Saudi princesses plead for freedom
Gilded cageGilded cage

Saudi princesses plead for freedom

Four of King Abdullah's daughters are said to have been held in captivity for 13 years in the royal palace compound in Jeddah

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (photo credit: AP/Hassan Ammar/File)
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (photo credit: AP/Hassan Ammar/File)

A group of Saudi princesses has reportedly been held in captivity for the past 13 years in villas at the royal compound in Jeddah.

Two of the princesses, daughters of King Abdullah, have appealed for help from the The Sunday Times in emails and phone calls from their guarded home, the British newspaper reported.

Princesses Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, are being held together in one villa, while their sisters Hala, 39, and Maha, 41, are being held in solitary confinement in separate villas on the compound. All four sisters were reportedly placed under the control of three of their half-brothers, at the order of the king.

“We slowly watch each other fading into nothingness,” Sahar and Jawaher wrote to The Sunday Times in an email.

Their mother, who has long been divorced from the king and lives in London, has asked the UN to intervene on her daughters’ behalf.

Her daughters are “imprisoned, held against their will, cut off from the world,” Alanoud Alfayez wrote to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Hala’s condition deteriorates day by day and she is given no medical treatment, although there is a medical centre in the palace. She suffers from serious anorexia and psychological problems. After two years without any contact with me, she was able to telephone me and told me she wanted to die.” Alfayez said in her letter.

The human rights agency promised last week to pass Alfayez’s letter to the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, according to the Times report.

Sahar said the princesses fell out of favor with their father after they complained to the king about poverty in Saudi Arabia. The women were reportedly also criticized for their party-going lifestyle.

“We lived our lives openly and that is why they hated us,” Sahar said. “Our ‘vices’, or lifestyle, was normal for youngsters.”

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