How Twitter plays a role in the downfall of Saudi Activists and victims of oppression.
A Saudi-Twitter Love Affair that can land you in prison or without a head.
A few months later into the year and it still seems as though the crackdown on Saudi Activists remains a challenge within the Arab world and global spheres.
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 its country let alone its own citizens.
Majority 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 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 Saudi 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 above-mentioned 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 of Saudi women and perhaps many other human rights affairs that I often engage in, I have realized 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 Al Fadl who had fled to Greece for asylum purposes.
She left the Kingdom of Saudi in 2010 because her shop was constantly raided by the religious police and they had allegedly harassed her for no apparent reason.
She fled to Syria with her 2 children, met her lover during the period of her stay and both had taken the decision to get married and register their marriage under the Saudi Ministry.
Due to her lover being a Syrian foreigner, the Saudi Ministry refused to marry them and had wanted Ghada who was pregnant with her third child at the time, to go under a pregnancy test to see if the child’s Father was the Syrian man she had planned to marry.
After the refusal to have her body violated for unjust purposes, she and her lover with the children fled to Greece, illegally through the borders of Turkey where they are currently residing now.
Ghada and her family have been trying to get asylum for years within Greek parameters however the United Nations in Greece had 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 told her case was something only the Greek Government can intervene in.
Ghada continued to seek for assistant within an Asylum/Refugee Center in Greece where her case has been pending for almost 2 years without being informed of any progress.
To make matters worse, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Greece had caught on to Ghada’s social media plea for help which went slightly viral as her story saw itself in big media outlets such as the BBC.
The Saudi Embassy had made efforts to get in touch with Ghada by vigorously texting and calling her 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 where she would be separated from her children and lover.
Since Ghada’s extended family is in Saudi, the Saudi officials would sometimes communicate to Ghada through her family in the hopes that she would oblige to the threats.
The Ambassador of the Saudi Embassy in Greece has also had a very negative role to play in the midst of Ghada’s case and continues to do so even today.
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 dissappearing within the time span of 5–10 secs every time I had tagged her. I didn’t want to naively jump into conclusions but at the back of my head I had calculated exactly what was happening and why it was happening.
What does that say about the relationship Twitter or any other social media platform has with the Kingdom?
It says many of these victims like Ghada use platforms such as Twitter to seek for help. However it’s these same platforms that sell and deliver these victims straight into the Devils hands.
Ghada is now under the threat of a regime that didn’t mind sadistically killing an activist a year ago in one of their embassies overseas in Turkey.
She’s under the threat of a regime that is the most powerful in the world and has no regard for the next persons life unless it’s of their own financial convenience 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.
Let’s question ourselves as a society:
Why do we choose to elevate technological brands that continually involve themselves in the downfall of others?
Do we or should we enjoy the idea of having to be under surveillance because of a certain mindset we differently hold as individuals?
Why do we glorify or rather, kiss the feet of influences 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 nevertheless it doesn’t surprise me either.
The ‘carrot on the 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 supposed to be “okay” about it.
I don’t know about you but I refuse to stay quiet…
Thobeka- Human Rights Activist, Founder of the Justice4SaudiWomen Campaign.