Amnesty International says the sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been detained, describing her arrest as “damning proof” of the kingdom’s human rights violations.
Samar Badawi was arrested with her two-year-old daughter in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Tuesday and questioned by police for four hours before being transferred to Dhaban prison, the human rights organization said in a statement.
“The arrest… is the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent,” the statement added.
Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, wrote on her Twitter page that Samar’s arrest was related to her alleged role in managing a Twitter account campaigning for the release of her ex-husband, Waleed Abulkhair. A lawyer and human rights activist, Abulkhair is serving a 15-year jail sentence.
The arrest “demonstrates the extreme lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silent submission,” said Philip Luther, the Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International.
Raif Badawi, 31, was detained in 2012 for criticizing the Saudi regime. He received 50 lashes in a public square in Jeddah in January last year as the first part of his 1,000-flogging sentence.
Amnesty International staff hold portraits of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and Saudi rights activist Waleed Abulkhair as they demonstrate in front of the Saudi embassy in the German capital, Berlin, January 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
International rights bodies have criticized Saudi Arabia for its grim human rights record, arguing that widespread violations continue unabated in the country.
On Saturday, Amnesty International voiced concern over the imprisonment and abuse of peaceful human rights defenders and activists by the Saudi regime under the pretext of ‘fighting terrorism.’
“More and more human rights defenders are being sentenced to years in prison under Saudi Arabia’s 2014 counter-terror law, while its allies shamelessly back the kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror,’” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
He added that dozens of prisoners of conscience remain in jail “at the risk of suffering cruel punishments and ill-treatment for their peaceful activism.”