More than 120 MEPs denounce the “continuing persecution” of Saudi women’s rights defenders

More than 120 members of the European Parliament have denounced the Riyadh regime’s “continued persecution” of Saudi women human rights defenders, saying activists released from prison still face rights violations and severe restrictions in the kingdom .

The lawmakers, in a joint letter signed on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, reiterated their call on the Saudi authorities “to immediately and unconditionally release all women targeted for their human rights activism. human rights”.

While all female activists arrested in a sweeping crackdown in 2018 have now been released from prison, female activists, including prominent figures Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah and Loujain al-Hathloul, have been subjected to heavy restrictions and restriction of fundamental rights. since their release, the letter states.

“These measures constitute further violations of their fundamental rights, including freedom of movement and association and freedom of expression, and ostracize activists at the critical threshold of starting a new life after their release from prison,” lawmakers said.

Hathloul, known for defying Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving and opposing Saudi’s system of male guardianship, is currently still facing three years probation and a five-year travel ban.

Some of the women had to sign pledges that they would not disclose details of their detention, while several of their family members are also under travel bans, as a form of collective punishment and general harassment.

MEPs also denounced Saudi Arabia’s repressive system and the restrictions women face in daily life.

“The male guardianship system as well as disobedience laws continue to negatively affect all aspects of women’s lives,” the letter read.

For its part, the London-based Saudi rights group ALQST called on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all women targeted for their human rights activism, drop all charges against them and to provide them with adequate compensation.

The group said freed women’s rights activists should enjoy their full right to freedom of movement, that their travel bans and those of their family members should be lifted, and that they should be able to carry out their work. legitimate human rights defender without fear of reprisal.

Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has stepped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived to be political opponents, making evidence of near-zero tolerance for dissent, even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights activists put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association and belief continue to be violated.