Peaceful Protest is not a Crime
In 2018, some of the most prominent women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia were arrested solely for their peaceful activism in support of justice and equality.
In May 2018, authorities in Saudi Arabia detained University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul. In June, they arrested Maya’a al-Zahrani and Nouf Abdulaziz. In early August 2018, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada were detained.
They were amongst a broader group of women human rights defenders arrested in a sweeping wave of arrests in a crackdown on freedom of expression, association, and assembly in Saudi Arabia.
Some of the activists reported being tortured while in detention. Some were held incommunicado and/or in solitary confinement for lengthy periods of time.
The women human rights defenders have been charged with bogus offenses. Many have been conditionally released. All face charges and could face lengthy prison sentences if convicted.
On November 25, 2020, Loujain’s case was moved to the Specialized Criminal Court (anti-terrorism court). Loujain, Samar, and Nassima remain in prison.