Alert Türkiye: Jailed, a woman human rights activist tells her story (video)
Saudi Arabia
Urgent Interventions

Incommunicado detention of Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz and Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani and ongoing arbitrary detention of other 7 women's rights defenders



SAU003 / 0518 / OBS 073.2

Incommunicadodetention /

Arbitrarydetention /



June21, 2018

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDHand the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inSaudi Arabia.


TheObservatory has been informed by ALQST about the incommunicado detention ofjournalist Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz andwomen’s rights defender Ms. MayyaAl-Zahrani, as well as of the ongoingarbitrary detention of human rights defenders Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Azizaal-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh,Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'aland Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, founding member of the Saudi Civil andPolitical Rights Association (ACPRA),all women’s rights defenders

According tothe information received, on June 6, 2018, Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz was arrestedfollowing a police raid on her home in Riyadh and taken to an unknown locationwhere she has been held incommunicado ever since. Ms Abdulaziz is a journalistwho has been vocal on the ongoing wave of arrest which is targeting many humanrights defenders, including numerous women since May 15, 2018, ahead of the entry into force on June 24, 2018 ofthe Royal Decree that will allow women to drive (see background information).

Ms. MayyaAl-Zahrani subsequently published on her blog a letter written by Ms. Nouf Abdulazizprior to her arrest[1] andcriticised Ms. Abdulaziz’s arrest. On June 9, 2018 Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani was inturn arrested from her home in Khobar. At the time of publication of thisUrgent Appeal, Ms. Mayya Al-Sahrani has had no access to her lawyer and nofurther information about Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani’s whereabouts could be gathered.

TheObservatory further recalls that Ms. Aziza al-Youssef,Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'al and Mr. Ibrahimal-Mudaimeegh remain detained in Dahban prison inJeddah, while Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi remains detained incommunicado in anunknown location since his arrest. While pro-governmental media outletsreported that they have been arrested under vague accusations of “suspiciouscontacts with foreign entities” and “financial support to enemies overseas”, noformal charges have yet been reportedly pressed against them (see backgroundinformation). Moreover, they are reportedly all detained in solitaryconfinement, without access to their lawyers and they could only speak withtheir families once or twice since their arrests.

TheObservatory expresses its utmost concern over this wave of arrests andarbitrary detentions, which only seems to aim at sanctioning peaceful andlegitimate human rights activities in particular in defence of women’s humanrights.

TheObservatory urges Saudi authorities to immediately disclose Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz,Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani and Mr. Mohamedal-Bejadi’s whereabouts and to ensure that all detained human rights defendershave unhindered access to their family and lawyers. Furthermore, theObservatory urges Saudi authorities to release the above-mentioned human rightsdefenders immediately andunconditionally, and to put an end to all acts of harassment against them as wellas all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

Background information:

On May 15,2018 at 2pm, Saudi police forces raided the home of Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul,arrested her in her bedroom and transferred her to Al-Ha'ir prison, and then toDahban prison in Jeddah[2].

On the sameday, women's rights activist and psychoanalyst Madiha al-Ajroush was also arrested. Through her clinical practice,Ms. al-Ajroush has offered help and psychotherapy to several victims ofdomestic violence as well as refugee children in camps in Lebanon and Jordan.She was released from Dahban prison in Jeddah on May 24, 2018.

Within thesame context, the authorities arrested prominent women’s rights activist Azizaal-Youssef, from her home. She was one of the first to call for women to beallowed to drive, and has been notably active in defending women’s rights,workers’ rights and civil and political rights. She tried to set up a refugefor battered women and girls who are not accepted back from government socialcare institutions by their families, but the authorities turned down herapplication. Pressure had mounted on Ms. al-Youssef over the past year, and shewas increasingly called in for questioning. The authorities prevented her fromcommenting on the Royal Decree allowing women to drive – which she, togetherwith other women’s rights activists, had brought about.

On the sameday, the authorities arrested Ms. Aishaal-Mana, Dean of Al Mana College and one of Saudi Arabia’s earliestfeminists. She took part in the 1990 campaign against the ban on women driving,in which she and some other women drove their cars, and wrote a book on thetopic, entitled The Sixth of November. She was previously imprisoned andthreatened by the authorities. Ms. Aisha al-Mana was released on May 23, 2018.

Ms. Hessah Al-Sheikh, one of the leadingcampaigners of the right of women to drive, and Ms. Walaa Al-Shubbar, a defender of victims of domestic violence aswell as campaigner against the male guardianship system, were also arrested onthe same day, together with Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, an active supporter ofwomen’s right to drive. On May 24, 2018, Ms. Hessah Al-Sheikh and Ms. WalaaAl-Shubbar were released from Dahban prison in Jeddah.

Authoritiesalso proceeded on May 15, 2018 to the arrest of Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'al, a philanthropist who was listed as aboard member in the application for an NGO to protect women survivors ofviolence, as well as of Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh, a former member ofthe Saudi Council of Ministers’ Commission of Experts. Mr. al-Mudaimeegh hashandled pro bono defence in some of the most sensitive cases in the country,and took on the cases of several members of the ACPRA. He defended human rightsactivists Ms. Al-Hathloul and Messrs. Waleed Abu al-Khair, Mohamedal-Oteibi, Abdullah al-Atawi, Essam Koshak, Essaal-Nukhaifi and many other prisoners of conscience. He has also spoke outagainst Israeli crimes toward the Palestinian people and on other human rightsissues, which led authorities to force him to close down his Twitter account in November 2017. On May5, 2018, Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh went to the airport on his way to getmedical treatment abroad but found himself unexpectedly prevented fromtravelling, and when he tried to ascertain the reason for the travel ban he wasmet with personal abuse and threatened with arrest for asking why he had beenbanned from travelling. He continued to be harassed and threatened until beingarrested on May 15, 2018.

In addition, on May 24, 2018, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi was arrested afterpolice forces raided his house in Buraidah at 11pm and took him to an unknownplace.


Pleasewrite to the authorities in Saudi Arabia asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstancesthe physical and psychological integrity of Ms. NoufAbdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan,Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Ms. Aisha al-Mana, Ms. Madihaal-Ajroush, Ms. Hessah Al-Sheikh, Ms. Walaa Al-Shubbar, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah,Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh as well as all human rights defenders inSaudi Arabia;

ii. Immediately disclose Ms.Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani and Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi’s whereabouts;

iii. Ensure all detained human rights defenders haveunhindered access to their family and lawyers;

iii. Immediately andunconditionally release Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. MayyaAl-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms.Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh, as well as all detained human rights defenders in SaudiArabia, as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishingthem for their legitimate human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to all forms ofharassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan,Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Ms. Aisha al-Mana, Ms. Madihaal-Ajroush, Ms. Hessah Al-Sheikh, Ms. Walaa Al-Shubbar, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha'al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh and allhuman rights defenders in the country so they are able to carry out their work withoutunjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal;

v. Comply in all circumstances with all the provisions of the UnitedNations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its Articles 1,6(c) and 12.2;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and instruments.


· His Majesty, King Salmanbin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the two HolyMosques, Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125; Email:; Twitter: @KingSalman

· His Excellency, MohammadBin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Fax: (via Ministry of theInterior) +966 11 403 3125; Email:

· H.E. Waleed bin MohammadAl Samaani, Minister of Justice, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Fax: + 966 11 4057777; Email:

· His Royal HighnessPrince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior, Kingdomof Saudi Arabia. Fax: + 966 11 401 1111 / + 966 11 401 1944 / + 966 11 4031125; Email:

· H.E. Adel bin Ahmed ElJubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax: + 966 11 403 0645 ; Email:

· H.E. Abdulaziz Alwasil,Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UnitedNations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 758 00 00. Email:

· H.E. Abdulrahman binSoliman Al-Ahmed, Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Belgium.Fax: +32 2 6468538. Email:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Saudi Arabia in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,June 21, 2018

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of humanrights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:


· Teland fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 4939 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] The letter is available here:

[2] This is not her first arrest. In November 2014, Saudiauthorities arrested Ms. al-Hathloul after she drove herself from Abu Dhabi tothe Saudi border. She was held at a juvenile detention centre for 73 daysbefore being released in February 2015. The authorities detained her again inJune 2017 when she arrived at Dammam airport but released her after severaldays. @font-face { font-family: "Arial";}@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math";}@font-face { font-family: "MS Mincho";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFooter, li.MsoFooter, div.MsoFooter { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }span.Caractresdenotedebasdepage { vertical-align: super; }span.PieddepageCar { }span.En-tteCar { }span.NotedebasdepageCar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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