Saudi Arabia sets two women rights activists free

The two prominent women activists were detained in July 2018 as a part of the Saudi government’s large-scale crackdown operation against opponents.

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London-based Saudi human rights watchdog organization, ALQST, announced that the Saudi government emancipated two women’s rights activists who were arrested almost three years ago, after their sentences expired. The rights group confirmed their release through a post shared on the official Twitter account.

“Human rights defenders Samar Badawi and Nassima Al Sadah have been released following the expiry of the sentences against them,” the rights group tweeted. The two activists were arrested in 2018, with dozens of others who were accused of harming Saudi interests. At the time, detentions drew large-scale international condemnation.

Samar Badawi is also known as the sister of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who received 10 years imprisonment in 2012 due to criticizing Saudi officials.

Being from the Shia-majority of the Kingdom’s Qatif province, Nassima Al Sadah, on the other hand, was a journalist who published pieces on several websites and social media networks.

Both Badawi and Al Sadah have campaigned for women’s right to drive, and for the abolishment of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.

Due to her efforts to improve women’s situation in the Kingdom, Badawi was honored by the International Women of Courage Award in 2012. She was among the first women who launched a petition campaign calling the government to allow women to drive and vote and run in local elections.

ALQST for Human Rights hailed their release through a post shared on Twitter, which read: “These brave women should have never been detained in the first place. They should have been appreciated for leading change in Saudi Arabia.”

Last February, another prominent Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain Al Hathloul, was released after she had served half of her sentence. However, she has been banned from leaving the country for five years.

In June 2018, Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on female drivers, which was a heavily criticized law in the eyes of the international community. The move was, at that time, introduced as a part of social reforms led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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