Saudi Arabia: More activists arrested in continuing crackdown

The arrests come a month before the kingdom is slated to lift its driving ban on women

Saudis release 2 women in sweep targeting rights activists

Saudi Arabia's crackdown on critical activists has widened as authorities arrested three more women's rights campaigners, worldwide rights watchdogs said on Tuesday.

While the image MBS presents to Western leaders, worldwide media and global influencers is that Saudi Arabia will be forward-looking and business-friendly, the message to his people is that liberal democracy and an open political system is not on the horizon. She was detained by Saudi authorities as she attempted to cross the border and referred to an anti-terrorism court on charges of criticizing the government online.

At least 10 prominent women's rights activists have been arrested since May 15, according to rights groups.

Officials have said they are suspected of "suspicious contact with foreign parties" and undermining "stability".

"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", said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director. "It is a blessing that the king and royal family have bestowed upon the people in Saudi Arabia", he said.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs, according to an announcement by The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF).

Activists told the AP that seven of those detained were involved in efforts to establish a non-governmental organization called "Amina" that would offer support and shelter to victims of domestic abuse.

As with almost 100,000 young people who left Saudi Arabia every year for almost a decade to study in the West under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, she gained a new understanding of human rights.

The country's interior ministry confirmed the arrests of activists in a tweet and said the arrested were accused of "suspiciously communicating with foreign parties" and providing financial support to "hostile elements overseas to undermine the security and stability of the kingdom".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has embarked on a programme of social reform but the kingdom has cracked down on women's rights activists
Saudi Arabia Reportedly Frees Leading Women's Rights Activist

"It is clear that underneath all the PR hype and spin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reforms exclude human rights activism", Hadid said.

The government on Saturday announced the arrest of seven people, identified by rights groups mostly as women who have long campaigned for the right to drive and to end the kingdom's male guardianship system. "Until these arrests, I had planned to return to Saudi Arabia on June 24". She also established a $2 million endowment to support Saudi and Arab women at the American University of Beirut who are studying advanced degrees in nursing and health sciences.

A Saudi woman drives her vehicle in Jeddah.

Just hours after the announcement that the driving ban would be lifted in September, women who had campaigned for that right were called and asked not to comment publicly - even positively.

Also detained was Aisha al-Mana, a 70-year-old who was among the first to challenge the driving ban, one of more than 40 women who drove in a convoy in Riyadh in 1990, along with Madeha al-Ajroush, a psychotherapist in her mid-60s, who is also now in detention.

"Loujain, Aziza and other activists who use their real identities are very fearless", said the Saudi activist, who has campaigned online anonymously.

In recent years, she has been cautious about voicing her opinion on Twitter out of concern over a growing crackdown on rights advocates.

"These arrests are an unfortunate mistake, I think. And it's the role of the king to come up with a tactical plan to help us enact these strategies", he said.

Latest News