December 7th 2014, Via October 26th Driving Campaign
October 26th Driving campaign expresses its deep concern for the recent arrests and detention of two women activists who drove their cars to the Eastern border of Albatha’a in Saudi Arabia.
The first woman, Mrs. Loujain Alhathloul, carries a UAE driving license valid for driving in all Gulf Council Countries, arrived on her own car to the Eastern border on 12 pm, Sunday 30th November 2014. She was asked by the border’s authority to park her car on the side and her passport was confiscated. Officers did not allow Mrs. Alhathloul to pass through and informed her to wait for further orders from their superiors. She spent the day and night in her car on the border waiting for orders. In the next morning, Mrs. Maysaa Alamoudi, decided to travel from Dubai, UAE to the Saudi port to support and provide Mrs. Alhathloul with supplies for potential delays. Mrs. Alamoudi parked her car before the port, walked to the officials and informed the officers at the Saudi port that she has no intention to enter Saudi Arabia. Officers asked her then to go back to her car and make a u-turn through the Saudi port to go back to UAE. When she entered the Saudi port, she was immediately arrested by female officers, her car was confiscated and her personal items including her identification papers were confiscated before she was taken to Alahsa prison. Likewise, Mrs. Loujain Alhatloul was informed by the officers in the afternoon of the next day that she is now allowed to drive inside the Saudi port. Ms. Alhathloul drove her car through only to find a police force waiting to arrest her and escort her to Alahsa girls’ correctional facility. The families of the two women were not able to reach them for two days and lawyers were not able to attend the interrogation or get a copy of the charges against them to date. Additional twenty five days of detention were issued after a false informal confirmation to the families that both will be released today if media attention was avoided.
Therefore, we request the Ministry of interior to put an end to the arbitrary arrests of activists based on their legitimate human rights work and their peaceful expression of opinions. Article six of the prevention of internet crimes law in Saudi Arabia – stating that any use of the internet to promote information which may affect national unity or incite public opinions – has been repeatedly used against activists to silence them and justify the lengthy and harsh sentences issued against them whether in form of travel bans, prison terms or fines. We stress that both women did not in any way broke the law of Saudi Arabia and therefore should not be subjected to any unlawful detention, interrogation or any means of intimidation. The safety and liberty of the women should be protected as Saudi Arabia is a member country of the UN and obliged to fulfill its international, regional, and national obligation in granting citizens autonomy and right of movement
without fear of reprisals for practicing or defending their rights. We ask the Minister of interior, prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to acknowledge the role of women human rights defenders and immediately release the two activists without any further delays. Additionally, we ask the Saudi authority to respect its commitment towards women human rights in practice. The safety and wellbeing of both activists are the direct responsibility of the Minister of interior and he will be held accountable for the violation of their rights by their families and other women activists by any means available.
October 26th Driving Campaign