Jailed Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul on hunger strike, sister says

Jailed Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul on hunger strike, sister says
Women's right activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has started a hunger strike due to her conditions in detention.
3 min read
27 October, 2020
Al-Hathloul has been in jail since 2018 [Getty]

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has started a hunger strike to protest her conditions in detention, her sisters have announced.

Al-Hathloul began her hunger strike at 7pm Monday due to restrictions on family visits.

"Today, Monday, 26 October 2020 at 7pm Riyadh time, my sister Loujain announced a hunger strike due to the administration of Al-Ha'ir prison depriving her of the right to contact [her] family," tweeted Loujain's sister Alia.

Loujain's other sister, Lina, also confirmed that her sister had started the protest.

"My parents had a visit with Loujain today - it was not a good meeting. Loujain needs our support as she is going on a hunger strike. We will be releasing an action to support Loujain ASAP. Please watch this space," tweeted Lina Alhathloul.

Al-Hathloul was deported from the UAE to Saudi Arabia in 2018 after speaking out against a ban on women drivers in the kingdom.

She was detained, along with around a dozen other women's rights activists, by Saudi authorities.

Although women were soon given the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, Al-Hathloul has remained behind bars since then.

She has accused her jailers of torture, sexual abuse, and keeping her in solitary confinement.

Her hunger strike relates to recent restrictions on family visits, which Saudi authorities claim are in place due to the coronavirus epidemic, although Loujain has also been barred from speaking to them via telephone.

Al-Hathloul went on hunger strike for six days in August after authorities cut contact to her family for four months.

"Yesterday during the visit Loujain told (our parents) she is exhausted of being mistreated and deprived from hearing her family's voices," Lina told Reuters.

"She told them she will start a hunger strike starting yesterday evening until they allow her regular calls again."

Lina told the news agency that her sister had been in contact - by phone or in person - with her family only four times since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, most recently on Monday.

Saudi authorities have been extremely secretive about Al-Hathloul's case and detention.

Riyadh has been sketchy about the charges against Al-Hathloul, although her family believe it is due to her contact with foreign journalists and digital privacy training, according to the news agency.

Human rights campaigners have called on world leaders to boycott Saudi Arabia's hosting of the G20 summit next month, in protest at the jailing of Al-Hathloul and other activists.

Crown Prince Mohammed has launched an extra-judicial crackdown on a wide-range of perceived opponents from leading royals and clerics to human rights campaigners and journalists.

In October 2018, a hit squad - including officials closely linked to the crown prince - was sent from Riyadh to Istanbul when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the kingdom's consulate.

Intelligence agencies, including the CIA, believe the crown prince was linked to the murder although US President Donald Trump has been careful not the criticise the crown prince.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected

The New Arab - Newsleter Signup https://www.thenewarab.co.uk