Freedom and justice for Saudi women. Refuse to attend the 2020 W20 in Saudi Arabia
Freedom and justice for Saudi women. Refuse to attend the 2020 W20 in Saudi Arabia!
Saudi Arabia is slated to host — either in person or virtually — this November’s G20 summit of the world's wealthiest nations. Included within the gathering will be the Women 20 (W20) subgroup to advise on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, while brave Saudi women activists like Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, and even the Crown Prince MbS’s own cousin, Princess Basmah bint Saud, remain imprisoned for their human rights work.
Thanks to the hard work of our partner at Freedom Forward, who organized a letter from nearly 30 organizations, including CODEPINK, prominent W20 delegate Lyric Thompson of the International Center for Research on Women has dropped out.
Now let’s contact another prominent W20 woman, Irene Natividad of the GlobeWomen Research and Education Institute, asking her to do the same. U.S. residents: fill out the form to send a direct email to the W20 women.
Dear Irene Natividad,
I write to you with a heartfelt request that you refuse to attend, either physically or virtually, this year’s Women 20 event. For the sake of Saudi women — a number of whom have been subjected to torture and are currently imprisoned — I implore you to decline to attend any event hosted by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Friday, May 15, 2020, marked two full years that Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has spent in prison. Loujain was one of the brave activists who fought for Saudi women to be granted the right to drive. After the ban on female drivers was lifted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, she was arrested. Loujain has suffered two years of torture and isolation, and her family worries about her every day.
Loujain was arrested in 2018 by a group of armed men from the state security agency during a raid on her house. For the first three months of her detention, Loujain was held incommunicado with no access to her family or a lawyer. When she was finally able to have access to her family, she relayed to them that she had been beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed, and threatened with rape and murder.
In August 2019, after more than a year of imprisonment, Saudi Arabia offered Loujain her freedom. But it came with a catch: she would have to make a video denying that she had been tortured. Loujain rejected the offer. As Saudi Arabia prepares to host the W20, Loujain continues to languish in prison, continuing to endure pain and isolation and at risk of contracting COVID-19. And there are hundreds of women’s rights activists currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia alongside Loujain, all for the “crime” of fighting for their rights.
Irene, on June 25, 2018, you tweeted: “The fact that the women activists who fought for Saudi women's right to drive were jailed underscores the fact that women's lives there remain circumscribed by men. These new liberties need to be anchored in real basic rights as equals to the men in their countries.” You have dedicated your life to advocating for the rights of women around the world and uplifting women’s voices. Therefore, I ask you to stand in solidarity with the women of Saudi Arabia and refuse to participate in this year’s G20 summit.
For women like Loujain, it is imperative that real progress for women’s rights be made. As one of the W20, you are in a position of tremendous influence. Please act for Loujain and all Saudi women.