Advance of feminism in Saudi Arabia 4

Ongoing arrests despite the lifting of the driving ban
 News Center - In light of a strict of the Saudi authorities, the detention of human rights activists in Saudi prisons remain an unresolved issue.
Trials and condition in prisons
 Although women were allowed to drive on June 24, 2018, and the opening plan was adopted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called "Vision 2030", there is no information about the date of release arrested human rights activists who demanded the lifting of the ban.
 The detainees were transferred to solitary confinement in Jeddah’s Dhahban Political Prison, the Human Rights Organizations claim that the Saudi authorities use psychological and physical torture against prisoners in that prison. Alia and Walid AL-Hathloul (Lujain's brothers) wrote articles and attended conferences to expose the violations committed against detainees and pressure imposed on the relatives of the detainees by the authorities transferring the detainees to Al-Hayr prison in southern Saudi Arabia.
 Al-Hayr prison is not better than Dhahban prison; reports of human rights organizations criticized the conditions in the Al-Hayr prison, opened in 1983, and indicated that prisoners were subjected to torture and human rights violations.
 In the first hearing, which was limited to the presence of the families, ten women activists appeared before the court, including Lujain Al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yusef, Iman al-Nafjan, and Hatun al-Fassi, and the session ended on March 13, 2019.
 The authorities offered the detainees the acceptance of signing an amnesty request from the king and an apology for their activities, and accordingly, they would be tried according to the online crime law and not to the laws of terrorism.
At the first hearing, the activists were not allowed to speak, and they were limited to listening to the charges against them of providing financial support to anti-government entities.
 On the 27th of March 2019, the second hearing was held, 12 activists were represented at the court and some of the detainees' relatives attended the hearing. Lujain Al-Hathloul, Hatun Al-Fassi, Iman Al-Nafjan, and Aziza Al-Youssef were among them.
 As in the first hearing, foreign media and observers were not allowed to attend the hearing, despite formal requests to the authorities, and Reuters said they were taken out from the court building.
 During the hearing, the activists responded to the accusations against them and talked about the violations they were subjected to during interrogation, including torture, such as electrocution, lashing, and drowning, some of them spoke boldly and directly about their sexual harassment by investigators.
 Lujain's brother, Walid, revealed to the German channel Deutsche Fillih that his sister was subjected to beating, electric shock, delusions with drowning, lashing, and sexual harassment, and Saud Al-Qahtan threatened her to kill and cut her body and throw its parts in the sewage.
 Walid wrote an article for CNN about his sister's situation and he said Lujain called him a month after her arrest using an unknown phone number and told him that she was not in prison but was locked up in a hotel. His father visited Lujain in prison after pressure from human rights organizations, Lujain's hand were trembling and she had the effects of burns and torture on her body and the investigators offered her to cooperate with them and provide information about the Saudi female activists abroad, but she refused.
The Guardian revealed the first documented evidence condemning the Saudi authorities on March 31, 2019, which was a medical report on the detainees' health condition prepared for submission to King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz.
 The report revealed the health status of more than 60 detainees, including political activists and supporters of women's rights demanding reforms for human rights activists, and religious advocates.
 According to the medical report, detainees suffer from bruises, burns, and visible wounds on their hands and throughout the body, deterioration in the state of their health, and they have severe weight loss along with persistent bloody vomiting due to the lack of food.
 Detainees also have difficulty in walking due to bruises on their legs, lower back areas, thighs, malnutrition and dehydration and some cannot move due to wounds on their legs.
 The British Special Investigation Authority said it had evidence showing the Saudi authorities violate the rights of women detainees, and demanded visiting the detainees, but the authorities refused.
Temporary release of eight detainees
 During the second hearing , the activists submitted requests to be released on bail, but the authorities refused, and three of them (Roqaya al-Muhareb, Aziza al-Youssef, Iman al-Nafjan) were released after the third hearing ended at the beginning of April.
 On May 1, five detainees were temporarily released (Hatun Al-Fassi, Abeer Al-Nimankani, Amal Al-Harbi, Maysaa Al-Mana and Shaddan Al-Anzi).
International and legal demands and Saudi disregard
 Human rights organizations in Europe, the US, and many the countries believing in freedom of expression and women's rights denounced the ongoing detention of activists, especially women activists demanding women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
 On 20 November 2018, Amnesty International published reports about the violations of the rights of female detainees in Saudi prisons described the charges against women as false and denounced the method of trials.
 On International Women's Day, March 8, 2018, Amnesty International organized a protest in front of the Saudi embassy in Paris, denouncing the ongoing detention of the activists, and demanding their release.
 Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement signed by 36 member states calling for the release of women’s rights defenders.
 Human Rights Watch criticized Muhammad bin Salman, who called for reforming laws and opening up to the world, but on the contrary, he is arresting  those calling for an end to discrimination against women and contributors to the reform movement.
 In February 2019, British Labor MP Ann Clwyd submitted a parliamentary question to the British commons council about the detention of women activists in Saudi Arabia, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of them and the start of an investigation into allegations of torture and sexual harassment.
The European Union, Canada, and Australia also called on the Saudi authorities to release the detainees, but the position of the US was shameful and it only monitored the situation closely during the visit of some officials to the Kingdom without exerting serious pressure.
 The Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee organized a briefing session for human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia at the American Congress, titled "Women’s Rights Defenders in Saudi Arabia" including testimonies and reports on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, in the reports, Walid Al-Hathloul, the brother of the detainee Lujain, journalist Safa Al-Ahmad, and Omaima Al-Najjar, talked about violations in Saudi Arabia.  Democrats called for Saudi Arabia to be held accountable by the United States and the international community.
 The Tom Lantos Committee was established in 1983, and it is an electoral bloc having members of the Republican and Democratic Party and aims to support human rights around the world.
French President Emmanuel Macron sympathized with Lujain Al-Hathloul, and during his speech on the occasion of International Women's Day, he said that Lujain was imprisoned merely for criticizing the Saudi regime regarding women's rights and she was subjected to a fierce campaign of defamation by the kingdom on social media.
36 countries made a joint statement on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and the statement condemned the arrests of women and men activists and the application of the anti-terrorism law to citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression in peaceful ways, and demanded their release.
 A message was sent by nine Senators from the US Senate to King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz urging him to release the arrested human rights and women’s rights activists.
A message sent by more than fifty organizations to the ministers participating in the fortieth session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva in February urged the ministers to take decisions to release activists and establish a mechanism to monitor human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.
A panel was held entitled "Saudi Arabia ... at the time of accountability", during the panel, the UN human rights experts said that the Saudi authorities use anti-terror laws to suppress activists in violation of international law that guarantees freedom of expression.
 The equal rights organization formed by Saudi dissident Yahiya Asiri in 2014, launched a campaign to show solidarity with detainees using an advertising campaign by international media outlets including the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times and the Spanish newspaper El Pais Solidarity. The press outlets published the photos of the activists on their first page, and demanded the activists to use the hashtag #StandwithSaudiHeroes on social media, by posting photos, clips and tweets.
 The last call for the release of the arrested was by Amnesty International posted videos and photos of activists on its Twitter account and wrote “A year ago, Saudi Arabia allowed all women to drive except for women who have struggled for that for years … They demand the release of Lujain Al-Hathloul and all women human rights defenders in the Kingdom.”