Saudi Activist honored by European human rights prize

Loujain Al Hathloul was detained in 2018 and had been sentenced to prison for six years due to her campaign to remove the ban on women’s driving.

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Saudi Arabian human rights activist Loujain Al Hathloul was granted the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is accepted as one of the most prestigious awards of its kind. The 60,000-euro monetary award was also granted to her in an online ceremony for ‘outstanding civil society action in defense of human rights.” Al Hathloul was not able to present at the ceremony due to the ban on travel abroad imposed on her, following the release in February. She is also forbidden to speak to the media.

Al Hathloul expressed her gratefulness through a Twitter post, saying, “I am incredibly proud of women’s relentlessness to seek justice. I have much in my mind & heart to share, but I will, for now, say thank you, ladies & @PACE_news.”

Her sister Lina Al Hathloul accepted the award on Loujain’s behalf. Speaking during the acceptance ceremony, Lina highlighted the importance of international support in overcoming the injustices in Saudi Arabia.

Loujain Al Hathloul was detained in 2018 due to her campaign aiming to lift some sanctions imposing on women in Saudi Arabia, including male guardianship and a ban on women driving in public. Then, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban on women to drive in public as part of his reform program to modernize the Kingdom.

Even though she was released last September, her family’s and Loujain’s seeking for real justice is continuing. The family claimed that she had been tortured in prison. The Saudi court rejected the family’s allegations under the pretext of lack of evidence.

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