Renowned Scholar Hatoon Al-Fassi Arrested Week after Driving Ban Lifted in Saudi Arabia

July 21, 2018

In July 2018 Endangered Scholars Worldwide learned that Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi, a prominent women's rights advocate and writer at the Riyadh paper, was arrested in June, according to reports circulated on social media. 


Hatoon al-Fassi joins more than a dozen women targeted in a recent government crackdown on women’s rights activism, despite that the country ended its ban on women driving on June 24.


Al-Fassi is a renowned scholar and an associate professor of women's history at King Saud University. Her work focuses on women's history and politics, and she has long been advocating for the right of women to participate in municipal elections. She was one of the first women to drive the day the ban was lifted. 


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has documented the arrest of around 20 human rights defenders, many of whom are supporters of women's rights campaigns. Eight have been released, including women who fought for the right to drive and to live free from the control of a male guardian. However, those released may still face rearrest as new reports claim they have been released only temporarily "until the completion of their procedural review." 


Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the detention and persecution of Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to ask for al-Fassi's immediate and unconditional release; to urge the Saudi authorities to release all persons detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly immediately and unconditionally; and to drop all charges against them. We entreat the Saudi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of Hatoon Al-Fassi, and to allow her immediate access to her family and lawyers of her choice. 


Please send appeals to:

Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir 
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Nasseriya Street 
Riyadh 11124 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
Fax: +966 1 403 0645 



Dr. Walid bin Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Samaani
Minister of Justice
PO Box 58889, Bldg. 373 
King Fahad Road 
Riyadh 11515 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
Fax: +966 1 4612061


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