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20.04.2021 04:27 News >> Saudi Activist Wins Top European Rights Prize

Saudi Activist Wins Top European Rights Prize

Loujain al Hathloul campaigned to end ban on women’s driving.

Saudi Arabian rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was detained for campaigning to allow women to drive in the country, was honored Monday with the prestigious eighth Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
She was awarded the 60,000-euro ($72,238) prize in an online ceremony for "outstanding civil society action in defense of human rights." Hathloul, who was released in February after spending 1,001 days in prison and is forbidden from travelling outside the country as well as speaking to the media, was not present for the ceremony.
"I am incredibly proud of women's relentlessness to seek justice. I have much in my mind & heart to share but I will, for now, say thank you ladies & @PACE_news," she said in a tweet.
She thanked the two shortlisted nominees -- nuns of Nepal's Drukpa Order, who promote equality, sustainability and tolerance in their home villages in the Himalayas, and Congolese human rights activist Julienne Lusenge, who has been documenting sexual abuse and acts of violence against women.
Her sister Lina Alhathloul, who accepted the award on her behalf, during the ceremony said international support is the only way we can expose the injustices in Saudi Arabia.
"Loujain sacrificed herself to fight for a better life for Saudi women. Because of her activism, she was kidnapped, illegally imprisoned, brutally tortured, placed in solitary confinement for months, and now, sentenced as a terrorist. For years now, the Saudi regime has been trying to tarnish her image, to erase any support for her, and to make her forgotten," she said in a statement released by the parliamentary assembly.
Hathloul was detained in May 2018 along with several women activists in an apparent crackdown on dissent in the kingdom. She was at the forefront of the campaign to end the rudimentary system of male guardianship and ban on women driving in public. Before and after her arrest, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unleashed a series of reforms including lifting the archaic ban on driving, allowing women to drive in public, in a bid to modernize the Saudi society.
The historic reforms gave much cause for celebration for Saudi women but were deemed half-measured as Hathloul and dozens of activists remained imprisoned, charged with terrorism. Upon her release, Hathloul's family demanded real justice and claimed she was tortured in the prison. A Saudi court dismissed the accusations, citing a lack of evidence. -



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