Bin Salman disconnected Huwaitat tribe from the world because they refused Neom project
"They have been replaced, they have been scared, they have been terrorized," said Alia al-Huwaiti.06 Mei 2021 14:23
Alia al-Huwaiti, an activist for Al-Huwaitat tribe, which become the victims of Bin Salman's Neom city project. (Alia al-Huwaiti for Albalad.co)
Neom project got its first victim, three years after launched by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman. The Saudi security forces killed Abdurrahim Ahmad Mahmud al-Huwaiti in April 2020 because he refused to leave from his house and land that will be part of the fantasy city.
According to Alia al-Huwaiti, an activist for Huwaitat tribe who currently living in London, the Neom project has destroyed the history and the roots of Huwaitat tribe has been living in the coastal areas of Red Sea in Al-Khobar for 1,200 years.
"Al-Huwaitat tribe villagers already disconnected with the world, we don't know what's going on there. There is no Internet, there is no communication," said Alia al-Huwaiti in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp call today. "We don't know they are still alive or not."
How bad are the impacts of Bin Salman's Neom city project for Al-Huwaitat tribe?
It has destroyed their history, it has destroyed their roots, people have been kicked out of their houses. There are 35 men or more they are in the prison. We dont know they alive or dead. Muhammad bin Salman just kidnapped them.
Al-Huwaitat tribe villagers already disconnected with the world, we don't know what's going on there. There is no Internet, there is no communication. We have no communication with them. We don't know they are still alive or not. It's very-very bad. You are talking about more than 30,000 people around these areas. They have been replaced, they have been scared, they have been terrorized.
How many member of Huwaitat tribes has been killed by Saudi security forces because they opposed the Neom project?
No one since the killing of Abdurrahim al-Huwaiti. But three of his brothers have been kidnapped and they have been in prison.
Is there any replacement for people from Huwaitat tribe was evicted from their villages?
In the beginning of 2017, when MBS (Muhammad bin Salman) announced the project, they went to Al-Huwaitat tribe and they told them they are going to be part of it. They are going to be part of the development,the growing up of the aeras, they will get jobs, nice schools, nice hospitals, and everything will be fine.
So, they have been dreaming for that till 2020, they said to them to leave. They said, "We dont want you to reside in this area."
Is there any compensation or relocation area for Huwaitat people evicted from their villages?
They promised them compensation around 600,000 riyals but just three or four people from Huwaitat tribe agreed to leave because of that amount. They are supporting MBS. But the rest of Huwaitat people took between US$ 2,000 and US$ 3,000. Most of them took nothing. There is no replacement, there is no compensation. They lied to them.
How much the compensation promised by Saudi authorities for Huwaitat people to leave from their villages?
There is no certain amount, between US$ 3,000 and US$ 5,000. Can you imagine? They took their lands and their houses for that amount. The Huwaitat people have been living there since 1,200 years.
How many people from Huwaitat tribe became victims of Neom project?
There are 13 villages inhabited by around 20,000 people. MBS did not start with empty places. He started with villages.
How many people already evisted from that area?
I have no idea now because as I said to you that they are disconnected with the world. But thousands of people are terrifying. They leaved because they are scared for their lives.
Is there any consolidation amng Huwaitat people to launch rebellion against the Saudi government?
That's why MBS didn't allow them to gather more than 2-3 men. If you are Huwaitat and gather five men to discuss anything, you will find police cars surrounding you and picking you to the prison.
But MBS played nicely. After killed Abdurrahim al-Huwaiti, he kept quite for six months and slowly he goes to the biggest people who announced they didn't want to leave, and they kidnapped them form their workdplace, kidnapped them for their houses and sent them to the prison.
MBS was very aware of Al-Huwaitat power. So he places a lot of security forces, helicopters, and drones around the Huwaitat villages for 24 hours. It is like an occupation. The atmosphere there like you are being occupied, you can't do anything, you can't gather with you cousins or go to speak with your uncle. That happened for six months.
Did Saudi government cut basic need in Huwaitat villages, like water and electricity?
Absolutely yes, they did that. And they destroyed many schools as well as hospitals can not be used.
As an activist from Huwaitat tribe, what is your plan to oppose Bin Salman?
We did the first steps by press awareness, did the campaign to tell about Huwaitat tribe becomes the victim of Neom project. We sent letters to all investors company in Neom. We tell them the risk and the legal risk as well. We are going to sue him to the court. That's our next step.
What is your main demand to Bin Salman?
It's about MBS killing Abdurrahim al-Huwaiti and company invested there. We will seek compensation for the tribe, we will seek for justice, we will seek for the release of prisoners.
Is there any effort from Huwaitat tribe to make a consolidation and coordination with other tribes for rebellion?
Absolutely, there are two big tribes and one fo them contacted me personally. They showed solidarity and sympathy. They stand by Al-Huwaitat tribe?
I can't say.
Is there any dead threat against you?
They never stop to threat me. The last one was the day before yesterday.