NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks to Lina al-Hathloul about her sister, Loujain, who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for her women’s rights activism.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This week, a team of women’s activists in Saudi Arabia is owing back in courtroom. Among the them is Loujain al-Hathloul. The team was imprisoned in 2018 when they had been campaigning for a woman’s right to generate in the kingdom. They’re however getting held in spite of the reality that gals ended up subsequently granted driving privileges following people arrests.
We’re joined now by Lina al-Hathloul from Brussels, who is Loujain’s sister. Welcome to the software.
LINA AL-HATHLOUL: Thank you pretty a lot for getting me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to ask first, how’s your sister carrying out? Have you been capable to hear from her?
AL-HATHLOUL: Effectively, essentially, I’m not authorized to have any call with her. But my parents are – visit her on a regular basis. And they have cell phone phone calls, much too. And she’s really solid. But the trouble is that she won’t realize what is occurring seriously simply because every little thing is just messed up. They restarted the demo. And she doesn’t have an understanding of anything at all about the method.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are they indicating that she’s done?
AL-HATHLOUL: So the costs are generally her CV, to be sincere. So they’re charging her with all her activism. They say that she has been in make contact with with international journalists. She’s also charged with implementing for a job at the U.N., which is really absurd.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It really is been nearly two many years because your sister was arrested, but her case hadn’t seriously been experimented with. And there was a – kind of a ten-month hiatus, proper? What is actually likely on?
AL-HATHLOUL: Yes. So she was arrested in May 2018. For 10 months, she didn’t have any legal costs. And considering that April till February 2020, she was held in solitary confinement without a new day for the trial. In February 2020, they restarted the trial. And now they’re just striving to attain time because – probably due to the fact the G-twenty is coming. So they in all probability have to show the world that they’re executing something, that she’s not held for nothing.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Does she have authorized counsel?
AL-HATHLOUL: My dad and mom are representing her, certainly.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But as I recognize it, your mom and dad have no law qualifications.
AL-HATHLOUL: They will not have any law background, but she chose to have them as an alternative of a law firm because the initially attorney required her to deny all of the prices and say that she didn’t do anything. And she reported no. What she needs is to say that, yes, she has done all of these functions, which is her activism, but she wants to exhibit that almost nothing is illegal.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Your sister is considered internationally as a political prisoner by quite a few corporations. And your sister and other activists have mentioned that they have been tortured in prison, that they were being sexually assaulted. Amnesty Worldwide has supported those allegations. Do you know if just about anything has changed in their ailments?
AL-HATHLOUL: The torture took place when she was arrested at the starting, so in – because – from May possibly 2018 to August 2018, where by she was held in an unofficial prison and exactly where my mothers and fathers did not know in which she was, in fact. And when she made use of to get in touch with them, she utilised to say that she’s in a lodge. We uncovered out at close of the day that this hotel is a torture facility the place they set political prisoners and they torture them.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We really should say that the Saudi federal government claimed the issue was investigated and identified these allegations not to be real. Since getting electrical power, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has lifted the ban on driving and letting ladies to get passports. This is one thing that your sister was advocating for. The query for quite a few persons is, why is she still staying held?
AL-HATHLOUL: When she was arrested, the crown prince had an job interview in Oct 2018, the place he was questioned about these female activists. And he claimed that they’re not activists. They are in jail for the reason that they are foreign agents, that they are spies. And he explained, word by word, that they have video clips. Tomorrow, we will exhibit you the movies. That was in Oct 2018.
A yr afterwards, he has an interview with “60 Minutes” where by they check with him accurately the identical query concerning my sister and the other women’s scenario. And he says that he has nothing to do with this and that the judiciary is unbiased. So definitely, this alter of narrative seriously assures me that what I was imagining from the commencing is that they are stopping all these people, all these activists so that they make the people today – the Saudi people today – understand that improve only arrives top down. And the persons should really not even try to make the changes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What I consider I am hearing you say is that you consider that this is far more a situation of placing activism by itself on trial so that it sends a information to other activists not to challenge the system.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What would you like to see transpire?
AL-HATHLOUL: I really hope that they launch them all due to the fact with all this PR, they are owning to clearly show that Saudi Arabia is opening up, that it is shifting, that they are far more liberal, that they are more open. I feel that the most effective thing to do is to cost-free all these persons and to display that, yes, we are changing. And we are freeing them for the reason that they didn’t do anything wrong.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s Lina al-Hathloul, sister of jailed Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul. Thank you quite considerably for speaking with us.
AL-HATHLOUL: Thank you quite a great deal for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We achieved out to the Saudi Arabian embassy for a response to this interview. They have not still replied.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIKTOR KRAUSS’ “EYES IN THE Heat”)
Copyright © 2020 NPR. All legal rights reserved. Go to our web page phrases of use and permissions web pages at www.npr.org for more information.
NPR transcripts are developed on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and manufactured working with a proprietary transcription method designed with NPR. This textual content may perhaps not be in its final form and may possibly be up-to-date or revised in the potential. Accuracy and availability may perhaps fluctuate. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio document.