Tony Lloyd slams Saudi authorities for ‘shameful treatment of women human rights defenders’

Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, is demanding Saudi authorities lift all restrictions on women human rights defenders and ensure that they are fully granted their basic rights.

Tony said, 
“In 2018, women who led the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia were systematically rounded up, arrested, tortured, and portrayed in official Saudi media as traitors and spies.

“Through international pressure, those women have now been conditionally released from prison but they remain subject to restrictions of their basic rights, including bans on working, travelling abroad, and severe censorship of their social media activity.

“This ought to be unacceptable to everybody. On International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, I’m demanding Saudi authorities immediately and unconditionally free all women targeted for their human rights activism, to drop all charges against them and to provide them appropriate compensation.

“No one should endure harsh persecution for their peaceful activism for basic human rights.”

Tony joins co-signatories in signing a petition organised by ALQST, a human rights organisation that documents and promotes human rights in Saudi Arabia, in expressing their solidarity and support for Saudi women human rights defenders. The petition states that “all of the [women human rights defenders] arrested in 2018 have now been conditionally released from prison, most recently including Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah and Loujain al-Hathloul in 2021. However, since their release they have remained subject to heavy restrictions and curtailment of their basic rights. Loujain al-Hathloul, for example, faces three years of probation and a five-year travel ban.”

The petition also states that “several of the [women human rights defenders] were targeted through state-led smear campaigns in the media branding them as traitors and enemies of the state, and they were tried under the Counter-Terrorism Law on charges construed as terrorism against the state and social fabric.

“This perpetuates their isolation from the rest of society following release from prison and deters others from socialising or engaging with the WHRDs or their families for fear that they too may become targets of state suspicion and persecution.”