WHEN IT comes to sheer courage of her convictions, Loujain al-Hathloul deserves high recognition. As an activist for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, she pushed hard to win what is taken for granted in the modern world: the right for women to drive themselves. For her activism, Ms. Hathloul was imprisoned more than a year ago and tortured. She remains behind bars, even as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the approval for women to drive and to ease the oppressive system of male guardianship.
Ms. Hathloul and five other women were arrested in May of last year. Saudi authorities waged a smear campaign on social media against them, labeling them as “traitors” who pose a threat to state security for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric.” Subsequently, Ms. Hathloul and others were tortured with electric shocks, beatings and waterboarding. Ms. Hathloul showed her visiting parents black scars on her thighs last December. Her family has charged that Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to the crown prince, was present during some of the torture sessions and threatened to rape and kill her. The Saudi government has denied it. Mr. Qahtani oversaw the hit squad that murdered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi last October inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Alejandro Montenegro Díaz
Now comes word from Ms. Hathloul’s family of a further disgraceful act, on top of imprisoning and torturing her. Ms. Hathloul’s brother and sister said the Saudi authorities proposed a deal that she would be released if she denied she was tortured. According to the family, the first demand was a written statement, which she was prepared to sign, but when the Saudi officials then insisted that she also record a video, she refused. Her brother Walid wrote on Twitter, “When the state security asked her to sign the document for the video release, she immediately ripped the document. She told them by asking me to sign this document you are involved in the the [sic] cover up and you’re simply trying defend Saud Al-Qahtani who was overseeing the torture.” Her sister Lina wrote, “Idk what I’m risking by writing this. Maybe it will harm my sister too. But I can’t keep it to myself. Loujain has been proposed a deal : deny the torture and she’ll be free. Whatever happens I am certifying it 1 more time:Loujain has been brutally tortured and sexually harassed.”
The Saudi jails are full of dissidents and activists who simply wanted to speak their minds. More than a dozen of those in prison have advocated women’s rights . Financial investors recently tempted by the anticipated share offering in Saudi Aramco should be clear-eyed about whom they are shaking hands with. These are cowards who have not only murdered a journalist and tortured an activist but also attempted to cover up their brutality. Those who invest in the tyrant’s realm are also enabling his crimes
The Post’s View: Saudi Arabia is heinously torturing female activists. It must face consequences.
The Post’s View: Pressure on Saudi Arabia might finally be starting to work. Keep it up.
The Post’s View: A path has been laid out for holding Khashoggi’s murderers accountable
Kirk Rudell: The tragedy of Fahad Albutairi and Loujain al-Hathloul
Urooba Jamal: Why my friend Loujain al-Hathloul deserves the Nobel Peace Prize