Loujain al-Hathloul is currently up for trial in a court dealing with terrorism charges, under false accusations, according to OHCHR. Loujain is a feminist and human rights activist who has been detained for over two years in Saudi Arabia. Loujain was involved in peaceful protests with the interest of advancing human rights and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She brought with her no harm – simply good intentions, and strong, positive influence. Specifically, she was a big aid in advancing women’s rights to drive in Saudi Arabia, which is something just recently considered acceptable to do without a man’s permission within the past few years.
Near the time the ban on women’s driving was lifted, many female activists like Loujain were arrested in May 2018. The Guardian says she was detained in a violent manner, being thrown into the trunk of a car blindfolded and taken to a place she’s named the “Palace of Torture.” She was continuously tortured, raped, and threatened with death, and after a month of detainment, her brother tells The Guardian, she called from a hotel in Jeddah, but avoided mentioning any details related to the case, and sounded as though she was being told what to say. Besides this, they offered her no contact with her family for long periods of time throughout these two plus years. She went on a hunger strike in protest of her unlawful detainment, but in refute, the guards did not let her rest for more than 2 hours at a time, leading to extreme psychological distress. These conditions are extremely alarming, and it is clear that she is not being treated with any human decency.
She appeared in court a month later, with her family claiming she appeared very weak, reported by The Guardian. There is no reason for her to be tried in a court that deals with terrorism charges, and on top of that, the reason for her charges are only a way to silence and send a message to other activists and feminist who try to change the country’s hard set beliefs. The charges held against her are related to talking to journalists and diplomats of activist groups, as well as other similar matters. A quote taken from The Guardian by Hashem Hashem, a regional campaigner for Amnesty International states: “We are concerned that this transfer is to further muzzle peaceful and critical voices and to punish activists such as Loujain for demanding change and reform.” She and her team are not even given proper time to prepare for defence in these trials as they are often cancelled and rescheduled 24 hours before the hearings, per OHCHR.
With concerns about Loujain’s health and the unnecessary charges against her peaceful protests, the UN is concerned for her safety and requests that all charges be dropped and she be released along with all the other innocent human right’s activists, reported by The Guardian. Loujain al-Hathloul and other human right’s activists who are advocating for change in a positive direction are being wrongfully held and used as examples of what could happen if others try and influence change in the country. Even if it is for the betterment of society.