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Home News Saudi investigates alleged violent raid on orphanage

Saudi investigates alleged violent raid on orphanage

Published on 31/08/2022
Published from AFP.com

Saudi officials have launched a probe after footage circulated on social media appearing to show security forces beating girls at an orphanage.

The government of the southern province of Asir said in a statement early Wednesday it would form a committee “to investigate the incident”, without offering details.

Video clips shared widely on social media showed uniformed police and plainclothes officials conducting what appeared to be a raid of the orphanage in the city of Khamis Mushait.

The officers drag one girl on the ground before handcuffing her and beating her with a belt.

Another girl has handcuffs placed on her feet before being flogged.

The clips were posted on Twitter on Tuesday night and had been viewed nearly a million times by Wednesday afternoon.

The original post was from a Twitter user who claimed to be living at the orphanage, but this could not be confirmed and messages sent by AFP to the account on Wednesday went unanswered.

Orphanages in Saudi Arabia are overseen by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional information about the incident.

AFP could not independently verify the videos.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has earned some plaudits for expanding women’s rights, notably by making it possible for women to drive and relaxing so-called guardianship rules.

Such reforms, however, have been accompanied by a crackdown on women’s rights activists, part of a broader campaign against dissent.

The National Assembly Party, a Saudi opposition party composed of dissidents exiled in Britain, the US and elsewhere, on Wednesday joined the online outcry over the clips, saying on Twitter it “condemns the vicious attacks” and calling for an investigation.

The party said it “demands the protection of girls in shelters and orphanages in order let them exercise their basic rights”.