An Indian migrant worker who made an emotional plea on social media about his working conditions in Saudia Arabia has been jailed, according to activists.
Abdul Sattar Makandar, a truck driver, made a video which shows him crying in desperation about his situation.
Human rights activists now fear for his life.
In his video, Mr Makandar says: "I have been in Saudi Arabia for the last 23 months, and have applied for leave to come home over five months ago.
“But my employer is not letting me go home... My employer doesn't give me a proper salary, neither does he give me money for food," he alleged, according to the Huffington Post India.
Mr Srivastava said he later took down the post - which had since been posted widely elsewhere - and apologised to the engineering and construction company, Al Suroor United Group, after approaches from the firm's legal representatives.
He said Mr Makandar has now been jailed having been initially arrested under a Saudi law which prevents "spreading misinformation" on social media.
However, his uncertain status and limited contact with the outside world has greatly concerned activists.
“He is still in jail, his life is in danger,” Mr Srivastava told The Independent.
He said he had been in recent contact with Mr Makandar and also visited his family.
Mr Srivastava, who claimed he was working without help from the Indian government, also said Mr Makandar had not been charged with any crime.
“I urge the Government, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, PMO India Narendra Modi to help Abdul Sattar Makandar to come back to India,” Mr Srivastava continued.
“His life is in danger and being Indian, we have a responsibility to help him. I would also like to request that every human being and media to come forward and support us.”
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
In October 2014, three lawyers, Dr Abdulrahman al-Subaihi, Bander al-Nogaithan and Abdulrahman al-Rumaih , were sentenced to up to eight years in prison for using Twitter to criticize the Ministry of Justice.
In March 2015, Yemen’s Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was forced into exile after a Shia-led insurgency. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition has responded with air strikes in order to reinstate Mr Hadi. It has since been accused of committing war crimes in the country.
Women who supported the Women2Drive campaign, launched in 2011 to challenge the ban on women driving vehicles, faced harassment and intimidation by the authorities. The government warned that women drivers would face arrest.
Members of the Kingdom’s Shia minority, most of whom live in the oil-rich Eastern Province, continue to face discrimination that limits their access to government services and employment. Activists have received death sentences or long prison terms for their alleged participation in protests in 2011 and 2012.
All public gatherings are prohibited under an order issued by the Interior Ministry in 2011. Those defy the ban face arrest, prosecution and imprisonment on charges such as “inciting people against the authorities”.
In March 2014, the Interior Ministry stated that authorities had deported over 370,000 foreign migrants and that 18,000 others were in detention. Thousands of workers were returned to Somalia and other states where they were at risk of human rights abuses, with large numbers also returned to Yemen, in order to open more jobs to Saudi Arabians. Many migrants reported that prior to their deportation they had been packed into overcrowded makeshift detention facilities where they received little food and water and were abused by guards.
The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to deny access to independent human rights organisations like Amnesty International, and they have been known to take punitive action, including through the courts, against activists and family members of victims who contact Amnesty.
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for using his liberal blog to criticise Saudi Arabia’s clerics. He has already received 50 lashes, which have reportedly left him in poor health.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images
Dawood al-Marhoon was arrested aged 17 for participating in an anti-government protest. After refusing to spy on his fellow protestors, he was tortured and forced to sign a blank document that would later contain his ‘confession’. At Dawood’s trial, the prosecution requested death by crucifixion while refusing him a lawyer.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 aged either 16 or 17 for participating in protests during the Arab spring. His sentence includes beheading and crucifixion. The international community has spoken out against the punishment and has called on Saudi Arabia to stop. He is the nephew of a prominent government dissident.
The Al Suroor United Group denied Mr Makandar’s claims, saying all workers were entitled leave after two years’ service and that he was six weeks away from this, the BBC reported.
The Mumbai recruitment agency which hired Mr Makandar, Discomb Gulf Travels, told the BBC they have seen bank statements that showed he was paid on time and that he should have come to them for help before making the video.
The conditions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have been criticised by rights groups, who have cited mistreatment, withheld wages, restricted movements and poor living and working conditions.
In October 2015, Kasturi Munirathinam, who working as a maid, had her arm cut off by her Saudi employer, leading to calls from some Indians to end the supply of migrant workers to the country.
Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are subject the Kafala sponsorship system, which severely limits their rights.
The Kafala system “grants employers’ excessive power over workers and facilitates abuse,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Under the system, it is very difficult for workers to change jobs or leave the country without the permission of their employers.
"We have consistently seen migrant workers too scared to speak out because of reprisals from employers, such as refusing to give an exit permit, not paying wages that are due, or cancelling residency permits," James Lynch, Amnesty International deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, told the BBC.
However, activists welcomed legislative changes in October 2015 intended to hold companies to fairer standards.
Al Suroor United Group and Discomb Gulf Travels had not responded to Independent requests for comment at the time of publishing.
Abdul Sattar Makandar has now been released from jail.
In a post on Facebook, Mr Srivastava wrote: "Yesterday Indian Embassy (Riyadh) met to Abdul Sattar Makandar in Jail.
"I just received a call from Abdul Sattar Makandar that he has been released from Jail at 6:00 PM now. Today he was happy and was saying thanks from the heart to all the well wishers who are praying for him."Reuse content