Allegations of Lethal Force Mar Construction of Saudi Arabia’s Neom Project

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan for a futuristic eco-city faces serious accusations of human rights violations. A former intelligence officer, Colonel Rabih Alenezi, told the BBC that authorities authorized the use of lethal force to clear land for Neom’s “The Line” megacity.

Alenezi, who now lives in exile, claims he was ordered to evict villagers from the Huwaitat tribe residing in the designated area. He alleges the eviction order included a chilling directive: “whoever continues to resist [eviction] should be killed.” Alenezi refused the mission but says the eviction proceeded regardless. The BBC reports that one villager was shot dead during the clearance.

The Saudi government and Neom management have declined to comment on these allegations. The Huwaitat tribe has reportedly inhabited the Tabuk region for generations. Their displacement for the construction project has been a source of tension, with some members previously protesting the eviction.

Neom, envisioned as a beacon of sustainable urban development, has attracted investment from numerous Western companies. These accusations, however, cast a shadow on the project’s ethics and raise concerns about potential human rights abuses. The international community will likely be following developments closely, with pressure to ensure the project respects the rights of indigenous people.


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