Lina Al-Sharif: A Gynecologist Arrested on Freedom of Speech Charges

A total media blackout was imposed on the May 2021 crackdown victims, including social media activists and influencers.

Dr. Lina Al-Sharif, 30, is one of those detained during the crackdown. Lina was a gynaecologist in a Saudi hospital.

She was active on social media using a pseudonym. She used her social media account to express herself over social and political issues in the Kingdom.

As a gynaecologist, Lina was aware enough of the domestic violence phenomenon. She shed light on many cases, calling on the Saudi authorities to intervene and put an end to domestic violence against Saudi women.

However, her tweets annoyed Saudi authorities. She received many threats on her Twitter account before being detained over freedom of expression charges.

Lina’s fate remained unknown for four months. In September 2021, the Saudi authorities revealed, in a response letter to the appeals sent by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, that Lina was being held in the notorious Al-Ha’ir prison. The prison is built on an area of 19 million square feet and is run by the Saudi secret police, where dozens of political prisoners are being held under tight security measures.

According to the response letter, Lina was arrested under the Combating and Financing Terrorism Law, a controversial law that was ratified by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). This was the first and last information disclosed about Lina, who is still under enforced disappearance as of today.

We condemn in the strongest terms the Saudi policy of enforced disappearance. Unfortunately, there is no specific legal legislation that criminalizes or limits the policy’s use.

We also call on the international community to press the Saudi authorities to disclose the fate of all those who have forcibly disappeared in the Kingdom.

We further emphasize the critical importance of mobilizing strong public opinion to pressure Saudi authorities to release all political prisoners and raise awareness about their plight. Let’s be the voice of the voiceless to achieve justice and democracy.

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