He seemed weak in judgment, his body was shaking uncontrollably and his voice was fragile and shaky. & rdquor ;. Loujain Alhathloul, the tireless Saudi activist for women’s rights, did not look like her during her court appearance on Wednesday. Her sister Lina has announced the transfer of her case from an ordinary criminal court to a court of terrorism. Several international organizations have denounced this gesture as an attempt to escalate the case before the international pressure for his release and the change administration in the United States.
Alhathloul is one of the four activists for the rights of Saudi women who appeared before the judge. Nassima al-Sadah, Samar Badawi y Nouf Abdelaziz starred in this rare court hearing alongside Loujain, who has become the visible face of Saudi human rights defenders imprisoned by the Saudi regime. Mohammad bin Salman. “How credible is it that after more than a year of being tried in the criminal court, the judge now says that she has a lack of jurisdiction and transfers it to the terrorism court? & Rdquor ;, Lina al Hazlul asked.
“Loujain still does not have proof of the accusation & rdquor ;, his sister recalled,” it has been almost three years since she has been in preventive detention and should be put in freedom& rdquor ;. The 31-year-old activist was arrested in 2018 a few weeks before the lifting of the driving ban Saudi women. Alhathloul, who had led the campaign against this deprivation, was arrested along with a dozen activists, many of them still in prison.
How credible is yesterday’s judge’s instruction to the Public Prosecution to open an investigation regarding Loujain’s torture when it is this same Public Prosecution that previously denied any torture in its response to Loujain’s pleadings? https://t.co/8xSH5MUkjX
– Lina Alhathloul (@LinaAlhathloul) November 26, 2020
But the Saudi authorities deny that this was the cause of his arrest. “That idea is absurd & rdquor ;, declared the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel Jubeir. “Loujain Alhathloul was detained for issues related to National security, dealing with foreign entities, supporting entities hostile to Saudi Arabia & rdquor ;, he told the BBC.
Although few charges against the activists have been made public, those against Alhathloul include communicating with foreign journalists, attempting to apply for a job in United Nations and attend a course on digital privacy, according to his family. During his more than two years in prison, al Hazlul has been victim of abuse such as electric shock, spanking, and sexual assault. Together with their companions, they have been subjected to isolation regimes for months. The Saudi authorities deny the torture accusations.
Change with Biden
“Loujain said he finished his hunger strike after two weeks of starting it on October 26, since the guards woke her up every two hours, day and night, as a brutal tactic to break her & rdquor ;, he tweeted the account of International Amnesty in the Gulf. “However, she is far from broken. & Rdquor; Many international organizations have used the G-20 summit in Saudi Arabia to denounce the constant violations of human rights and the imprisonment of activists.
The imminent rise to power of Joe Biden threatens the human rights free will of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). The president-elect has described it as a “pariah& rdquor; and has announced a firmer line with the Wahhabi leader. Recent MBS reforms have not been enough to correct its reputation as oppressive regime with political dissidents and feminist activists. Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Adam Coogle, is clear: “Whatever happens, this is all a farce”.
Faced with mounting international pressure, some NGOs hoped that in a gesture of goodwill, the Saudi authorities would release these women. But it was not like that. Instead, in a disturbing move, they transferred their case to the Specialized Criminal Court; an institution used to silence dissent and known for issuing long prison sentences after trials with serious flaws & rdquor ;, Amnesty denounced in a statement.
Transferring @LoujainHathloul ‘s case to the “Terrorism” court doesn’t make her a terrorist.
It exposes though the brutality & hypocrisy of #Saudi authorities that instrumentalise “women empowerment” to whitewash their image, while prosecuting women activists under sham charges. https://t.co/zTsl2162hp
— Amnesty Gulf (@amnestygulf) November 25, 2020
From her own activism, Lina Alhathloul has insisted on the need to keep this cause in the public eye. “When we were silent and the world knew nothing about her, she was being tortured in an unofficial prison & rdquor ;, he recalled, “every time we don’t make noise, they put her in solitary confinement & rdquor ;. For now, the noise that Loujain began to make does not reach the offices of power.