Earlier today, Saudi Arabian human rights activist Samar Badawi was questioned by authorities with that nation’s Bureau of Investigation and was allowed to leave after the interview.
On her Twitter page, she reported that the Bureau wanted to ask her about her human rights activities:
Today's investigation is related to previous issues about my HR and civil activities including women's campaign against male guardians.
— samar badawi (@samarbadawi15) February 15, 2017
Samar Badawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, the human rights writer who was convicted of apostasy and other charges and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes with a cane, and she is the wife of Waleed Abulkhair, who is Raif Badawi’s lawyer as well as his brother-in-law. Waleed is in prison for his human rights advocacy as well.
On January 12, 2016, she was arrested and released on bail one day later. She was charged with operating her husband Waleed’s Twitter account.
Because the Bureau of Investigations gave no reason for the summons to Samar, she could not prepare for the questioning. This is a common form of judicial harassment in nations that use a judiciary as a tool to intimidate.
Samar has been an activist like her brother for years (both are in their 30s). As a teenager, she fought for the right of women to leave abusive families, even as her father filed charges against her time and again; then she fought for women’s suffrage; then she was a part of the campaign to get women driving in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Department honored her with a Woman of Courage award in 2012:
Ensaf Haidar left Saudi Arabia with her three children in 2012 and human rights advocates helped her find a home in Quebec, Canada. She and the children have been building a life there, learning English and French, while Ensaf has traveled the world making people aware of her husband Raif’s story, his words, his life.
Samar remained in Saudi Arabia with her children, and like Ensaf, she did not lay low but instead continued the peaceful fight for human rights that she and her husband always supported with words and actions. Saudi Arabia revoked her passport on December 3, 2014, which is never an indication of good things to come. She has faced harassment ever since.
Human rights organizations like the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR); ESOHR’s director, Ali Adubisi; and Front Line Defenders have already published posts similar to the one above to make human rights defenders around the world aware of Saudi Arabia’s ominous request for Samar Badawi.
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(Disclosure: Both Samar Badawi and Ensaf Haidar have sent notes of encouragement to this web site the last two-plus years as I have continued to write articles about Raif Badawi’s case and human rights in Saudi Arabia. I admire both of them and their husbands.)
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