November 20, 2018
Several Saudi Arabian activists, including a number of women, who have been arbitrarily detained without charge since May 2018 in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahban Prison, have reportedly faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation, Amnesty International said today.
According to three separate testimonies obtained by the organization, the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one reported instance, one of the activists was made to hang from the ceiling, and according to another testimony, one of the detained women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, by interrogators wearing face masks.
“Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.
“Saudi authorities are directly responsible for the wellbeing of these women and men in detention. Not only have they been deprived them of their liberty for months now, simply for peacefully expressing their views, they are also subjecting them to horrendous physical suffering”.
According to the testimonies obtained, the human rights defenders were unable to walk or stand properly, had uncontrolled shaking of the hands, and marks on the body. One of the activists reportedly attempted to take her own life repeatedly inside the prison.
Those detained in Dhahban Prison include Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Mohammad al-Rabe’a and Dr Ibrahim al-Modeimigh.
Several other activists were detained in the ensuing months and remain in detention without charge. These include women’s rights activists Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya’a al-Zahran, as well as activists who had already been persecuted for their human rights work in the past, such as Mohammed al-Bajadi and Khalid al-Omeir, as well as Hatoon al-Fassi, a prominent women’s rights activist and academic, was also reportedly detained shortly after the lifting of the driving ban. Last week, Hatoon al-Fassi recieved the Middle East Studies Association Academic Freedom Award, which was awarded in her absence at the association’s annual meeting.
N.B.: Dr. Ibrahim al-Modeimigh is a human rights lawyer.