London – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”:
The Washington Post said in its editorial that Saudi Arabia has taken human rights activists to the courts, so how will Biden respond?
The editorial stated, “When Saudi Arabia was pressured to release the human rights activists before hosting the G20 summit, I hinted at the possibility of their release soon.”
The kingdom’s ambassador in London said that “amnesty” for women is being discussed “within our political system and our ministry.” Now that the summit is over, the regime is sending another message. Last week, four women ran into the courtroom in Riyadh. One of them found her case transferred to the Special Court that deals with cases of terrorism and national security.
The newspaper said, “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who supervised the arrest and torture of several human rights activists in 2018, appears to increase their persecution. And he does this knowing that there are seven weeks left for President Donald Trump in office, and he is the one who justified him and ignored human rights, and that he will be replaced by a man who emphasized the cessation of “dangerous open instruments.”
President-elect Joseph Biden said he would review US relations with Saudi Arabia, and would make sure that the United States would not abandon its values at the door in order to sell arms or oil. Perhaps the crown prince was betting that this was a ruse.
She referred to Loujain Al-Hathloul, whose case was transferred to the Special Criminal Court. Al-Hathloul, 31, was kidnapped from the UAE and later arrested in a secret prison where she was subjected to torture, electric shocks, beatings and sexual abuse, according to her family. The violation was overseen by Mohammed bin Salman’s advisor and confidant Saud Al-Qahtani, who later organized the killing of the opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Neither Hathloul nor her colleagues have been brought to court since May 2019, a year after their arrest. CNN reviewed the indictment, which included interviewing journalists and ambassadors and applying to work for the United Nations.
And her trial was suspended after starting it shortly. No session was held for her or her colleagues Samar Badawi, Nouf Abdel Aziz and Nassima Al-Sada until Wednesday. According to her family, Loujain, who went on hunger strike last month, was shaking non-stop, her voice weak and shivering. The newspaper comments that Mohammed bin Salman can send a positive message to the next administration and release the activists and political detainees. But court sessions suggest he is going in the opposite direction.
This is at a time when he is thinking of a different openness. According to widespread reports, he met ten days ago in secret with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While the Trump administration has failed to arrange normalization relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, reports indicate that the crown prince may use normalization with Israel to strengthen his relations with the Biden administration.
Certainly, the next US president will welcome Saudi normalization with Israel, but he must not allow himself to forget his pledge to hold the regime accountable for human rights violations. The new administration must be clear that normal relations between the two countries depend on the release of the human rights activists and the rest of the prisoners.
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