Sarah Aziza for the Intercept writes:
Beginning on May 15, 2018, just weeks before the end of the ban on female drivers, the government began a series of arrests targeting prominent activists. . . Simultaneously, photographs of the women began to circulate on local media and online, accompanied by state accusations of treason and collusion with foreign governments.
[T]he Saudi state’s efforts to suppress dissent appear to extend far beyond the nation’s borders. . . (Since 2015, three Saudi princes who had criticized the royal family also disappeared while abroad, and are believed to have been forcibly returned to the kingdom).
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch reported a rapid increase in arbitrary detentions, with over 2,000 new cases between 2014 to 2018.
[S]aid one activist, now living abroad. “It’s very disheartening.” She continued, “The cost has become too high for most of us — there’s a sense that anything could happen if the government decides to target you. We see human rights groups pointing the finger at Saudi after each arrest, but nothing happens. Saudi Arabia is even on the Human Rights Council!” — a reference to the kingdom’s seat on the U.N. body. “With no outside pressure, why would the government change?”
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