Families of women imprisoned in Saudi Arabia emotionally, physically tormented: Legal activist

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture shows a general view of maximum-security al-Ha'ir Prison, located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Reuters)

A Saudi legal activist says family members of women being kept behind bars at detention centers across the kingdom are physically and psychologically tormented, as a brutal crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against political opponents, human rights campaigners and intellectuals widens in the country.

“Apart from brutal tortures that female detainees in Saudi Arabia are subjected to, authorities place intolerable mental, psychological and emotional burdens on their families,” Nada al-Saffar said in a post published on Twitter on Saturday.

She added “Saudi security institutions persistently threaten the families about their fate and those of their detained loved ones.”

“These tortures are applied against both parties, the families and female detainees, through different means; and unfortunately the torturers are under complete protection of the ruling Saudi regime,” Saffar noted.

The report comes as the rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, stated in a post on its official Twitter page that Saudi authorities are holding three people without charge or trial.

The rights group identified the detainees as Abdullah al-Tuwaijri, Othman al-Zahrani, and Talal Abdullah.

The Prisoners of Conscience went on to say that the three men are being held at the maximum-security al-Ha'ir Prison, located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Riyadh, despite the fact they have not been involved in any crime.

A new report has revealed that imprisoned political opponents and pro-democracy campaigners in Saudi Arabia are being murdered, sexually assaulted, and subjected to “sheer” brutality at detention centers across the kingdom.

The study, compiled by the Britain-based human rights group Grant Liberty, identified 311 prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned since Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman took de-facto control of the ultra-conservative country.

The report showed that 53 prisoners have been tortured, six were sexually assaulted, and 14 were pushed into undergoing hunger strikes.

It also looked at the plight of 23 women’s rights activists, 11 of whom were still behind bars and identified 54 journalists.

A total of 22 of the prisoners were arrested for crimes that they carried out when they were still children – five of them were later put to death. According to the report, an additional 13 were facing the death penalty, while four had died in custody.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

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