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Saudi Women Banned From Attending Public Trials

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

Saudi judges continue to ban women from attending public trials, even when they are very close relatives. Yesterday [July 18], the second session in the ongoing trial of Umar Al-Saeed, a member of the country's leading human rights organisation, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was held in Saudi Arabian city of Buraydah. The session was supposed to be held last Thursday, but it was postponed without a prior notice after several activists had traveled to attend it.

Al-Saeed, 23, was arrested on April 28th after refusing an interrogation without a lawyer. Currently, seven members of ACPRA are imprisoned.

In yesterday's session, Al-Saeed responded to the charges and accused the interrogator of maltreatment:

تم التحقيق معي وأنا مقيد, ورفض المحقق فك القيد, وكان القيد موثوق بقوة ويألمني, كما أن المحقق يتلفض علي بعبارات قذرة ويصفني بألفاض نابية منها (أنت ثور، أنت مجرم) وغيرها أترفع عن ذكرها.

I was interrogated with while being handcuffed. The interrogator refused to remove the handcuffs and they were very tight and painful. The interrogator also was provocative, calling me vulgar names including “you're a bull, you're a criminal” and others that I am not willing to repeat.

Some of the attendees in today's session via alajmi01

Some of today's session attendees via alajmi01

Furthermore, Al-Saeed, a senior university student who was about to graduate when he was arrested, said that the interrogator blackmailed him:

المحقق أحمد الذكري كان يبتزني بحرماني من حضور الاختبارات, إن لم أقر بما يمليه علي.

Interrogator Ahmed al-Thukri blackmailed me by threatening to deny me final exams if I did not confess to what he wanted.

Al-Saeed's wife and mother tried to attend the session, but the judge refused. In a previous trial, another judge said that “men are good enough,” leading another ACPRA member, Abdulkareem al-Khadar, to refuse to attend the trial and he was arrested.

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

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