Amnesty International Canada

Saudi Arabia:
release women human rights defenders

Jailed for advocating for women’s equality.

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Call on Saudi Arabia to release 'women's right to drive' activists


His Excellency
Naif Bandir
A. Alsudairy
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Peaceful Protest is not a Crime

In May 2018, authorities in Saudi Arabia detained University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul, along with Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza-al-Yousef. All three are prominent women’s rights activists and leading campaigners for lifting the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. They were among a group of Saudi Arabian women human rights defenders arrested in a sweeping wave of arrests.

In early August, two other women human rights defenders, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada, were detained. Samar Badawi is the sister of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The crackdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly in Saudi Arabia continued unabated. In late August, the Saudi authorities called for Israa al-Ghomgham and four other people to be executed for offences related to their participation in protests in the Shi’a majority Eastern Province.

Loujain, Iman, Aziza, Samar, and Nassima continue to be detained without charge.

Smeared as traitors by the Saudi media

State media in Saudi Arabia have branded the women as traitors, and have accused some of the women of forming a “cell,” posing a threat to state security for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric.” Smear campaigns like this are a common tactic used worldwide to try and discredit human rights defenders.

Women human rights defenders around the world face harassment and violence because they are women, and because they may step outside traditional gender norms to publicly advocate for equality.

Loujain, Iman, Aziza, Samar, and Nassima are courageous women human rights defenders who have publicly and peacefully advocated for an end to the male guardianship system, the right to drive, and more broadly, for justice and equality. The price they are paying for their activism is steep; if charged, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Amnesty International firmly opposes all forms of Islamophobia and condemns any and all acts of white supremacist racism and violence against Muslim communities.

Learn more about the jailed women human rights defenders and what you can do to help.



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