Saudi Arabia detains two more women’s rights activists: HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Saudi Arabia has recently arrested two more women’s rights advocates as part of an ongoing campaign to silence the dissidents.
The New York-based rights group said on Wednesday that Saudi authorities had taken into custody activists Nouf Abdelaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani on June 6 and 10, respectively, and both are now being held incommunicado.
Abdelaziz had expressed solidarity with three women’s rights activists detained in May, along with at least 14 other campaigners and supporters, HRW said.
It also noted that Zahrani was arrested after she posted a letter online that Abdelaziz had asked her to publish in case of her detention. In the letter, Abdelaziz stressed that she had committed no crimes.
“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 HRW.
She also emphasized that the two Saudi activists’ “only ‘crime’ seems to be expressing solidarity with their fellow imprisoned activists.”
The recent Saudi crackdown on women’s rights advocates comes days before the kingdom lifts the decades-long driving ban on women on June 24.
Whitson said, “There can be no real celebration on June 24 while the women who campaigned for the right to drive and their supporters remain behind bars.”
“It is imperative for Saudi Arabia’s Western allies to speak out in solidarity with the detained activists and to pressure the Saudi authorities to unconditionally release those detained for their work as human rights activists before they are referred for trial,” she added.
A new UN report blasts Saudi Arabia for torturing those arrested on terror-related charges and persecuting those exercising free speech.
Earlier this month, a UN report blasted the Riyadh regime for persecuting those exercising free speech, saying reports of the kingdom’s so-called liberalization efforts are “completely wide of the mark.”
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed the first in line to the Saudi throne by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, last June.
Since then, he has engaged in a string of radical economic and social projects in a bid to portray himself as “reformist.” But those projects have been widely seen as being more about consolidating his personal power rather than bringing about real change to Saudi Arabia.