KSA jails 2 tribesmen for backing tribe resisting eviction for NEOM
Human rights reports reveal that the reason a Saudi court sentenced last month two Howeitat tribe members to 50 years in prison is their opposition to the forced eviction of their tribe for the benefit of the NEOM project.
According to human rights reports, "a Saudi court sentenced, last month, two people from the Howeitat tribe to 50 years in prison," noting that the reason was "their opposition to the forced expulsion from their homes to implement the NEOM project."
ALQST human rights organization said that "the ruling was issued by the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal against Abdulilah Al-Howeiti and Abdullah Dukhail Al-Howeiti, who expressed solidarity with their relatives who refused to leave their homes in areas that the authorities want to use for the project."
The ruling included a "travel ban on the two of them for 50 years,” due to their refusal of the forced eviction of their tribe members from their houses in the Tabuk area of northwest Saudi Arabia.
The city, which was announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, covers an area of more than 26,500 square kilometers and extends from the northwest of the Kingdom in conjunction with Egyptian and Jordanian lands.
Who are Howeitat and what is their relationship to the NEOM project?
The Howeitat is an Arab tribe that spreads across a large area in northwestern Saudi Arabia and has many branches distributed in Jordan, Palestine, and Sinai.
Press reports said that "the Saudi government is seeking to move more than 20,000 people from the area to build the new city," most of whom are from the Howeitat tribe.
The reports stated that "the residents of the area fear forced eviction" and say that "this means the dismemberment of an entire community."
Since the announcement of the project, there have been calls to confront the decision to evict the residents of the area by activists from the people of the region and people who stand in solidarity with them, especially through social media, but they are witnessing a ban by the security authorities.
#الحويطات_ضد_ترحيل_نيوم— مُستغرب (@ssr1575) January 13, 2020
قبائل الحويطات وفخوذها متجذرين في مناطق تبوك من قبل ان يدخل عبد العزيز الرياض .
او حتى يعرفوا #آل_سعود منطقة تبوك.
هذه الصوره توضح تجذر هذه القبيله العريقه في هذه المنطقه !! pic.twitter.com/hhX8oNXhTR
According to Alya Al-Howeiti, a Howeitat tribe member who lives in London, some members of the tribe were arrested and threatened with death in 2020 because they denounced the killing of Abdul Rahim Al-Howeiti, who refused to be evicted from his home in favor of the NEOM project.
This came as a report published in the French Le Monde talked about the "NEOM victims" and the suffering of the Howeitat tribe after the authorities' request to evacuate their historical lands for the benefit of the project.
Bin Salman had announced that the first town in the NEOM Economic Zone would be ready in 2019 or 2020, with the entire region to be completed by 2025; however, the completion of any phase of the project has not yet been announced.