HRW confirmed access to new evidence over alleged abuse of renowned political detainees in Saudi jails. Loujain al-Hathloul is on case among others.
Saudi Arabia failed to conduct an impartial investigation into claims about the torture of Saudi activists, especially female political players. “Electric shocks, beatings, whippings, and sexual harassment” are among the ways Saudi officials use to torture the detainees.
A recent study based on evidence provided by a current jail guard says activists like Loujain al-Hathloul suffered rape and other sorts of tortures while held in Saudi prisons. Al-Hathloul is one in a group of activists detained by Saudi security forces in 2018. The marked massive crackdown against political activists in the kingdom.
Al-Hathloul reiterated claims about her tortures with electric shocks, water boarding, and rape following her detention three years ago. Saudi appeals court, however, dismissed the claims after her temporary release from jail early in 2021.
An anonymous person introducing himself as the jail guard who talked to Human Rights Watch. The person claims Al-Hathloul was improperly groped and verbally harassed. “Loujain al-Hathloul was subjected to sexual harassment unprecedented to me from what I’ve witnessed,” HRW received in a text from the guard.
“They were relishing insulting her. They were mocking her that she is liberated and would not mind the harassment such as sticking their hands into her underwear or touching her thighs or spouting degrading words at her.”
The guard also made mention of a group of other people who’ve been under harsh tortures. Human rights campaigner Mohammed al-Rabea is a name among the other famous activists referred to by the anonymous guard. Al-Rabeais has been in the same group detained in 2018, and one of the last ones still in chain.
The released activists are mostly still under heavy security control.
A Prison Beyond the Jail
Almost all released dissidents and their families have been prohibited from leaving Saudi Arabia. Critics describe the post-release condition as a “state coercion” imposing a series of punishment that keeps them in a vulnerable state.
Al-Hathloul received a five-year and eight-month sentence for claimed offences related to terrorism late in 2020. Her sentence, however, was put in suspense, allowing her to be released two months later. She received a five-year probationary period and can’t leave the kingdom during this period.
The campaign against female activists garnered international outrage and cast light on Riyadh’s treatment of women. Under new crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, women have been provided with some personal freedom. The group, however, received little more than before when it comes to political and societal rights.
Saudi Arabia’s conduct on human rights has been under scrutiny following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post reporter, in Turkey. Khashoggi was an intense critic of Saudi policies and the kingdom’s political system. His murder, in Saudi consulate in Istanbul, attracted global attention regarding Saudi monarchy and its conduct on political dissidents.
A declassified report by American security agencies confirmed the role of Saudi high-rank officials, crown prince Mohammad bin Salman in specific, in the assassination operation. Joe Biden’s administration’s pledge to press the country for Khashoggi case, however, went off the way through political compromises.
Loujain al-Hathloul case is the outcome of a similar system in which being a political critic has heavy costs. Al-Hathloul has made attempts to illuminate the reality behind the kingdom’s system with glimmering hopes of reform.
The systematic torture of women, oriented by gender specificities, is not unprecedented in Saudi Arabia. Loujain al-Hathloul and other female dissidents in Saudi Arabia are victims of an ailing system whose primary objective is to preserve itself.