Saudi Arabia: Eight Female Prisoners Subjected to Horrific Abuse during Holy Month of Ramadan

Eight female prisoners have launched an open-ended hunger strike in Saudi jails since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, March 23, 2023, in protest against the human rights violations they were subjected to.

The Saudi female prisoners, including mothers, were jailed for tweeting or retweeting anti-regime posts. They were deprived of their beloved ones for freedom of expression charges.

In prison, they are denied their basic human rights, including family visits or phone contact or medical treatment. They are kept in solitary confinement amid inhuman detention conditions, deepening their suffering.

Among the female hunger strikers is the prominent activist Salma al-Shehab who is serving a 27-year prison sentence for re-tweeting anti-regime tweets.

The dental hygienist, who is studying a PhD at Leeds University in the UK, was arrested as she returned to Saudi Arabia for a holiday in January 2021.

She was sentenced to six years in prison in August 2022. This was later increased to 34 years, and then lowered to 27 years in January 2023.

 Al-Shehab was charged for using the internet to “cause public unrest and destabalise civil and national security.”

The Saudi woman appears to have been denounced to Saudi authorities through a crime-reporting app that users in the kingdom can download to Apple and Android phones.

A review of Leeds PhD student Salma al-Shehab’s tweets and interactions shows she was messaged by a person using a Saudi account on November 15, 2020, after she posted a mildly critical tweet in response to a Saudi government post about a new public transportation contract.

The user told Shehab that he had reported her on the Saudi app, which is called Kollona Amn, or We Are All Security. It is not clear whether the Saudi officials responded directly to the report, but the 34-year-old mother was arrested two months later.

Salma al-Shehab and her striking colleagues were all brought before trials that did not meet the basic international human rights standards of fair trial.

In this regard, we stress the need for an urgent international intervention to put an end to the Saudi repressive and unfair practices against the dissident voices, to investigate all the unfair prison sentences issued against them, and to guarantee their right to a fair trial.

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