The trial of Saudi activist al-Hathloul on hunger strike to resume | Saudi Arabia


Human rights groups have called for the “unconditional release” of Loujain al-Hathloul after relatives of the jailed Saudi activist said she was due in court on Wednesday, nearly a month after she began a hunger-strike.Al-Hathloul, a prominent women’s rights activist, was arrested along with a dozen other activists in May 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted a decades-old ban on female drivers.

The 31-year-old’s trial began in March 2019, but activists and her family said court sessions were arbitrarily announced and closed to diplomats and journalists.

“We just announced that @LoujainHathloul has a trial tomorrow,” the activist’s sister Lina al-Hathloul wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi authorities.

“The only fair outcome for this trial would be the immediate and unconditional release of Loujain al-Hathloul,” said Lynn Maalouf of Amnesty International.

“She’s not a criminal – she’s a human rights defender who is being punished just for daring to advocate for change.”

Some of the activists arrested with al-Hathloul have been provisionally released, while others remain in detention amid what activists have called “opaque” trials on charges that include contacts with foreign media, diplomats and others. human rights groups.

Pro-government Saudi media called al-Hathloul and others “traitors,” and her family alleged that she had been sexually harassed and tortured in detention, including electric shocks and windsurfing .

Saudi authorities have firmly denied the charges.

The detention of women activists has highlighted the kingdom’s human rights record, which has also come under heavy global criticism for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his consulate in Istanbul.

Al-Hathloul has refused food in prison since October 26 to demand regular contact with his family, his siblings said, expressing concern over his fragile health.

For months, they said, the activist had only limited contact with her family.

A United Nations women’s rights committee called for her “immediate” release earlier this month, saying al-Hathloul’s deteriorating health was “deeply alarming”.


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