Al-Huwaitat Tribe Seeks UN Help as Saudi Gov’t. Is Out to Displace Them

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been noted to make efforts to improve its international image, yet the al-Huwaitat tribe is once again seeking help from the UN. Urgent communication is being sent by members of the al-Huwaitat tribe pertaining to claims of abuse and displacement, in connection with the NEOM mega-city project unveiled by the Saudi government in 2016.

The NEOM project drew international attention in 2018 when several NEOM Advisory Board members withdrew their involvement, including prominent British architect Norman Foster. Their main reason for doing so was the Saudi government’s alleged implication in the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist.

In April of this year, a Saudi citizen and al-Huwaitat tribe member were slain by Saudi security forces, while the government reported that the two were killed in the course of a gun battle.

Last September, an appeal to the United Nations was made by the al-Kuwaitat tribe as several members have been arrested or abducted because they continue to lead in the tribe’s defiance of relocation orders that would make way for the NEOM project. The arrested members are being held incommunicado by Saudi security forces. Matters have taken a turn for the worse as the whereabouts of two tribe members arrested last October 1, 2020 remain unknown.

 

The Controversy Surrounding the NEOM Mega-City Project

Based on 2016 information materials disseminated by the Saudi government in unveiling the NEOM project, the plan is to build a mega-city on virgin lands. However, it later turned out that the supposed “virgin land” is located in northwest Tabuk province, which include settlements occupied for a number of centuries by the al-Huwaitat tribe.

Today, an estimated 20,000 al-Huwaitat tribal members are facing eviction to make way for the NEOM project.

Dawn Chatty, a professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration at Oxford University, spoke with the Al Jazeera and said

”The Saudi government is not even trying to settle the issue with the tribe, pretending that the al-Huwaitat settlement does not exist at all.”

Touted as the New Future, the planned NEOM mega-city is one of the projects envisioned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. According to NEOM website info, it is one of the Crown Prince’s initiatives in reinvigorating and in diversifying Saudi’s economy. The total projected cost is $500 billion and will be funded by the government’s Public Investment Fund.

At the start, the NEOM project stirred excitement among members of the al-Huwaitat tribe because the government said the tribe will take part in the city’s development. It even included a projection that the tribe will become the most famous indigenous group in the world.

However, in January 2020, the Crown Prince had allegedly sent an emissary to speak with the al-Huwaitat tribe, giving them notice to leave their lands. In return, each family will accept compensation of $3,000. In Saudi Riyal the compensation is roughly equivalent to SR 11,000 only. Those who refuse will simply face eviction measures.

Film Making In Iran, Allowed Until Banned

Making films in Iran means a dance on the red line. It does not follow any laws, its rules change constantly.

The town of Lavasan is located east of Tehran on the slopes of the Albors Mountains. The taxi ride takes a good 30 minutes, the switchbacks run through a landscape of brown rocks. Lavasan used to be a village. The houses have few floors and red gabled roofs, there are also luxury villas, and because of the many maple trees, the air is better than in Tehran. Above all wealthy Iranians and artists live in Lavasan.

Weird Laws In Iran

One of them is the director Mani Haghighi. He lived in Canada for a long time and looks like George Clooney. His film The Arrival of a Dragon was screened in the Berlinale competition in 2016. A surreal thriller with powerful colors. In Iranian cinemas this year, Mani Haghighi made it into fourth place with the comedy “50 Kilos of Sour Cherries”, one of the most successful films in Iranian history.

Mani Haghighi: “The film starts at a wedding party. The police come and a young man and a young woman find themselves in a room. He only wears underwear and is arrested. Everyone thinks they had sex, even though we know that this is not true. The film has caused controversy here. The conservative press went crazy because they couldn’t believe there was a sex comedy going on in the cinema that was so explicit by Iranian standards. ”

During the interview, Mani Haghighi receives a message on her cell phone: There is a rumor that “50 kilos of sour cherries” are prohibited. And that is exactly what happens a few weeks later – however, the film is no longer shown in Iranian cinemas at the time. It remains a mystery why the authorities approve the script and the finished film and then ban it afterward. Maybe because he was so successful much like banning successful journalists who found a gold mine of information.

Making films in Iran means: working until further notice. Mani Haghighi is prepared

“I am always amazed at what they let through in my films and what they want to take out. I never understood the logic of censorship in Iran. What I do, and it’s no secret: I film things that I know are going to be taken out just to meet their need to cut something out. ”

Over 100 feature films are made in Iran every year, more than in many European countries. The Islamic Republic supports filmmakers with foundations and money. Even the “Ministry of Culture and Islamic Leadership” – responsible for censorship – does that. Of course, only films that do not cross the red lines. They are not written down anywhere, but everyone in the country knows or better: feels them. In addition to sex scenes, criticism of the country’s religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is taboo.

Iranian films often get awards at major festivals. Watch these top-notch films that will capture your interest in online or download it on your device through Keepvid downloader. This year the new film by Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi was shown in Cannes. A year earlier, Jafar Panahi brought the Golden Bear to the Berlinale with “Taxi Tehran”. He shows the paradox of Iranian cinema: Panahi is celebrated abroad, and at home, he is banned from working. Nevertheless, he continues to shoot – with a minimal budget, digital camera and in reasonably protected locations, in the house or in a taxi. He smuggles his films out of the country and is not allowed to give interviews.

Palestinian Journalists Protest Action Draws International Support from Social Media

Palestinian journalists have long been at the forefront in calling the world’s attention on how the Israeli occupation has resulted to abuse and agression by Israeli forces. However, many of those journalists were also among those who suffer as a result of such aggressions; from arrests to serious injury, and at worst, death.

The most recent incident of violence involved Muath Amarneh, a Palestinian photojournalist who took a hit in the eye from a shot taken by an Israeli sniper, while Amarneh was documenting Israeli soldiers in Israeli-occupied Hebron.

Although the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) issued a statement condemning Armameh’s shooting, the condemnation continued to fall on deaf ears as far as Israeli auhtorities are concerned. Even the sit-in protest against Armameh’s wounding held by Palestinian journalists in Bethlehem, did not escape the Israeli force’s abusive treatment.

As the PJS stated

“The Israeli forces’ aggression against Amarneh, only represents a part of a series of attacks launched by the occupation forces in order to suppress and prevent Palestinian journalists from covering Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian people.”

Even the Peaceful Sit-In Protest Was Not Spared from the Aggression

The sit-in solidarity protest saw dozens of activists and journalists coming from across Gaza and the West Bank, to show solidarity in voicing condemnation not only the violence committed against Amarneh but for many other journalists who were either injured or killed by Israeli forces in the past years.

Akram al-Waara, a Palestinian freelance reporter for Mondoweiss, told of how the Bethlehem sit-in protesters took to the streets with one eye covered to symbolize Amameh’s eye injury. However they were immediately dispersed when Israeli forces started firing tear gas. The sound bombs sent the crowd of protesters scampering for safety.

Akram added the Israeli forces not only suppressed the protest rather quickly but also and went after people, detaining a handful of them for several hours. Akram reported that any journalist filming the protest was a target.

Palestinian Journalists Turn to Social Media for Support

Unable to take their peaceful demonstrations to the streets, the protesters flooded social media sites with one-eyed photos of themselves. The collage of photographs came captioned as “We are All Muath.” Underneath was a brief explanation of the reason why they covered their eye with either their hand or with a patch is to highlight the result of an Israeli sniper’s intentional shooting of Amarne, who was at that time was documenting Israeli soldiers occupying Hebron.

The Palestinian social media post immediately drew the attention of international journalists particularly Activestills photographers, who joined the protest by posting similar one-eyed photos of themselves under the hashtags “The eye of the truth will not be shut” and “We are all Muath.”