Yesterday (March 27) around a dozen Saudi women's rights activists who had been arrested last year finally had their day in court. While in detention, they have been tortured psychologically and physically, and subjected to sexual abuse.
The women's rights activists were publicly smeared in the country's media, which referred to them as traitors. Some even called for capital punishment to be exacted upon them. Their families were harassed, and banned from travel.
In court, they described to the judge what had happened. They were electrocuted. They were lashed. They were sexually abused. They were threatened with rape and murder. Some had even attempted suicide.
Even the elder women - the ones who are grandmothers - were subjected to sexual abuse. This isn't in Saddam's Iraq or Assad's Syria or Gaddafi's Libya. This is in Saudi Arabia, under the "reformist" Mohammad bin Salman.
In response to all the first person testimonies, all the public prosecutor could say was that all their reports of severe abuse and torture are "baseless & spurious claims", even as the marks of torture are still on the women's bodies.
Today, three of the women who are on trial were released conditionally. Their trial still continues. More of the human rights activists are expected to be released next week, but we'll only believe it when it happens.
Some of the women had been forced to sign confessions, after torture and under threats of rape. This is confirmed at least in the case of @LoujainHathloul, but quite possibly happened with the others too.
Later, some of them were asked to sign "requests for royal pardon". This has been reported in the case of the brave @LoujainHathloul:
The most likely scenario is one we saw coming months ago: Conditional release, followed by conviction, followed by a royal pardon. That's how the criminal regime of psychopath Mohammad bin Salman plans to have its cake & eat it.
Under this scheme, the women will remain under the mercy of psychopath Mohammad bin Salman and his goons. They'd be banned from travel and from speaking to the media, surveilled 24/7, and perhaps even confined to house arrest.
Mohammad bin Salman would then think that he's weathered the storm and gotten rid of a massive PR problem he caused upon himself thanks to his abject (yet brutal) idiocy - while also ending the women's careers and using them as cautionary tales to scare women in his country.
Whether the plan of the brutal psychopath Mohammad bin Salman works or not is up to *you*. It's up to *you* whether their release creates more energy and more pressure on the psychopath, or whether he gets his way. It's up to *you* to raise more awareness about their plight.
Don't let this pass. Mohammad bin Salman has arrested some of the bravest women & men on this planet. He smeared them in the media and had them tortured into signing forced confessions. And he wants to get away with it. Do *not* let it pass.
If you have an elected representative, call them and ask them what they're planning to do to support Saudi Arabia's persecuted women's rights activists. If you don't, then use your voice here on social media. If you have a small account, tell your family and friends.
Anyone who works with MBS, who shakes his hands, who gives him a hug, who helps strengthen his grip on power... is an enemy of humanity, an enemy of women's rights, and a personal (yes, personal) enemy to me. It should be the same for you.
Here's a reminder that I'm putting together a team to work on human rights issues in the Arab region (and beyond). If you would like to volunteer, please head over to this page and sign up.…
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