Saudis release 2 women in sweep targeting rights activists

Elias Hubbard
May 24, 2018

Saudi Arabia has released veteran women's rights activist Aisha al-Manea following her arrest last week with several other activists in a crackdown just weeks before a ban on women driving is set to end, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

'There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the absence of almost 30 days of Muhammad bin Sulman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is due to an incident which is being hidden from the public, ' Kayhan claimed. She has worked closely with al-Yousef and other women's rights activists to help domestic abuse victims and bring attention to repressive guardianship laws.

He said he has made a decision to release all those proven not guilty and others who had agreed financial settlements with the government after admitting to corruption allegations.

Saudi activists claim that the guardianship issue is at the core of the fight for women's rights.

"Again, these arrests are happening largely as a way to silence the critics of Mohammed bins Salman's reform campaign in particular because these women's rights activists are demanding more than just the lifting of the driving ban". "If it erupts, it will affect not only the situation inside Saudi Arabia or in the Arab region but it will have an effect on you too", he said. Within days of the activists' arrests, pro-government newspapers and social media accounts launched an alarming and apparently coordinated campaign against them, branding them "traitors".

"The crown prince, who has styled himself as a reformer with Western allies and investors, should be thanking the activists for their contributions to the Saudi women's rights movement", Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director said in a statement.

Charges also include financial support to these individuals to undermine the security and stability of the country, according to SAPRAC.

"Their motives have nothing to do with human rights activities at all, as they have used human rights activism as nothing but a cover to hide their true actions" according to Salman Al-Ansari, the founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee. Aside from campaigning against the ban on women driving cars in the state, the group is well-known for protesting against other draconian laws and regulations, including the guardianship rules, which dictate that all Saudi women need to seek permission from a male relative before making any life-changing decisions, such as traveling overseas or getting married. Hathloul was previously detained at least twice for her activism.

Discussing last year's so-called anti-corruption campaign, which was led by Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Khaled bin Farhan said, "It was a shock for the entire family because prominent figures in the family were detained in a way that held a great deal of humiliation". He also reined in the country's religious police, who enforce strict rules of public behavior that fall most heavily on women.

Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to start driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom from 24 June, the kingdom announced earlier this month. Saudi citizens are among the most engaged people on social media in the world, but the new Saudi Arabia does not tolerate these mediums being used for anything more than gratuitous praise of its young leader and his foreign policies, however reckless they may be.

"When women take advantage of the very slight openings that have happened in Saudi Arabia, there is a crackdown". "They have very supportive families and nice lives but they chose to be the voice for us". I think a lot of the goal of the façade was to placate forces outside of Saudi Arabia and not really for the Saudi people themselves, " he told RT.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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