The family of the “most outspoken” political prisoner in Saudi Arabia calls on the G20 to hold the kingdom accountable

The G20 leaders are meeting this weekend for a virtual summit hosted by Riyadh, which currently chairs the Rich Countries Club. The event revived debate about human rights violations in the kingdom, in escalation under the leadership Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Which introduced a series of reforms while firmly eliminating dissent in the kingdom.

Lina, Loujain Al-Hathloul’s sister, “It is the duty of the international community to ask about (Lujain). To tell Saudi Arabia that they will not believe any of the reforms while those who were defending them are behind bars.” Al-Hathloul to CNN. It is the duty of the international community to demand Loujain’s release. ”

Amnesty International World leaders urged Not for “Buying Spin: The Real Change Makers of Saudi Arabia Are in Prison”. Human Rights Watch said the summit was “An international standing mark To the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but it is helping the Saudi government to tarnish its image as a widespread violator of human rights. ”
Al-Hathloul, 31, was imprisoned in May 2018 during an arrest campaign targeting prominent opponents of the kingdom’s previous law that bans women from driving. The campaign took place just weeks before the ban was lifted. Questioning the prince’s reform agenda.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, said in an interview with CNN on Friday that Al-Hathloul’s case “is left to the courts. It is under trial because of issues related to national security.”

“The idea of ​​detaining her and her friends because they defended the woman driving is an unreasonable idea,” Al-Jubeir said. “(The plan to lift the ban on) women’s driving was issued by His Majesty the King (King Salman) six months before their arrest. If every woman in Saudi Arabia defending women’s driving is placed in prison, then half of the women in Saudi Arabia will be in prison.”

in a A six-page charge sheet for Al-Hathloul case“Crimes Committed”, which was seen by CNN, includes activity against restrictive male guardianship laws in the kingdom, as well as contact with foreign journalists and diplomats.

The charges are based on a series of alleged confessions, according to the documents, which state that Al-Hathloul confessed to offering a job at the United Nations as well as admitting that he was in contact with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

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“Psychologically destroyed” in prison

During most of her imprisonment, Al-Hathloul detailed her hardships – including Allegations of torture and sexual assault To her parents during their prison visits. These allegations were later published before Three of her siblings Living outside the kingdom and they were Court testimony confirmed her Other female activists.

Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of torture and sexual assault in their prisons.

Her brothers said that Al-Hathloul was denied most of her regular calls and visits with her family for most of 2020, adding that officials indicated that the coronavirus pandemic was the reason for the suspension of communications.

When her parents saw Al-Hathloul in August, after they last spoke to her on the phone in April, they found her “very skinny and very weak,” says Lina.

She still looks stubborn and alert. Loujain told her family that she got the visit because she was on a hunger strike and because the prison authorities responded to her demands. She had protested the suspension after learning that at least another inmate was still in constant contact with her family, according to Lina.

Lina said that after another visit on September 9, Jane was again denied contact with her family until a meeting with her parents on October 26, when she informed them that she would resume her hunger strike.

“She was fine physically, but psychologically,” said Lena. “My parents told us that they had never seen Jane as weak and desperate as she was on that visit.

“I told them she would start a hunger strike that day … My parents tried everything to make her happy, but Jane was absolutely sure of what she wanted … She doesn’t want to stay alive in this prison anymore as there is no way to even make regular calls.”

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Earlier this month, a panel of independent experts from the United Nations expressed alarm over reports of Al-Hathloul’s deteriorating health and criticized Saudi Arabia’s apparent refusal to allow contact with her family.

“The Committee is concerned about recent information regarding Ms. Al-Hathloul’s prolonged detention conditions, which prompted her to start a hunger strike,” said a statement issued by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

“Unlike other detainees, and contrary to rules 26 and 42 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders … Mrs. Al-Hathloul is not allowed regular contact with her family or the practice of activities according to the reports received.”

Al-Hathloul’s family said they had received no news of them since October 26.

Saudi authorities have not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the allegations made by Hathloul’s relatives.

Lina Al-Hathloul and her sister Loujain pose for an undated photo on a train from Brussels.

Al-Hathloul is believed to be the most vociferous political prisoner currently inside Saudi prisons, after he made the plight of women’s rights defenders in the kingdom known to the outside world and sparked international outrage. Most of the activists arrested in the wave of arrests targeting Al-Hathloul were released in early 2019, after tremendous international pressure.

The 31-year-old activist was one of the few activists whose release was refused. Her sister said she was placed in solitary confinement in mid-April 2019 and is still there. Lina said that in January 2020, Al-Hathloul was permitted to leave her solitary cell, but that she was unable to cope with other people’s voices after being denied communication for nearly seven months. She asked to remain in her cell, with an hour of social activities a day, according to her family.

In August 2019, the Saudi authorities offered to release Al-Hathloul on condition Eliminated allegations of tortureHer family said. She turned down the offer, according to her brothers.

Jane’s sister, Lina Al-Hathloul, told CNN, “She does not want to go out and let the people who tortured and imprisoned her walk with impunity and are still able to do so for other women after her.”

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“She (the Saudi female detainee) is the most outspoken behind bars. You will not accept her release without full and real justice.”

CNN’s Nick Robertson contributed to this report from Riyadh.

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