Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul’s trial moved to terror courtroom | Saudi Arabia
The defender of women’s rights was arrested in May 2018 weeks before a decade-long driving ban for women drivers was lifted.
Saudi Arabia has rescheduled the trial of well-known women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, according to her family, to a court for terrorist crimes.
Al-Hathloul, a prominent women’s rights activist, was arrested along with about a dozen other activists in May 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted a decade-long ban on women drivers. She went on a hunger strike for a few weeks in October to protest her detention conditions.
The detained activist, who appeared in court on Wednesday, “looked weak” and “her body was shaking uncontrollably and her voice was weak and shaky,” her sister Lina al-Hathloul said in a Twitter post.
Regarding Loujain’s health, she looked weak in court, her body was trembling uncontrollably, and her voice was weak and shaky. https://t.co/lMeXNEXg6l
– Lina Alhathloul (@LinaAlhathloul) November 25, 2020
Wednesday’s session resulted in her case being transferred for “incompetence” by the criminal court, which has been handling the case since March 2019.
“It is incomprehensible that after such a long time they discover that the dish is not specialized. Loujain still has no evidence to support the charge. It will be almost three years before she remains in custody and should be released, ”said Lina al-Hathloul.
“Not a criminal”
UK-based human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday that al-Hathloul should be released “immediately and unconditionally”.
“Today the world will be watching. If Saudi Arabia wants to balance the rhetoric of progress with action, it should be #FreeLoujain immediately and unconditionally, ”the group posted on Twitter.
Amnesty’s Gulf branch reported that al-Hathloul had ended their hunger strike two weeks after it began.
“The guards woke her up every two hours day and night as a brutal tactic to break her,” Amnesty said on Twitter. “Yet it is anything but broken.”
. @ LoujainHathloul said she ended her hunger strike two weeks after the strike started on October 26th as the guards woke her up every two hours day and night to brutally break it.
Yet it is anything but broken. # FreeLoujain # UnmuteSaudiVoices
– Amnesty Gulf (@amnestygulf) November 25, 2020
Some of the activists arrested with al-Hathloul have been provisionally released, while others remain in detention in what activists termed “opaque” trials on charges of exposure to foreign media, diplomats and human rights groups.
The detained activists also called for an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system, which requires women to seek the consent of a male relative to make important decisions. Some rules have been relaxed, but this system has yet to be removed.
The Saudi government media has branded al-Hathloul and others as “traitors” and her family has alleged that she experienced sexual harassment and torture, including electric shocks and waterboarding, while in detention.
The Saudi authorities have firmly denied the charges.
The imprisonment of women activists has brought the kingdom’s human rights record to the fore, which was also heavily criticized around the world in relation to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Istanbul consulate in 2018.