The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned on Tuesday the arrest of Saudi women rights defender Souad Al-Shammary because of a tweet in which she describes Saudi society as “male-dominant.”
Al-Shammary was arrested and subject to her first interrogation session on 28 October at the Bureau of Investigation in Jeddah. Her lawyer was prevented from attending the session, said ANHRI. Authorities accused her of provoking rebellion and promoting cynicism towards religious texts and religious scholars.
“The Saudi authorities still insist on targeting activists and human rights defenders, and the owners of opinion and conscience in an attempt to muffle their mouths, and silence the voices of demands of political and social reforms in the country,” said ANHRI.
ANHRI, the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) called for her release. GCHR said that it believes the arrest and prosecution of Al-Shammary is in direct violation to her right to freedom of expression.
GCHR also asked the authorities to guarantee her physical and psychological integrity and security while she remains in detention, and to guarantee in all circumstances that online activists and all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
ANHRI also condemned on Monday the arrest of human rights lawyer and head of the Democracy and Civil Rights Center Gadie Abdallah Nofal. Syrian authorities arrested Nofal on 31 October from an immigration office close to the Syrian-Lebanese border, ANHRI said. He was on his way to Damascus after attending a human rights workshop in Beirut, and he was not allowed to call his family or lawyer.
“The Syrian regime is still practicing the same intransigence and violations against the owners of opinion and peaceful defenders of human rights, which is contrary to all international norms and conventions,” ANHRI said, calling on the Syrian authorities to set Nofal free.
The United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals.