Middle East

‘This is the time to release my sister, Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul’

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Alia al-Hathloul is the sister of Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi women’s rights activist who has been in jail for more than two years without trial. In an interview with FRANCE 24, Alia al-Hathloul said she was “very worried” about the worsening health of her sister, who began a hunger strike on October 26. With Saudi Arabia poised to host a G20 summit from Saturday, Hathloul appealed to the Saudi authorities to release her sister.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Brussels, the sister of jailed Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul urged Western leaders to use the upcoming G20 summit to pressure the Saudi regime to free her sister and other female activists. Alia al-Hathloul expressed regret that Riyadh had refrained from doing so until now, but said she believes the kingdom needs to revamp its image and that hosting such a summit could prompt them to make such a gesture.

Hathloul said her sister had begun a hunger strike in late October to protest against a lack of regular contact with her parents. She said the family was “very worried” about the deterioration of Loujain’s health, stressing that their repeated requests to the Saudi authorities for an update had gone unanswered.

She added that the incoming Biden administration in Washington was “feared” by Riyadh and would likely be more demanding than the Trump administration when it comes to human rights.

Hathloul criticised the “absurd” charges against her sister and other female activists, saying they were punished for simply speaking their minds. She added that although the Saudi authorities had allowed women to drive and relaxed some other rules, they refused to admit that this was in part because of advocacy efforts by activists.    

>> Saudi women’s summit: Rights groups accuse organisers of glossing over abuses



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