05/03/2019, 00.00
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Riyadh, releases four other activists: subjected to violence in detention

They are part of a group of 11 feminists arrested last year and on trial: I am currently awaiting a verdict.  Among the accusations, that of having had "contacts" with "foreign parties" and promoted campaigns for human rights.  The release of a fifth person has not been confirmed.  No comment from the Saudi authorities.


Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi authorities yesterday released (pending verdict) four more female rights activists, part of a group of 11 women arrested last year and tried for "contacts" with "foreign parties" and human rights campaigns.  The four come after the release of three other women activists released at the end of March, for a total of seven in the last two months.

According to reports from  London based human rights organization Alqst,  and at the forefront of denouncing violations in the Wahhabi kingdom, "Hatoon al-Fassi, Amal al-Harbi, Maysaa al-Manea and Abeer Namankani have been released temporariIy ".  Some unconfirmed sources also report the release of a fifth woman, whose identity is not disclosed.

The Saudi authorities declined to comment on the reasons behind the release and the terms of the rediscovered (albeit temporary) freedom.

For some time an international pressure campaign has been activated for the release of the 11 activists arrested last May, a few weeks after the cancellation of the driving ban for women in the country.  At the start of the trial, the prosecutor accused them of endangering the nation's interests.  Among the charges were having had ties "with foreign journalists and human rights organizations".

Activists and NGOs have denounced abuses and violence against imprisoned women in recent weeks.  Prison authorities have inflicted torture on them using electric shock, whipping and sexual harassment.

On 8 March last, 36 nations at the UN Human Rights Council criticized Riyadh for human rights violations, with a particular reference to incarcerated women.  An absolute first which shows a growing pressure towards the façade "reforms" promoted by the 33 year old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the context of the Vision 2030 program. In reality the arrests of high ranking officials and entrepreneurs, the repression of activists and critical voices, the war in Yemen with civilian victims, including children, and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi are a cause for concern.

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