Saudi Arabia has arrested two prominent women’s rights activists, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
The arrests of Samar Badawi – sister of imprisoned liberal blogger Raif Badawi – along with Nassima al-Sadah follow the arrests of more than 12 women’s rights activists since May.
The previous arrests came just before the kingdom allowed women the right to drive for the first time. Those arrested were leading activists who had pushed for women to be able to drive.
While the king and his messenger, heir-to-the-throne Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have been heavy on the PR trail pushing their “progressive” view for the future of Saudi Arabia to the West, clearly we should not be taken in by these apparent machinations.
“The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
The U.S. awarded Badawi its International Women of Courage Award in 2012 for her activism in challenging the kingdom’s male guardianship laws as well as her work advocating for women to be able to drive, vote and run in elections.
Her arrest along with that of al-Sadah will hopefully not go unnoticed in the upper echelons of the U.S. government.
We call on our readers to make sure they don’t.
Please join us in writing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to protest these and the previous arrests of women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia. Feel free to cut and paste our letter below. Send it to Pompeo at https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform or tweet him at @SecPompeo
Dear Mr. Pompeo,
We urge you, with the full backing of the power of the U.S. government, to strongly urge authorities in Saudi Arabia to free Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, along with all other arrested women’s rights activists and human rights activists in the kingdom.
Please make a special mention of Samar’s brother, Raif Badawi, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence and has already received 50 of the 1,000 lashes of his sentence for expressing his opinion about religion.
The Clarion Project