical and psychological health deteriorated, he was later anesthetized for some three days inside the hospital of the General Investigations Prison in al-Dammam. He received the last visit on April 11, and had his last phone call with his family on April 16, a week ahead of his beheading, without learning anything that this would be his fate.
Burying the bodies
“The Saudi regime does bury the bodies in a special place designated for those it executes. Yet martyrs are not buried as per the rituals of the religion they belong to. They also don’t set any gravestone that indicates to whom this tomb belongs. They pretend that the body of any executed individual has not sanctity, what if it belongs to the Shia,” Sheikh Saleh said.
“As per the Wahhabi ideology, we are infidels! We don’t have sanctity when we are alive, then what about after we die. The matter is not only about those martyrs, we have around 100 martyrs whose bodies haven’t been handed yet. Some families have bodies of two of their sons not handed…the al-Faraj family for example sacrificed more than 4 martyrs.”
The farewell call
As every week, the martyrs called their families on the same day they were executed. They saluted their families without having any earlier notice that it is the last day of their lives. The families even didn’t believe as they learned the news from social media and news outlets. They thought they were rumors. They didn’t believe it at first.
The Sheikh told us of his own story of suffering with the Saudi authorities
My brother was arrested only because he contacted me. As an opposition member, I am not allowed to talk to my brother.
Back to my brother, he was arrested because he contacted me in an issue the government wanted him to talk to me about. My house was among the many houses destroyed in the al-Mosawara neighborhood, and my father died when I was outside the country; so, as per law, I have to sign whether I allow them to destroy the house or not. I didn’t sign the papers to destroy mu house, I neither signed the papers to receive money in exchange of the house. My brother contacted me in this regard. He said he wanted an authorization from me so he can receive the money, but I didn’t accept. Later on, they detained him.
They also wanted to trap me. I have a disabled son who is studying at a specialized rehabilitation center in Jordan. My detained brother used to take care of my son as I couldn’t go there. So, after they detained my brother, they banned my family members from visiting my son there. Now, it’s been almost two years since I last contacted them. After that, my son’s school called me saying if I didn’t go there they will expel him after a week. I told them how comes you expel him and he is disabled? They said it is not of their business because the Saudi embassy doesn’t accept that anymore. I myself was delaying the issue until the Jamal Khashoggi case emerged to the surface and everyone was busy with it, then my son’s issue was neglected. Otherwise, they wanted me to go there for him so they can take me to Saudi Arabia or perhaps do the same as they did with Khashoggi.
My brother’s only crime was contacting me, they further threatened him that they will bring me and kill me in front of his sight. They also summoned my mother and threatened to detain her but said they won’t because she is old. My mother is 80-years old, she was summoned for interrogation just because I contacted her on the Eid al-Fitr of two years ago to greet her. After that, my family sent me through a friend a message not to contact them anymore.
In the spotlight
There are still many detainees who are suffering from disabilities and diseases as a result of the torture and being denied medical treatment. In addition, they are on death row making their life in grave danger so that they might be executed at any moment, not to mention that all of them were forced to sign on committing the crimes they are accused of. Some of them attempted to commit suicide due to the torture. Some of them see death better than being humiliated and tortured on a daily basis. Some of the martyrs had signed on committing crimes that happened while they were already behind bars! The regime claims that they have taken part in killing servicemen, however, there is no evidence that they had carried weapons over the course of their lives.
Martyr Ahmad al-Rabie was executed because he ‘covered up’ the place where his brother Hussein was. Many were arrested because of ‘covering up’ the whereabouts of their relatives.
For example, martyrs Abdullah al-Sreih, Hussein al-Rabie and Muntadher Subeiti were human rights activists. They had peaceful demands and organized peaceful protests. But the regime wants to deliver a message to the Shia before Sunnis that any movement is considered against the kingdom’s guardian and hence considered an ‘act of terror’.
When the family of Sheikh Mohammad al-Atiyah held a memorial ceremony for his martyrdom, the Saudi regime forces’ came up with armored vehicles, they stormed the area and banned them from continuing the event.
The Saudi regime’s hostages
In the same context of terrifying people, the Saudi regime took from every family of a martyr, detainee or a wanted a hostage member so that –fearing the fate of the other ones- the families won’t demand for the bodies of martyrs, and the detainees be forced to sign the papers that find them guilty despite not committing those crimes, and the wanted ones would surrender. Besides, the regime also bans the families of the detainees and the wanted from the essential living services.
This is a story of what we have learned, bringing it to the world to share it until everybody knows that there is a people in a forgotten land, who are suffering to survive with dignity.
And as late martyr Ayatollah Sheikh Nirm Baqir al-Nimr had once said, “Either we live on this land as free people, or be buried inside it as dignified,” the people of Qatif will still sacrifice.
This is our story to you, if you have learned any other one, humanely do not hesitate to share!