Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia/AI: Women now allowed to drive, but more reforms must follow

June 21, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive is welcome but must now be followed by more reforms to women’s rights, Amnesty International said today.

This weekend (Sunday 24 June) women will be allowed to drive in the country as the controversial driving ban is lifted.

However, leading women’s rights activists and campaigners against the driving ban – including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef – are among eight activists still being detained in Saudi Arabia for their peaceful human rights work. Some have been detained without charge for more than one month, and may face trial before the counter-terror court and up to 20 years in prison for their activism.

The women’s rights activists detained have campaigned for the right to drive and the end of the repressive male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia for many years.

Under Saudi Arabia’s repressive guardianship system, women and girls face systematic discrimination, both in law and in practice. Women are unable to travel, engage in paid work or higher education, or marry without the permission of a male guardian. In addition, Saudi Arabian women married to foreign nationals cannot pass on their nationality to their children, unlike Saudi Arabian men in a similar situation.

Chilling effect of recent smear campaign

The latest crackdown on women’s rights activists comes despite Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presenting himself as a ‘reformer’. His international public relations campaign contrasts sharply with an intensifying crackdown on dissenting voices, including those campaigning for equal rights for women.

On 19 May, the Saudi Arabian authorities and government-aligned media launched a public smear campaign to try to discredit five prominent detained women’s rights defenders as “traitors” following their arrest. Official statements in state media accused the activists and other individuals of forming a “cell” and posing a threat to state security for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric”.










https://www.rtbf.be/tendance/detente/detail_arabie-saoudite-apres-la-fin-de-l-interdiction-des-femmes-au-volant-dans-les-rues-de-ryad?id=9954502 (FRANCAIS)

https://magazin.zenith.me/de/presseschau/verhaftung-von-aktivisten-saudi-arabien (DEUTSCH)


Saudi Arabia: Unrelenting Crackdown on Activists

June 20, 2018

Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 12, 2018. © 2018 Reuters

Saudi authorities have arrested two more women’s rights activists in recent days in what appears to be an unrelenting crackdown on the women’s rights movement, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi activists have reported that the authorities have placed travel bans on numerous others since May 15.


On June 6, Saudi authorities arrested the writer and activist Nouf Abdelaziz, who had publicly expressed solidarity with three women’s rights activists arrested in May, along with at least 14 other activists and supporters. On June 10, the authorities arrested Mayaa al-Zahrani, an activist and friend of Abdelaziz, after she reportedly posted a letter Abdelaziz asked her to make public in case of her arrest. In the letter, addressed to her fellow Saudis, Abdelaziz explained who she was, stressing that she committed no crime: “I am not a provoker, not a vandalizer, not a terrorist, a criminal or a traitor… I have never been [anything] but a good citizen who loves her country and wishes for it nothing but the best.” Both women are being held incommunicado.
“The Saudi government appears determined to leave its citizens without any space to show even rhetorical support for activists jailed in this unforgiving crackdown on dissent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Nouf Abdelaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani’s only ‘crime’ seems to be expressing solidarity with their fellow imprisoned activists.”
On June 4, the local newspaper Okaz reported that nine detained activists, four women and five men, will soon be referred to the Specialized Criminal Court, which was originally established to try detainees held in connection with terrorism offenses, to be tried for committing three “serious” crimes: “cooperating with entities hostile to the kingdom,” “recruiting persons in a sensitive government agency to obtain confidential information to harm the interests of the kingdom,” and “providing financial and moral support to hostile elements abroad.”


Okaz earlier reported that, 15 days into the activists’ detention, an investigating body had announced that all nine detainees had confessed to the latter two accusations. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.
Among those arrested are the prominent women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef; Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a lawyer; Mohammad al-Rabea, an activist; and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal, a philanthropist. They face charges similar to those against several imprisoned activists currently serving lengthy prison terms, including Waleed Abu al-KhairFadil al-Manasif, and Nadhir al-Majed. Immediately following their arrest, in a coordinated campaign, local media outlets publicly accused those detained of treason.









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http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2018/06/23/des-defenseurs-saoudiens-des-droits-des-femmes-derriere-les-barreaux_1661391 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.estrepublicain.fr/actualite/2018/06/23/arabie-plusieurs-militants-des-droits-des-femmes-arretes (FRANCAIS)

https://www.elconfidencial.com/mundo/2018-05-23/arabia-saudi-represion-mujeres-prohibiciones_1568058/ (ESPANOL)


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Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia women ‘arrested’ in ongoing crackdown on activists

June 10, 2018

UK-based human rights group says Mayaa al-Zahrani and Nouf Abdelaziz al-Jerawi detained this week by Saudi authorities.

2 More Female Activists Arrested in Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities have arrested two more women’s rights activist in the last three days, according to a human rights group.

ALQST, a UK-based rights group focusing on Saudi Arabia, said Mayaa al-Zahrani was detained on Saturday for a social media post in support of Nouf Abdulaziz al-Jerawi, a fellow activist arrested on Wednesday when security forces raided her home.

Al-Zahrani had also posted an article written by al-Jerawi, where the latter clarified her role as volunteering to help the oppressed by putting them in contact with lawyers and human rights groups.

“Why am I considered as an enemy of the state that threatens its security?” al-Jerawi wrote in a post that has been widely circulated.

ALQST described the detention of the two women as part of “the ongoing arrests of activists”.

“We believe the Saudi authorities are keen to suppress all activists, and all sympathy with them,” the rights group said.

The arrests were also reported by Prisoners of Conscience, a rights group that documents the arrests of Saudi nationals.

Last month, the government announced that a number of activists were being held for having suspicious contacts with foreign entities, as well as offering financial support to “foreign enemies”.

Other suspects were being sought, the government said at the time, while state-linked media labelled those arrested as traitors and “agents of embassies”.

Eight of the 17 detained activists, including five women, were later temporarily released“until the completion of their procedural review”.

None of the activists have yet been officially charged, and remain incommunicado with no access to their families or lawyers.







Saudi Arabia: Crackdown on Saudi women human rights defenders sets off alarms

June 6, 2018

Over 30 human rights groups call for their immediate release

The undersigned human rights groups call on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders arrested in the past two weeks who were detained solely for their support of women’s rights or other peaceful human rights work in Saudi Arabia. We further call on the authorities to immediately reveal their whereabouts, allow them access to their families and lawyers of their choice, hold investigations in a transparent manner, and adhere to fair trial international legal standards; while we believe that all charges against them must be dropped and they should be immediately released. We are particularly alarmed that some of those arrested could be sentenced to prison for their peaceful and legitimate human rights work, including their decades-long campaigning to lift the driving ban – ironically barely a month before the authorities are set to finally lift it and enable women in the country to drive legally.

The undersigned groups know of at least 12 named human rights defenders whom Saudi authorities arrested in Saudi Arabia since 15 May 2018. They include advocates and supporters of the #Oct26driving, #Right2Drive and #IAmMyOwnGuardian campaigns who dared to speak openly about human rights violations in the country and are critical of state discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia. State media outlets have publicly declared seven women’s rights defenders and supporters of the women’s rights movement as traitors, including Loujain Al-Hathloul, a well-known women’s rights defender on social media who was arrested on 15 May; Dr. Eman Al-Nafjan, founder and author of the Saudiwoman’s Weblog, who had previously protested the driving ban; Aziza Al-Yousef, a prominent campaigner for women’s rights; Dr. Ibrahim Al-Modaimegh, a lawyer and human rights defender; writer Mohammad Al-RabeaAbdulaziz Al-Mesha’albusinessman and board member of a women’s rights NGO; and an unnamed man. The state media also announced the arrest of Ibrahim Fahad Al-Nafjan.

Saudi human rights defenders also confirmed the arrest of four other women’s rights defenders who have since been released, including Dr. Aisha Al-ManaeDr. Hessa Al-Sheikh and Dr. Madeha Al-Ajroush, who had taken part in the first women’s protest movement demanding the right to drive in 1990. At the time, 47 women had been arrested for driving and had lost their passports and their jobs. The arrests and subsequent release also included that of Walaa Al-Shubbar, a young activist well-known for her campaigning against the guardianship system. They are all academics and professionals who supported women’s rights and provided assistance to survivors of gender-based violence. On 23 May, Dr. Aisha Al-Manae was released from custody, possibly due to illness. Two days later, the Saudi authorities also released Dr. Hessa Al-Sheikh, Dr. Madeha Al-Ajroush, and Walaa Al-Shubbar. The conditions of their release remain unknown. Saudi authorities have since arrested Mohammad Al-Bajadi, a human rights defender and founding member of the Civil and Political Rights Association in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA).




https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1882 (ARABIC)

https://magazin.zenith.me/de/presseschau/verhaftung-von-aktivisten-saudi-arabien (DEUTSCH)

Saudi Arabia/Canada: Detainment of activists brings Saudi-Canadian relationship into question

June 1, 2018

Loujain Al-Hathloul, who was detained alongside several other women’s rights activists by the Saudi Arabian government, is known for posting videos of herself driving to protest the country’s ban on women drivers.

The detainment of former University of British Columbia student and women’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul could put a damper on Canada-Saudi Arabian relations, say legal experts.

Irwin Cotler, a human rights lawyer and former federal justice minister, says the arrest of Al-Hathloul and the current Saudi human rights record bring into question the reformist message of the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the very basis of international trade agreements the country has with Canada.

Gail Davidson, executive director of Vancouver-based Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, described Saudi Arabia’s recent human rights message as “completely false,” and said Canada’s current trade relationship with Saudi Arabia is surprising given the circumstances. She referred to the takeover of the Canadian Wheat Board by a Saudi company, as well as the $15-billion armed vehicles purchase.

“Knowing about their human rights record, I’m surprised at the relationship that Canada has with Saudi Arabia, and the extent to which they have become powerful in Canadian affairs,” she said.








https://www.lemonde.fr/big-browser/article/2018/06/01/une-princesse-saoudienne-posant-au-volant-d-une-voiture-en-une-de-vogue-cree-la-polemique_5308430_4832693.html?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1527875752 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.nzz.ch/international/saudiarabien-nimmt-frauenrechtlerinnen-fest-und-erklaert-sie-zu-spionen-ld.1387406 (DEUTSCH)

Saudi Arabia/Canada: ‘She is in danger’: Lawyers, activists call for action to free Loujain al-Hathloul

May 31, 2018

Human rights lawyers and activists are urging the public to put pressure on the federal and Saudi Arabian government to free women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, out of fears she could be jailed for years.

Al-Hathloul, a former University of British Columbia student, was detained by Saudi Arabian officials alongside several other prominent human rights advocates, in what many experts are calling a crackdown on activism in the country. Multiple human rights organizations and the president of UBC have released statements calling for their release.

Former UBC student Loujain Al-Hathloul has been detained in Saudi Arabia for her work as a women's rights activist. Lawyers and activist in Canada are concerned because if she is formally charged, she could remain in jail for years, like activist Raif Badawi.

“Time is not on our side,” said Jackie Hansen, women’s rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada. “We want to make sure they’re released because if they’re charged, it makes it that much harder to secure their release from detention.”

Al-Hathloul has been an outspoken women’s rights advocate for years, and is known for posting videos online of herself driving, in protest of Saudi Arabia’s ban on driving for women. While the government has loosened their restrictions on women by overturning their driving ban, Hansen said the arrests are a message that “activism will not be tolerated.”

Gail Davidson, executive director of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, which is preparing their own letter calling for Al-Hathloul’s release, said that Canada’s ties to Saudi Arabia, specifically a $15 billion contract to provide combat vehicles signed in 2016, could be used to her advantage.

“Canada had been very cozy with Saudi Arabia, so people that are wanting to lobby and appeal should put pressure on global affairs, and the prime minister,” she said.

In an email statement, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Brittany Venhola-Fletcher said Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland has already alerted Saudi officials to their human rights record, and tweeted about the arrest of the women’s rights activists.

“Minister Freeland has raised Canada’s human rights concerns with her Saudi counterpart during her recent trip to Bangladesh. Canada will continue to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, both at home and abroad,” Venhola-Fletcher said.

But Davidson fears that al-Hathoul will face a similar fate to other people with Canadian connections detained in Saudi Arabia, such as blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife and children were granted asylum in Canada, and human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was defending Badawi. Both men are still in prison, despite many calls from international organizations for their release.




Rally held in support of former UBC student being held in Saudi jail for advocating women's rights




UBC president pens letter to Ottawa to help alumna jailed in Saudi Arabia






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https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2018/05/saudi-arabia-another-activist-arrested-as-crackdown-continues/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.amnesty.fr/discriminations/actualites/arabie-droit-de-conduire-des-femmes-une-militante-persecutee (FRANCAIS)

https://victoriadroit.com/blog/ubc-president-stylos-lettre-a-ottawa-pour-aider-ancienne-emprisonne-en-arabie-saoudite/11864/ (FRANCAIS)

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https://www.es.amnesty.org/actua/acciones/arabia-libertad-mujeres-conductoras-may18/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elperiodico.com/es/internacional/20180525/campana-arrestos-arabia-saudi-contra-activistas-derechos-mujer-6839087 (ESPANOL)

https://tg24.sky.it/mondo/2018/05/31/arabia-saudita-donne-guida-proteste.html (ITALIANO)

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/saudi-arabien-mohammed-bin-salman-laesst-feministinnen-verhaften-a-1209714.html (DEUTSCH)

https://magazin.zenith.me/de/presseschau/verhaftung-von-aktivisten-saudi-arabien (DEUTSCH)

Pro-government media outlets splashed the activists' photos online and in newspapers after thye were arrested, branding them 'traitors' for their supposed crimes


Saudi Arabia: Saudis Free Three Women’s Rights Activists as Others Remain Held, Sources Say

May 24, 2018

Saudi authorities released three women’s rights activists who were detained last week in a crackdown that drew condemnation from international human rights groups, according to two people with knowledge of the matter and an Amnesty International official.

Madeha Alajroush, Hessah Alsheikh and Aisha Al-Mana have been freed, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East campaign director, confirmed the release on Twitter.

Other activists including Aziza Alyousef, Eman AlNafjan and Loujain Alhathloul, along with lawyer Ibrahim Al Modaimigh, remain in custody, the people said. The government’s Center for International Communication did not respond to a request for comment.

Saudi Arabia detained at least nine women and men in a move seen targeting government critics even as authorities take steps to ease social restrictions in the conservative kingdom. The government plans to end a longstanding ban on women driving next month, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to open up Saudi Arabia’s economy and society.














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