UPDATE (24.06.2019): Latest Twitter account for Mrs. Ghada was https://twitter.com/ghadaalfadl3 - now suspended by TWITTER for the 3rd time. TWITTER MUST STOP TO ABUSE VICTIMS.
UPDATE (22.06.2019): The new Twitter account of Mr. Ghada was again suspended by Twitter. We are now collecting case-files for a class action directed at Twitter. If you are a persecuted person / refugee and your Twitter account was your lifeline, but got suspended by Twitter without a valid reason, please report to . All cases will be handled in total confidentiality.
UPDATE (20.06.2019): Mrs. Ghada has a new twitter account for her supporters: https://twitter.com/Ghadaalfadl UK ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE STOPS UK WEAPONS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA
UPDATE (19.06.2019): Saudi Arabia is a MURDER STATE - STOP US ARMS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA
UPDATE (17.06.2019): Two more victims of Saudi violence against women are stuck in Turkey and need assistance to go to a safe country: https://twitter.com/i/status/1140786203760812033 The relatives of the two young sisters, Ms. Doaa and Ms. Dalal Khalid al Showaiki are hot on their heels to take them back to Saudi Arabia and their Twitter accounts were then blocked by Twitter but have been restored in the meantime after an outcry by human rights organizations.
UPDATE (15.06.2019:) For now Mrs. Ghada and her young family are in a location on the mainland in Greece waiting that the promises coming from one potential third country of asylum materialize. But they are still very vulnerable and endangered.
How Twitter Plays a Role in the Downfall of Saudi Activists and Victims of Oppression.
A few months later in the year and it still seems that the crackdown on Saudi Activists remains a challenge within the Arab world and global sphere.
From the death of popular Human Rights Defender, Jamal Khashoggi to the torture and abuse of activists such as Loujain Hathloul, Saudi Arabia is not going down without a fight and proving to the world that they refuse to let anybody or anything decide on how to run the affairs of their country - let alone their own citizen.
Most of what we know and how we know it is influenced by the world of Social Media. Without platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or even Instagram, we would still be under the delusion that countries such as Saudi Arabia are rich and refined countries that are controlled by men and women who are not half-devils behind the scenes.
In fact, I would say the House of Saud has a PhD in "reflecting realities about their Kingdom that don’t even exist" - all for the sake of ensuring that their image remains pure and untainted.
Though we do owe our gratitude to the aforementioned social media platforms for the access of information and interaction, one can’t help but curse these platforms at the same time.
Through my advocacy for Saudi women and perhaps many other human rights affairs that I often engage in, I have realised the dangers that Social Media plays on the fate of the victims I advocate for.
For Example, I am currently dealing with a case of a middle-aged Saudi mother of 3 by the name of Ghada who had fled to Greece for asylum.
"Loose lips - sink ships!" but "Loose Tweets - sink fleets!"
She left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2010 because her shop was constantly raided by the religious police and they had allegedly harassed her for no apparent reason - except for the believe of their Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) that women belong into the house and its kitchen and not as an entrepreneur into a shop.
She finally fled fled from all the abuse, escaped from Saudi Arabia and lived in Syria, met the love of her live during the period of her stay and both had taken the decision to get married in Syria and to register their marriage later under the Saudi Ministry.
Due to her lover being a foreigner to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry refused to recognize their marriage and had wanted Ghada, who was pregnant at the time, to undergo a pregnancy test to see if the child’s father was the man she had planned to marry.
El Fadl quickly turned to a human rights organization in Riyadh for assistance, but was met with alleged sexual harassment by a government worker.
After telling him about my problem & asked for his assistance, he said: “if you want your problem to be solved you should come with me to a nearby apartment and I will help you afterwards.” I fiercely refused his unsolicited sexual advances.https://twitter.com/GhadaFadl54/status/1129942863675101184
Ghada refused his sexual advancements and sought the help of other Saudi agencies, all of which denied her requests.
After the refusal to have her body violated in the one or the other way for unjust purposes, Ghada returned to her husband in Syria and to the children. But the war there got worse.
During the civil war, she attempted to request the registration of her marriage at the Saudi Embassy in Beirut in Lebanon so her and her family could go back to Saudi Arabia.
She appealed to the Saudi diplomatic mission. When Saudi Ambassador Khaled AlShaalan learned that she had married without an approval from Saudi Ministry of Interior he said, “If you weren’t 7 months pregnant I would forcibly returned you to Saudi Arabia on the first flight.”
One again she had to return to Syria in despair and emptyhanded.
Together with her husband she then followed other refugees and they fled with the children to Greece, through the borders of Turkey. There in Greece they are currently residing now.
Since then Ghada and her family have been trying to get asylum for years within the Greek and European parameters, however the NGO InterSOS in Greece told her that they consider Saudi Arabia a “safe country” and for that reason, they are not able to help her. The second time around she was then told her case was something only the Greek Government can intervene in.
Ghada continued to seek for assistance from an Asylum/Refugee Center in Greece, but there her case has been pending now for almost 2 years without having received information on any progress.
To make matters worse, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Greece had caught onto Ghada’s social media plea for help, that went slightly viral as her story saw itself in big media outlets such as the BBC.
In the world of the House of Saud women are seen as best as means - like Ivanka Trump for Mohamed bin Salman - or as objects in the possession of a man, who can buy, gamble, sell or auction them anytime.
The Saudi Embassy in Greece also had made efforts to get in touch with Ghada by vigorously texting and calling her even in odd hours of the mornings and evenings, threatening her to take down her Twitter account and that they will forcibly take her back to the Kingdom which would force a separation from her children as well their father who is her husband.
In addition she would face court, because it is illegal for a Saudi woman who gets pregnant from or gives birth to a child of someone to whom she is not bound with a marriage recognized by the Saudi government. Such is considered adultry and can be punished even by death.
The Saudi Kingdom presents itself as a leader of the region in women’s rights as the regime attempts to consolidate power internationally yet uses women’s rights as a negotiation card rather than empowering its female citizens. Saudi Arabia is currently ranked 138 of 144 states in the 2017 Global Gender Gap, a World Economic Forum report the gaps between men and women in four significant expanses: economic and political participation, health and education.
An Associate Professor of Women’s History who is retired from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia told the Canadian board of Immigration and Refugees in 2018 that “if the government does not recognize the marriage, the couple will be subject to criminal penalties if, while in Saudi Arabia, they are living in the same residence or if they have children together, as adultery is criminalized, including with the death penalty.”
Stoning to death or beheading - just like recently 38 Saudi nationals, among them women and even even minors who in international norms were innocent - are the sentences carried out without mercy.
And now they are after Mrs. Ghada.
First she sensed that they were after her, when her husband and the children were sent from the Greek Island of Samos, where they had landed by boat during their ecape from Syria, to the mainland, but she was restrained and had to remain behind. That is when she turned to social media to seek help against inhuman treatment. Even in Greece it is against the law to seperate a family.
Thanks to the public outrage, she was then quickly ushered to rejoin her husband and the kids, but the harassment continued.
"The Saudi Embassy in Greece asked me to stop writing about my case on Twitter They also asked me to write a letter accusing other women activists of having broken into my Twitter account and managing it. I was also requested that I write a letter of apology to the
#Saudi authorities," she narrates her ordeal.
Since Ghada’s extended family is in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi officials sometimes even tried to excert pressure and communicated to Ghada through her family in the hopes that she would give in to the threats, write apologetic letters to the ruler and return.
The Ambassador of the Saudi Embassy in Greece played in all this a very negative role, complicated Ghada’s case and continues to do so even today - despite the fact that this family of five are all officially registered and UNHCR-recognized refuges who just seek asylum in third country, which is their right guaranteed under the Reuge conventions to which also Saudi Arabia is a signatory. A durable solution must be found.
Unfortunately the only rection from the UN was so far an inspection visit by UNICEF Greece and their implementing partner InterSOS, who provides for refugee accomodation, food and medicine, while invisible hands seem to hamper their asylum case.
And the haunt continues that only can be escribed as illegal persecution.
I too, saw myself experiencing a bit of a problem with my Twitter account yesterday where my tweet updates about Ghada’s case kept mysteriously disappearing within a time span of 5–10 seconds every time I had tagged her. At first I didn’t want to naively jump to conclusions but at the back of my head I had realized it, calculated exactly what was happening and found out why it was happening.
Such threats started to also come to me.
What does that say about the relationship Twitter or any other social media platform has with the Saudi Kingdom?
It says many of these victims like Ghada who use platforms such as Twitter to seek help,have to realize that it’s these same platforms that sell and deliver the victims straight into the Devil's hands.
Read Also: First the report was Saudi journalist 'traced by Twitter spies' forcibly disappeared
and then Next Saudi journalist exterminated
Ghada is under threat from a regime that didn’t mind sadistically killing well known journalist and activist just a year ago in one of their consulates overseas in Turkey.
She’s under threats from a regime that is in monetary terms among the most powerful in the world and that has no regards for any person's life unless it’s in their own financial interest and convenient for them.
To make matters worse, that same regime is technically supported by entities such as Twitter where people’s opinions, thoughts and realities are under constant surveillance for the sake of controlling what they don’t want the masses to see. In addition Saudi Arabia has engaged Israeli internet spying tools of highest grade to crack down on activists and dissidents.
Let’s question ourselves as a society:
Why do we choose to support and to elevate technological brands that continually involve themselves in the down-fall of others?
Do we or should we enjoy the idea of having to be under surveillance because of a certain mind-set we differently hold as individuals?
Why do we glorify or rather, kiss the feet of influencers and founders of these technological entities who allow states such as Saudi Arabia to hold a stake within their companies that cause harm to the greater community at large?
As an Activist it scares me that people can be so easily bought, however, it doesn’t surprise me either.
The ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach can be as enticing as money, power or even lust. But it scares me even more to see that the oppressed are often the middle-men of such corrupted tactics and yet we are all suppose to be “okay” about it.
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to stay quiet…
Thobeka Felicia - Human Rights Activist and Founder of the Justice4SaudiWomen Campaign
Thobeka is a South African Human Rights Peace Activist. Featured in NewsWeek, Norwegian Human Rights Fund, Womens March Global, PRI
WATCH WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO DISSIDENT SAUDI WOMEN: