More women's rights activists arrested as Saudi crackdown continues

  • More women's rights activists arrested as Saudi crackdown continues

More women's rights activists arrested as Saudi crackdown continues

Authorities in Saudi Arabia detained several women's rights activists who campaigned for women's driving rights just weeks before the country is set to lift the ban on women driving.

A second activist told AFP the arrests were a wake-up call for those who thought the 32-year-old crown prince would allow for a genuine opening.

But "unless there is ironclad evidence against these women", Haykel warns, the arrests and trials "do not inspire confidence in the West that the country is headed in the right direction".

He said he has chose to release all those proven not guilty and others who had agreed financial settlements with the government after admitting to corruption allegations.

"Amnesty International is extremely concerned following reports that yet more individuals and activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia".

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, drew worldwide plaudits past year when they announced the ban on female drivers would end on June 24. It is, however, a new Saudi Arabia that many Saudis are celebrating and that world leaders have embraced.

Perhaps to head off talk of assassination, a palace courtier last week released a photo of bin Salman along with King Hamad of Bahrain, President Sisi of Egypt and Abu Dhabi ruler Mohammed bin Zayed, which was allegedly taken recently.

"This arrest campaign is an arrest campaign against feminism in Saudi", said one female activist who knows some of those detained.

Yet observers say that these arrests are not spur of the moment, given that shortly after the announcement of the lifting of the ban, numerous detained activists were ordered by authorities not to comment in the press.

Acknowledging the arrests of seven activists last week, the Saudi government accused them of suspicious contacts with foreign entities and offering financial support to "enemies overseas" while warning they would identify others involved. Saudi activists say at least four other women's rights defenders have also been arrested since May 15, 2018, bringing the total suspected number of detainees to at least 11.

Saudi authorities detained al-Hathloul, 28, in November 2014, as she attempted to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates while live-streaming to bring global attention to the issue.

I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to Ms.al-Hathloul about her dreams for a different Saudi Arabia. They were mostly women, but also included three men.

In recent years, she has been cautious about voicing her opinion on Twitter out of concern over a growing crackdown on rights advocates.

Saudi Arabia has released veteran women's rights activist Aisha al-Manea.

She said veteran campaigners were already wary of the crown prince's feted reforms, because they came in parallel to an "aggressive" foreign policy in neighbouring Yemen and the wider region. In 1980, she became one of the first Saudi women to obtain a Ph.D., also in the U.S.

Just hours after the announcement that the driving ban would be lifted in September, women who had campaigned for that right were called and asked not to comment publicly - even positively.

Al-Yousef, 60, is a retired professor of computer science at King Saud University, and a leading activist in the longstanding campaign against the male guardianship system. I think a lot of the goal of the façade was to placate forces outside of Saudi Arabia and not really for the Saudi people themselves, " he told RT.

The government-sanctioned press branded them "traitors" and even raised the prospect of the death penalty should the charges be upheld.