According to a report prepared by the Grant Liberty Human Rights Organization, about 309 Saudi political prisoners have suffered human rights violations since Prince Muhammad bin Salman became the crown prince of the kingdom in 2017.
The report confirmed that 20 prisoners were arrested because of political crimes they committed while they were children, noting that five of them were executed, and 13 others were sentenced to death.
These human rights reports come to increase pressure on the Kingdom to release human rights activists, coinciding with Riyadh hosting a virtual summit of the G20 for the first time in the Arab world.
The report stated that about 27 activists in the field of women’s rights are detained in Saudi prisons, and that 6 of them were subjected to sexual assault.
The sister of the imprisoned Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain Al-Hathloul, who entered the twenty-third day of the hunger strike, said that her sister was subjected to torture and sexual harassment at the beginning of her arrest, charges that were also made by international NGOs, but the Saudi authorities denied them, according to Agence France-Presse .
The sister of Loujain Al-Hathloul, a Saudi activist imprisoned since 2018, urged the members of the Group of Twenty, whose summit will be held in Riyadh at the end of the week through virtual space, to pressure the Saudi authorities to release the detained Saudi activists.
“We don’t know anything about Loujain since October 26,” said Lina Al-Hathloul, a 25-year-old from Berlin, in a telephone interview with Agence France-Presse. “When my parents visited her that day, I told them that she was almost losing hope and that she had started a hunger strike.”
Loujain Al-Hathloul, 31, has fought with other Saudi women for years for the right of women to drive and for the end of the male guardianship system over women in the kingdom that applies Islamic law.
Ironically, these activists were all arrested when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a series of reforms, including the right of women to drive, which had been in effect since June 2018.
Human rights organizations confirmed that Loujain was forced to endure abuse, including electric shocks, flogging, and sexual harassment while in prison.
The worst violations
“In 2012, I was granted asylum in Britain – I was campaigning to end dictatorship and authoritarian policies in the kingdom,” said Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi activist living in exile. “I was lucky to be out. No explanation has been provided but there is no denying the truth. They were arrested not because they committed a crime, but because of my activism. ”
“When she was arrested with my brother, they were tortured in front of each other. They were beaten and cigarettes were extinguished on their skin. My brother had to record a video condemning me so that the official Saudi channels could post it on social media. I was told that any contact with my family would expose their lives. More risk. ”
The report emphasized that the Saudi government uses prolonged solitary confinement on a large scale by the authorities, and has repeatedly prevented prisoners from consulting their legal teams.
“This report details the widespread abuse. Murder, torture and sexual assault. The worst human rights violations imaginable are out there,” said Lucy Ray, a spokeswoman for the Grant Liberty Foundation.
Two years after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and in an effort to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia intends to take advantage of its presidency of the G20 summit to try to improve its image on the international stage.
Mohammed bin Salman, who appears as the young reformist leader who raised the banner of liberating Saudi society, is accused of adopting a harsh policy against any opposition.
“For the Saudi authorities, the G20 summit is very important: it is a moment for them to promote their reform agenda to the world, and show that their country is open to business,” said Lynn Maalouf of Amnesty International.
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