Amnesty: ‘Heartbreaking’ anniversary marks two-year detention of women human rights defenders


May 14,2020

Amnesty International is calling on King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to release several notable women’s rights defenders, two years after they were detained.

On 15 May 2018, a number of prominent Saudi women’s human rights activists were arrested. They had been peacefully advocating for years for the right of women in the kingdom to drive, as well as broader reforms related to the repressive male guardianship system.

In the days and weeks that followed, more of their fellow peaceful activists were detained as part of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown and smear campaign.

“It is heartbreaking that two years have now passed with these brave women still behind bars, especially as during this time Saudi women have been enjoying some of the newfound rights they had fought so hard for,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

“In prison, many suffered mental and physical anguish – including torture, sexual abuse and solitary confinement. Scores of others, though released, still face trial based on charges relating to their peaceful activism.

“It is time the Saudi Arabian leadership stopped using the judiciary as a Damocles sword hanging above activists’ heads. Saudi Arabia’s ‘reform drive’ cannot be considered credible as long as these women and other peaceful activists are still being targeted for their work.”

Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders solely detained in connection with their peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression, association and assembly.