'My daughters are under home arrest for already 12 years' - former wife of King of Saudi Arabia
For more than 10 years, Princess Alanoud has been deprived of the right to see her daughters. Since 2001, their father, the King of Saudi Arabia, has been in fact keeping them under home arrest. In an interview that she gave exclusively to the Voice of Russia, Princess Anud accused the world's media of a "conspiracy of silence" against her situation that can hardly be called a normal one for the 21st century.
The former wife of the incumbent King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Alanoud Alfayez , comes from a noble Jordanian family. After divorcing the King, she still preserves the title of Princess of Saudi Arabia. But in 2003, when she was already divorced, Ms. Alfayez was made to leave Saudi Arabia. At present, she lives in London.
Her Highness says that after the divorce, her life turned into a nightmare. Her daughters' destiny is worrying her so much that she cannot think about anything else. Several times during her interview, Her Highness couldn't help crying.
Your daughters are under home arrest for 12 years already. The world's media sources do not give any comments concerning this situation. The Voice of Russia does not ask you any concrete question, letting you to say whatever you want.
True, my daughters are under home arrest for already 12 years. This is the will of their father, the King of Saudi Arabia, and his sons. Within all this time, all that still gives me the strength to live is hope that once my daughters will be free and happy again. At present, they cannot even marry. For as long as 12 years, I have been waiting for their father to express an even slightest human feeling towards them, but this doesn't happen. I have sent letters to the UN and to various international human rights organizations but have not got any answer yet.
Do you have any information about the conditions your daughters are living in?
Within the last several years, their health considerably worsened. Two of them are in a very poor condition, they often get ill. They are living in a large castle in the city of Jeddah, but in full isolation from the rest of the world, like in a prison. They don't even have anyone to serve them. You know that in Saudi Arabia, a woman just cannot make a single step if she is alone.
(In Saudi Arabia, a woman cannot even walk out of the house if she is not accompanied by a man.)
They are left totally alone, without any help. There are even no air conditioners in the castle. I cannot assess it any other way than as a psychological war against my daughters. I am sorry that I cannot tell you any more details, because every time I speak about the way my daughters are being treat, I begin to cry.
Do you have any opportunity to communicate with your daughters in any way?
Yes, I can speak with them over the phone – their father still allows me to do this to show the world how democratic he is. He prefers to depict the situation as if he has nothing against my coming to Saudi Arabia and living with my daughters, but, allegedly, I do not want this myself – although, in reality, this is vice versa. It is King Abdulla and his brothers who do not want me to communicate with my daughters. They have led a psychological war against me and threated me with all kinds of threats until I left Saudi Arabia. It has turned out that they have prohibited to all embassies in the world to prolong my passport. The King's family has even managed to prohibit Jordan (Ms. al-Faiz is a citizen of Jordan) to prolong my Jordanian passport so that I cannot go back to my country.
Do you believe that the world's media sources are distorting or hiding the truth about the four princesses who are under home arrest?
Not as much distorting the truth as just ignoring this story. When my former husband started this "war" against my daughters, I came to London and hired British and American lawyers to help me. But agents of the Saudi King have bribed them, and the lawyers in fact braked my case and didn't let it enter the international level. I tried to find other lawyers – but found myself in total isolation. Nobody wanted to defend the interests of my daughters.
The world community and, first of all, the UN, says that within the last several years, the situation with women's rights in Saudi Arabia considerably improved. How can you comment on that in connection with your situation?
Unfortunately, the power of money sometimes makes the world community make wrong conclusions. In Saudi Arabia, women still occupy the lowest places in the society. Last year, Saudi Arabia signed a treaty with the UN on protection of women's rights. However, in reality, the Saudi authorities are totally ignoring this treaty.
Would you like to say something to listeners of the Voice of Russia or to the world?
Let me address the entire world. My four daughters are under home arrest, and I cannot call this any other way than a humanitarian catastrophe. In fact, my daughters are slowly dying. I realize that this is a very strong accusation against my ex-husband and his brothers, but I am saying this with full responsibility. My daughters' health is already totally ruined. (starts to cry) This situation cannot be ignored any more. Within all these 12 years, my life has been nothing but never-ending suffering. Imagine what you would have felt if your children were in trouble, you were crying for help but nobody heard you.