Detained in Dubai has taken the case of two sisters from Saudi Arabia have fled to Turkey and are seeking asylum to escape a litany of abuses they allege to have suffered.
Dua and Dalal had posted short clips on Twitter appealing for help, saying that their father and brother are trying to chase them down in Turkey. The women claim to have been subjected to numerous human rights violations, including rape, sexual abuse, assault, and being forced into marriage against their will.
“When I learned of their situation, I contacted them via Twitter immediately, but their account was suspended before they could reply,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “In fact, Twitter has closed every new account they started. Fortunately, we were able to make contact, and are in touch. We have set up a Twitter account for them;@saveduadalal; and we hope Twitter will not again cave to what may be pressure from Saudi shareholders trying to silence Dua and Dalal’s pleas for help.”
The women’s Twitter accounts have been suspended 5 times so far, immediately upon posting of their plight. Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire, is the second largest shareholder in Twitter, and there are suspicions that Twitter is bowing to Saudi influence in this case. “It is possible that the suspensions were due to Dua and Dalal’s family lodging malicious complaints against the Twitter accounts,” Stirling explained, “I certainly hope that Twitter is not censoring the sisters’ story under pressure from Saudi shareholders.”
“They are young and scared, and believe that their relatives are now in Turkey trying to find them and force them back to Saudi Arabia,” Stirling said, “We will be bringing them to UNHCR to assist them with an asylum application.”
Detained in Dubai and Guernica 37 brought the case of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, daughter of the Ruler of Dubai, to the United Nations last year after her dramatic escape from the UAE and subsequent capture; and have been involved in numerous cases of women escaping abuse in the Gulf.
“The allegations made by Dua and Dalal are extremely serious, and are very much in line with what many women in the region have experienced,” Stirling said, “There is no question that their lives are in imminent danger if they are returned to Saudi Arabia. What they are doing takes tremendous courage, and they need and deserve our support.”
Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.
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