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Saudi Women Protesters Arrested for “Impairing Development”

Last Saturday, February 9, 2013 a small protest was organized in front of the building of Human Rights Commission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by a group of women and children, including the wife, daughter and granddaughter of Suliman al-Rushoodi, the detained chairman of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

al-Rushoodi's wife, @omamar1, uploaded live videos from the site which were combined in the following video:

Fifteen police cars surrounded the few women and children and a policeman tried to confiscate the banners that they had. When he failed and the women started to shout “the people want to free the prisoners,” a few cars stopped. A policeman told the drivers: “Do not stop!” Another told the women: “Shame on you!” All women and children were arrested and a blood sample was taken from them. According to al-Rushoodi's wife [ar]:

سأل هل قبض عليك من قبل قلت لست مجرمة حتى اعتقل قال من قال لك انك مجرمة قلت اجل لما التبصيم بالعشرة وسحب الدم الDNA هذا لا يعمل الا للمجرمين

@omamar1: [The interrogator] asked: Have you been arrested before? I told him: I am not a criminal to be arrested. He said: Who told you that you were a criminal? I told him: So why did you take my fingerprints and blood sample for DNA? This is only to be done for criminals.

Moreover, she reported verbal abuse:

وقالت ياحيونة ويا (ق..)لا استطيع قولهاقليلة الادب…

@omamar1: [The female prison guard] said: You animals, you bit**. I cannot say the vulgar word…

Furthermore, they were not provided food for over 9 hours. Amnesty International reported:

The women and children were apparently not provided with food until around midnight after the women had pleaded with officials on behalf of their children.

The women who were arrested for the first time as well as the children were allowed to leave that evening, but three women remained under detainment for their participation in previous protests and sit-ins: Hanan al-‘Amereeni, Hameeda al-Ghamidi, and al-Rushoodi's daughter, Bahia al-Rushoodi.

Earlier today, they were brought in front of a secret court, where only one lawyer was allowed in and two family members for each of the three detainees. The charges included impairing development, inciting public opinion and blocking three main roads. Abdulaziz al-Hussan, one of the lawyers denied entry, tweeted:

خرجت من المحكمة الجزائية للتو بعد رفض القاضي دخولنا كمحامين مع عاصم المشعلي لقضية معتقلات الرياض وقمة المهزلة كذلك إدخال الجنود لقاعةالمحكمة

@AHussan: I just got out of the Criminal Court after the judge had refused to let us in as lawyers besides Asim al-Masha'li for the Riyadh female prisoners. The most absurd thing was the fact that they let soldiers into the courtroom.

Anonymous activism group, @e3teqal reported:

القاضي مرتبك و عدد العسكر في مجلس القضاء ثمانية

@e3teqal: The judge is frustrated and there are eight soldiers in the courtroom.

Asim al-Masha'li tweeted:

عاجل: أمر قضائي اﻵن بالإفراج عن معتقلات الرياض بحمدالله..

@lawyerasim: Breaking news: The judge ordered the release of Riyadh female prisoners. Thank God.

The case was not, however, dismissed and the upcoming hearing session was set for February 27.

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