Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, today welcomed news of the release of the Saudi women’ human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul, after almost three years imprisonment in the Gulf kingdom.
The Wicklow TD said:
“It is fantastic to hear news of the release of Loujain. I have met with NGOs, written to the Minister, and spoke publicly about this issue repeatedly since taking up my position as party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.
“Loujain has been held in a Saudi prison for nearly three years on trumped up charges – during which she was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted, and subjected to torture which included flogging and electric shocks.
“Loujain’s crimes, and that of the other women human rights activists detained along with her, was to dare to be treated as equals.
“Women in Saudi Arabia are forced to endure an oppressive system of male guardianship, which restricts them from enjoying basic civil and human rights, which we take for granted in Ireland.
“In the eyes of the Saudi state, Loujain’s crime was to apply for a job with the United Nations, and to communicate with journalists.
“While she is prevented from leaving Saudi Arabia and is forced to remain on probation, the release of Loujain and other women is a huge concession by the Saudi’s.
“I welcome the influence of the newly elected US President Joe Biden. There is no doubt that the new administration’s decision to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and threaten further sanctions was a major factor in the decision to release al-Hathloul.
“I believe that the Irish government must take cognisance of the role that international pressure brought to bear in this case, and use its position on the United Nations Security Council to advocate on behalf of those human rights defenders who find themselves victims of state oppression around the globe.”