Join the campaign to push for the release of Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a long history of forcefully silencing men and women who dare to stand up to the country’s unjust laws and patriarchal gender norms. The crackdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly in Saudi Arabia continues to worsen, with the CIVICUS Monitor rating the state of the country’s civic space as closed.
Persecuted, tortured and sexually harrassed for defending women’s rights
On 15 May 2018, a few weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving, authorities launched a large scale coordinated crackdown against women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the kingdom. Tens of prominent WHRDs, among many others, have since been arrested. Saudi authorities targeted WHRDs who fought to lift the country’s driving ban on women, and those calling for an end to the male guardianship system, which requires women to get permission from a male relative to travel, marry or work. While legally women can work without the permission of a male relative, their realities tell a different story . Among those arrested are: Aziza al-Yousef, one of Saudi’s first activists advocating for Saudi to end the ban on women driving and guardianship laws; Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent WHRD who has worked tirelessly to support women’s rights in Saudi and has repeatedly participated in defying the driving ban; Eman al-Nafjan and Nouf Abdulaziz al-Jerawi, journalists and women’s rights activists who also campaigned to end the driving ban, and writers, academics and family members of WHRDs.
The state has labelled these activists as ‘traitors’ and ‘foreign agents’ accusing them of terrorism, destabilising the kingdom and sharing information about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia with local journalists, diplomats and international human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International. A recent report by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights found that arrested Saudi WHRDs have faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation. At least one detainee has been psychologically tortured; falsely informed of a family member’s death.
On 13 March 2019, nine WHRDs were brought forward for the first hearing of their trial. Since then, seven WHRDs, Eman Al-Nafjan, Aziza Al-Yousef and Royaka Al-Mohareb, Hatoon Al-Fassi, Abeer Namankani and Amal Al-Harbi were granted temporary release, however their trial is expected to resume after Ramadan. The release of these women is not enough!
At least four women, including Loujain Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah continue to be detained without charge, some of whom are awaiting a trial that could have them facing up to 20 years in prison. This is the most serious attack on women’s rights activism and it must end now!Your voice counts for making pushing for the freedom of WHRDs in Saudi Arabia. Join us in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all Saudi WHRDs, and that all charges against them be dropped with immediate effect.
TAKE ACTION and JOIN THE CAMPAIGN!
To sign the petition, please visit: https://www.change.org/p/united-nations-hold-saudi-arabia-accountable-free-saudi-activists
Join social media conversations by using hashtags #FreeSaudiActivists and #FreeSaudiWomen
To learn more about the fight for women right’s in Saudi Arabia click on the following links:
- CIVICUS Monitor tracking on Saudi Arabia: https://monitor.civicus.org/country/saudi-arabia/
- 36 States stand with Saudi women human rights defenders: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/united-nations/geneva/3781-36-states-stand-with-saudi-women-human-rights-defenders For the joint statement: https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/documents/jst_saudi_arabia_hrc40.pdf
- Saudi Arabia: Over 50 human rights groups call for immediate release of women’s rights defenders: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/open-letters/3757-saudi-arabia-over-50-human-rights-groups-call-for-immediate-release-of-women-s-rights-defenders
- Saudi Arabia: Over 160 groups call for accountability following murder of journalist and widespread arrest of women’s rights defenders: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/3584-saudi-arabia-over-160-groups-call-for-accountability-following-murder-of-journalist-and-widespread-arrest-of-women-s-rights-defenders
- Saudi Arabia: Free Saudi activists now!: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/3598-saudi-arabia-free-saudi-activists-now
- Demanding gender equality is not terrorism! Saudi Arabia must drop all charges against detained WHRDs: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/3786-demanding-gender-equality-is-not-terrorism-saudi-arabia-must-unconditionally-drop-all-charges-against-detained-women-human-rights-defenders-2
- Campaign to Whitewash Saudi Arabia’s Image Does Little for Women in the Kingdom: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/op-eds/3857-campaign-to-whitewash-saudi-arabia-s-image-does-little-for-women-in-the-kingdom
- Free Saudi Women Coalition Calls for Immediate Release of Saudi Women Activists: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/3636-free-saudi-women-coalition-calls-for-immediate-release-of-saudi-women-activists
- Stakeholder Report for the Universal Periodic Review of Saudi Arabia 2013: https://civicus.org/images/stories/Stakeholder_Report_for_the_Universal_Periodic_Review_of_Saudi_Arabia_2013_Mar_4FINAL%20(1).pdf