Responding to news reports that more people have been detained in Saudi Arabia – bringing to 11 the number imprisoned since last week – Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:
“Amnesty International is extremely concerned following reports that yet more individuals and activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia.
“Despite the international outcry at last week’s arrests, authorities have responded with even more repression in a desperate attempt to silence dissent and feminist voices speaking up for human rights.
“Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presents himself as a ‘reformer’, but his promises are meaningless if those who fought for women’s right to drive are now all behind bars for peacefully campaigning for freedom of movement and equality.
“We call on the authorities to reveal the whereabouts of these individuals and either charge them with a recognisable offence – or release them immediately.”
Many of the women’s rights defenders detained have campaigned against the long-standing ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. The ban is due to be lifted next month, with licenses being issued from 24 June.
Last week, Amnesty International identified six of those detained and called for their release following a chilling smear campaign orchestrated by the government to discredit them as “traitors”. In total, 11 people are now believed to have been detained.