Here is why Saudi Arabia is arresting women’s rights activists.. updated list 7-8-2018

خائن

The headline ‘’ Women in Saudi now can drive ‘’ was all over the newspapers worldwide few months ago. It was a big news here in Italy, where I currently live as a refugee. I remember that morning very well, I was on my way to work when I met a woman who used to work for the refugee center and said ‘’ Did you read the news? Women can drive in Saudi now? Are you going back to Saudi Arabia?? ‘’. Unfortunately, the majority of people abroad are not aware of the depth of the problems Saudi women face and how shallow this ‘’ Royal decree’’ / decision to left the driving ban.

Women in Saudi not only can not drive, but they can not travel, marry or divorce, pursue education, work or get surgery done in a hospital without a consent of a male guardian. This male guardian law is more of an ownership/slavery system that gives men full power over women. Sadly, this also permits violence against women. Violence against women and girls is a major issue in Saudi Arabia. It is so common that its becoming more of a ‘’ cultural thing’’.

The ‘’ institutional discrimination ‘’against women also bans women from the right to have a safe-house or protection when escaping violence. Instead, a woman is jailed in a center until the male guardian whom also ‘’ the abuser’’ comes and pick her up. If a woman refuses to leave with him, she is to be jailed for life.   Hence, women’s right activists in Saudi Arabia  never stopped campaigning and demanding for more rights  like the right to be fully free first-class citizen like their male counterparts and for the male guardianship to be abolished.

For Saudi women the Royal decree was not enough. Women’s rights activists wanted full reforms that will grant women their full rights. Some of the activists continued to blog, others continued campaigning on social media like twitter and some created anti violence center for women escaping violence. Unfortunately, creating civil institutions to protect women escaping violence and campaigning against male guardianship laws are considered punishable crimes in Saudi Arabia.

Those women who were arrested are being accused of serious crimes such as ‘’ contact with foreign units with the purpose of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric’’ They are also being called agents and traitors to the country. In other words, spies.  Their pictures were posted on the first page of many local new sites with a big word of traitor written with red color on top.  This was done to send a message to other women’s rights activists who are part of the network.  The arrests are still ongoing. I personally have a short list of some of the women who were arrested but I am afraid the list is a lot longer.

This series of arrests targeting activists is not new in Saudi Arabia.  In 2011 many human rights activists were jailed and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences and were charged with crimes  like terrorism and apostasy. Some even received a death sentence  and executed  in a mass execution in 2016 

This regrouping and campaigning continuously to demand for women’s rights have frightened the new young Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. He is well-known for his zero tolerance toward opposition movements and social activism. Just not long ago he fearlessly arrested 500 members of the Saudi royal family including Waleed bin Talal and Mutaib bin Abdullah, the son of the late king of Saudi Arabia. For this reason, arresting women’s right activists who were bringing international attention to Saudi Arabia’s  violation of human rights against women was not that difficult for the new crown prince.

At last, I hope that Saudi women those who are still in Saudi Arabia  and those who escaped and became refugees like myself to continue blogging spreading the word until those women are released from prison.

Share this post and pass it over  so those women will not be forgotten behind bars..

 

Here is the list of Saudi  Women who were jailed

Some Saudi activists whom also supporters of women rights were arrested

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Modaimeegh

Abdulaziz Al-Mesha’al

Mohammad Al-Rabea

Ibrahim Fahad Al-Nafjan

 

Unnamed man that the state refused to release his name to the press.

 

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Free Loujain and Maysaa

free lujain and maysaa

It has been 2 weeks since the arrest of the Saudi activists Lojain Al Hathloul and Maysaa Al Amoudi.
Loujain was crossing the boarders of UAE/Saudi Arabia driving her own car attempting to break the driving ban in Saudi Arabia when she was arrested earlier this month.
Loujain was stopped on the boarders for over 24 hours, While Saudi Arabian officers at the boarders making phone calls trying to reach the ministry of interior affairs to report Loujain Al Hathloul.
Saudi Officers refused to let Loujain enter the country because she was driving her car. Even though, Loujain holds a valid driving license.
A Saudi officer suggested to Loujain to either go to Saudi Arabia by bus or by plane as she is not allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia since she is a ”woman”. Loujain who is holding a valid GCC driving license argued ” I am a Saudi citizen with a Saudi passport, and as per the law a holder of GCC driving license can drive anywhere within gulf countries ” including Saudi Arabia” as there is no exception in the law against Saudi women.
Yet, she was kept in custody in the boarders for over 24 hours and when Maysaa Al Amoudi, another Saudi activists resides in UAE came to help loujain, the police arrested her as well. Maysaa’s sister Wafa Al Amoudi posted a video asking the Saudi autorities to release both her sister and Loujain Al hathlol saying that her sister had no intention to cross the baorders, she was only bringing something to loujain when she was arrested.
The two Saudi activists have been in prison in Saudi Arabia since the 1st of Dec 2014.
Human rights Activists have started an online campaign demanding Saudi authorities to free Loujain al Hathloul and Maysaa Al Amoudi.
join the campaign on facebook or show your support to Loujain and maysaa by posting a video on youtube demanding Saudi authorities to release Loujain and Maysaa.
You had previously supported Manal Alsharif back in 2011 and your support brought the media attention to the matter and that played an important role in releasing Manal Alsharif.

So please join the ”free loujain and maysaa campaign” here!

That’s why we’re waiting

Saudi woman have successfully won the battle against the ban of female driving in Saudi Arabia BUT unfortunately very few Saudi women have international driving license. Therefore, I don’t see any Saudi women driving
on the streets yet. I have seen the videos on YouTube and I know people who
know people who drove their cars but I have not seen any. That just tells me
that very few Saudi women own a driving license.

It’s very sad and unfortunate that Saudi Arabia has strict gender
segregation rules that prevent women from going to only males driving schools.

Two weeks ago Saudi women (who owns international driving license)
went out on the streets and started driving in public for the first time ever.

Saudi people were expecting the government to make a statement
regarding the ban of female driving but nothing came out. I personally
called 998 ( the traffic police) and asked them if women can go to local
driving schools. Their respond was ” We are waiting for an official statement
from the king that will be announced on TV soon, then you can get a driving
license from any Saudi driving schools here”. I said to myself ”this could be
a very historic day in Saudi Arabia and a huge step forward for equality”. However, nothing happened.

I don’t know how much longer I can wait; I am starting to run out
of patience.