Family of Saudi Arabia’s ‘most outspoken’ political prisoner calls on G20 to hold kingdom to account

G20 leaders are meeting This particular weekend at a virtual summit hosted by Riyadh, which currently heads the club of rich nations. The event has revived discussion about the kingdom’s human rights abuses, on an uptick under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has rolled out a rapid succession of reforms while also forcefully stamping out dissent inside the kingdom.  

“the item’s the duty of the international community to ask about (Loujain). To tell Saudi Arabia of which they won’t believe any of the reforms when the ones who have been advocating for them are behind bars,” Loujain al-Hathloul’s sister, Lina al-Hathloul, told CNN. “the item’s the duty of the international community to call on the Discharge of Loujain.”  

Amnesty International urged world leaders not to “buy the spin: Saudi Arabia’s real change makers are in jail.” Human Rights Watch said the summit was “a mark of international prestige for the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nevertheless the item helps the Saudi government deflect coming from its image as a pervasive human rights violator.” 
Hathloul, 31, was jailed in May 2018 during an arrest sweep of which targeted prominent opponents of the kingdom’s former law barring women coming from driving. The crackdown happened just weeks before the ban was lifted, casting doubt on the prince’s reform agenda.  

In an interview with CNN’s Nic Robertson on Friday, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Jubeir said Hathloul’s case “was up to the courts. She’s on trial for matters related to national security.”

“The idea of which she as well as her friends were detained because they advocated women’s driving is usually preposterous,” said Jubeir. “(The plan to lift the ban on) women’s driving was decreed by His Majesty (King Salman) six months before they were detained. as well as if every woman in Saudi Arabia who advocates for women driving were to be put in jail, half the women in Saudi Arabia might be in jail.”

In a six-page charge sheet for Hathloul’s case, seen by CNN, a section entitled “crimes committed” includes activism against the kingdom’s restrictive male guardianship laws, along with contact with foreign journalists as well as diplomats.

The charges rely on a series of alleged confessions, according to the documents, which state of which Hathloul confessed to applying for a job at the UN along with confessing to being in contact with the human rights groups Amnesty International as well as Human Rights Watch.

‘Psychologically destroyed’ in prison

For much of her imprisonment, Hathloul has detailed her hardships — including allegations of torture as well as sexual abuse — to her parents during their prison visits. Those allegations were later made public by three of her siblings who live outside the kingdom, as well as were corroborated by the court testimony of some other female activists. 

Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of torture as well as sexual abuse in their prisons. 

For most of 2020, Hathloul has been denied regular calls as well as visits with her family, her siblings said, adding of which officials cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for suspending communications.  

When their parents saw Hathloul in August, after having last spoken to her on the phone in April, they had found her looking “extremely skinny as well as extremely weak,” Lina related. 

Still she appeared headstrong as well as alert. Loujain told her family of which she had been granted the visit because she had been on hunger strike as well as prison authorities had given in to her demands. She had been protesting the suspension of communication after she learned of which at least one some other prisoner still had regular contact with her family, according to Lina. 

nevertheless after another visit on September 9, Loujain was again denied contact with her family until a meeting with her parents on October 26, when she informed them of which she might resume a hunger strike, said Lina.   

Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been in Saudi prison since May 2018, charged with women's rights activism as well as contacting journalists.

“Loujain was OK physically, nevertheless psychologically she was destroyed,” Lina said. “My parents told us of which they’ve never seen Loujain as weak as well as as hopeless as she was on of which visit.   

“She told them of which she will start a hunger strike on of which day … My parents tried everything to cheer her up nevertheless Loujain was just sure about what she wanted … she doesn’t want to survive in This particular prison anymore where she’s not even allowed to have regular calls.”  

A UN committee of independent experts earlier This particular month expressed alarm at reports of Hathloul’s deteriorating health condition as well as criticized Saudi Arabia’s apparent refusal to allow contact with her family. 

“The Committee is usually alarmed by the recent information concerning the conditions of Ms. Al-Hathloul’s prolonged detention, which have prompted her to start a hunger strike,” read a statement by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 

“Unlike some other detainees, as well as contrary to Rules 26 as well as 42 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners as well as Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders … Ms. Al-Hathloul is usually not allowed to have regular contact with her family nor to exercise activities, according to reports received,” the item said. 

Hathloul’s family says they have not received news about her since October 26.  

Saudi authorities have not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the allegations made by Hathloul’s relatives.   

Lina al-Hathloul as well as her sister Loujain pictured in an undated photo on a train coming from Brussels.

Hathloul is usually believed to be the most vocal political detainee currently inside Saudi prisons, having made the plight of the kingdom’s imprisoned women’s rights defenders known to the outside world as well as sparking international outrage. Most of the activists detained inside the wave of arrests which targeted Hathloul were freed in early 2019, after immense international pressure. 

The 31-year-old activist was one of a handful of female activists denied Discharge. She was put in a solitary confinement in mid-April 2019 as well as remains there to date, her sister said. In January 2020, Hathloul was allowed to leave her solitary cell, nevertheless she could not adjust to the sounds of some other people after having been deprived of interactions for nearly seven months, Lina said. She asked to stay in her cell, with an hour of social activities a day, according to her family.  

In August 2019, Saudi authorities offered to Discharge Hathloul on condition of which she rescind her allegations of torture, her family said. She declined the offer, according to her siblings.

“She doesn’t want to get out as well as possess the people who tortured her as well as imprisoned her walk with impunity as well as still be able to do This particular to some other women after her,” Loujain’s sister, Lina al-Hathloul, told CNN.  

“She’s the most outspoken (Saudi detainee) behind bars. She won’t accept to be released without a full as well as real justice.”  

CNN’s Nic Robertson contributed to This particular report coming from Riyadh.

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