Jordanian and Palestinian nationals in Saudi Arabia received extra-ordinary sentences on suspicious accusation of relationship with “terrorist” groups.
On Sunday, a Saudi Arabian court handed down convictions against 69 Palestinian and Jordanian residents. Some of these convicts received sentences as long as 22 years in prison.
Based on an investigation by Human Rights Watch, the detention of theses Jordanian and Palestinian nationals dates back to March 2018. The 2020 report explains that the move occurred following a surge of detention by Saudi security apparatus. The Palestinian and Jordanian immigrants in the country faces allegations in relation with suspicion of involvement with an unknown “terrorist” organisation.
There has been no comment by Saudi officials, whether in judicial section or political and security institutions, about the sentences. Analysts believe that Saudi officials prefer to alleviate the potential backlash of the moves against Palestinian nationals by silence.
The long history of Saudi Arabia‘s suppressive policies on migrants hinders any astonishment on new wave of such moves. As Michael Page, a Human Right Watch’s Middle East official put it earlier ““Saudi Arabia’s long record of unfair trials [sic] raises the specter that Jordanian and Palestinian nationals will be railroaded on serious charges and face severe penalties even though some have alleged serious abuses.”
There is a 40-day time for the detainees to appeal the court sentence, while the attorneys find it in vain. This is because, they say, the court process didn’t go through a normal path. Accepting influence from political approaches of the country and figures in the leadership are of main contradictions within the case.
The group comprise only one group, among many, of the Palestinian nationals who have even expecting the trial. Saudi Arabia detained another group of Palestinians in 2019 who are in line for trial.
Special Palestinian Nationals
The story of backlash against Palestinian national receives more clarification when the name of some detainees are brought in light. Among the names, the analysts faced with the name of some middle-rank officials from Hamas group and members of their family.
Mohammed al-Khudairi, a Hamas official in Saudi Arabia, received a 15-year sentence from the Saudi court. The Turkish outlet Anadolu Agency explains that his son will also be in prison for three years.
According to Al-Khudairi’s brother, the punishment includes “clemency for half the time.” The 82-year member has been a famous figure in Hamas leadership. Al-Khudairi has been overseeing the group’s ties with Saudi Arabia since early years of the twentieth century.
Al-Khudairi has been in process of treatment for a prostate cancer when his detention deterred the process in early 2019. His surgery profile indicates the critical health condition he has been since 2 year ago in Saudi detention centers. Along with other Saudi nationals in detention, there are sad stories about detention centers.
Amnesty International has urged Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi de-facto ruler, to dismiss the “unfounded allegations” against al-Khudairi and his son and set them free.
Furthermore, Hamas has slammed the Sunday Palestinian Nationals sentencing, labeling them “unjust”. The group asserted that those in Saudi prisons had committed no damaging act against Saudi Arabia.
In a statement following the sentence, the group said, “we were startled… by the decisions made by the Saudi judiciary against a large number of Palestinians and Jordanians resident in the country.” Hamas also welcomed the acquittal of some of the detainees asking the officials to end their suffering as soon as possible.
Saudi Arabia’s new practice in imprisonment of Palestinian nationals necessitates the analysis in light of the special detainees. The backlash might have special targets.