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Saudi woman arrives at a mosque to offer Eid al-Fitr morning prayers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Hassan Ammar/AP
Girls & Women

Saudi Arabia Continues to Arrest Women's Rights Activists: Reports

By Joanna Prisco

Saudi Arabia detained two women's rights advocates earlier this month and imposed a travel ban on several others, according to statements made to Reuters by international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The incidents are the latest in an wave of arrests said to be aimed at appeasing conservative elements in the Muslim kingdom, who are outraged over recently eased social rules implemented by heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — including the right to drive.

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HRW told Reuters that authorities had arrested writer and activist Nouf Abdelaziz on June 6 “after she expressed solidarity with seven activists detained in May.”

Mayaa al-Zahrani was also arrested after she reportedly posted a letter online from Abdelaziz following her arrest, HRW said.

These arrests follow incidents involving 12 prominent women’s activists who’ve been detained since May, most for campaigning for the right to drive.

Read More: Saudi Authorities Temporarily Release 8 Women's Rights Activists

According to Reuters, women still in detention include Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef, as well as the men Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, Mohammad al-Rabea, and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal.

"The Saudi government appears determined to leave its citizens without any space to show even rhetorical support for activists jailed in this unforgiving crackdown on dissent," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

"Nouf Abdelaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani's only 'crime' seems to be expressing solidarity with their fellow imprisoned activists."

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