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“Human rights are rights inherent to all human being, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.” However, in places such as Saudi Arabia, “Research group Freedom House” gave the Saudi government the lowest rank for its 2018 Freedom in the World ranking, saying that it is an “absolute monarchy” which restricts almost all political right and civil liberties”. Unfortunately, Saudi authorities have been abusing their power and using it to detain human right activist, with no given reason, for months on end while being treated horribly and having to endure many unpleasant situations.
Saudi Arabia has a very long history of torture that is used against prisoners that some may or may not know about. According to, The Guardian, In the Kingdom, authorities primarily use anti-terrorism laws to “defend” their part in mass torture. Flogging, being repeatedly hit with a whip or stick, has been the most used method of torture, while other methods include “cross amputations” – the opposite hand and foot are removed. These are not the only methods used as sexual harassment, electrocution, and one detainee being hung from a ceiling.
According to The Week, Saudi Arabian authorities have made severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and detained activists. Despite limited reforms, women have been faced with “systemic discrimination” and are poorly protected against violence including sexual harassment. There was a poll done in June by Thomson Reuters Foundation, where it was found that “Saudi Arabia is the fifth most dangerous country in the world for women”. Human Rights Activists are being detained in the Dhahban Prison by Saudi authorities, and while captive they are being tortured, sexually harassed and other “ill-treatment during interrogation”. The women that have been detained for using their voice to raise awareness regarding Human rights violations have opened up and shared detailed accounts of their torture, sexual abuse, and all round ill-treatment by authorities to a court and have since been threatened to face prison time for their nonviolent activism. After a number of testimonies given by the women, it was revealed that the most common way in which they were repeatedly tortured was by electrocution and flogging, this would often time lead to them not being and to walk properly or stand altogether. Further, it was reported that one activist was hung from a ceiling, and another subjected to sexual harassment by masked interrogators. Along with some women not being able to stand or walk properly many were left with scars and bruises on their body and uncontrollable shaking of the hand, one woman even revealed that she attempted to take her own life many times while being held in prison.
To add on, many of the activist detained have disclosed during their trials that Saudi authorities would use torture to get “confessions” out of them so they could use the false information to punish them for not feeling sorry or regretting what they have done and to make them swear they will not further denounce the government. These “confessions” were the activist stating how they were making their voices heard in a non-violent way which authorities would use to form grim sentences, including the death penalty with no further investigation into the claim to see if they were truly harmful and illegal.
In May of 2018, well-known female activists who have been campaigning for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, such as the right to drive, began to be targeted by the Saudi authorities. Many of the women protesting against this had been imprisoned just before the rest of the world applauded the lifting of this ban. Shortly after, more arrests were made, included in these arrests was Samar Badawi – who received the “US International Women of Courage award” in early August. Those who have been arrested have been given the label of “traitors” and are facing extremely long prison time. Female activists from Saudi Arabia who were also being targeted during this time by authorities, were able to escape arrest. However, they are too afraid to give their names and speak about the actions being taken by authorities as they fear of being punished.
May 14, 2019, according to Amnesty International, marked the very first anniversary of multiple arrests made on influential women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. The past year has been a disgraceful year for human rights in the Kingdom where not only activists but, journalists, academics, and writers were targeted by authorities and detained in the Dhahban Prison. In the past few years, Saudi Arabian activists, including women human rights defenders, have endured terrible circumstances being unable to speak or see their loved ones for months on end as well as no given access to a legal representative. The activists that have been detained even face time in prison as a ‘punishment’ for their peaceful activism. Recently, there have been many cases of women coming forth to share the details of what was being done to them while detained by Saudi authorities.
The Saudi prosecutor’s office announced that it had investigated a group of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, who have been held without charge since May 2018, and said that they would soon be indicted, brought before a court. At least 10 human rights defenders, including several women human rights defenders, have been victims of torture, including sexual violence, and other forms of ill-treatment during the first three months of their detention in 2018. These persons were held incommunicado during this period and could not contact their families or lawyers. In May of 2018, well-known female activists who have been campaigning for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, such as the right to drive, began to be targeted by the Suadi authorities. Many of the women protesting against this had been imprisoned just before the rest of the world applauded the lifting of this ban. Shortly after, more arrests were made, included in these arrests was Samar Badawi – who received the “US International Women of Courage award” in early August. Those who have been arrested have been given the label of “traitors” and are facing extremely long prison time.
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