“I did not have any other choice.” This is what Loujain Hathloul’s sister said about her latest op-ed published by the New York Times detailing horrifying details on her sister’s arbitrary detention and torture.
On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed written by the sister of the jailed Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, Alia Hathloul, who currently lives in Brussels.
Translation: “I did not have any other choice.”
In her article, Alia wonders if the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, will bring up the case of many other Saudi detained women activists as well as her sister’s, while meeting Saudi officials during his upcoming visit to the Kingdom where he is scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS.
Narrating details since the first moment when her sister got arrested in May 15, 2018, Alia mentions how she and her family were waiting for Loujain to be released on June 24, the day when the ban on women driving was lifted.
She also mentions how Loujain was first held in a “hotel” during the few phone calls she was allowed to make. However, few months later, Hathloul’s family knew that Loujain was transferred to solitary confinement before finally being taken to Dhaban prison in Jeddah, where her parents were allowed to visit her during short visits and once a month.
Alia describes how her parents found Loujain’s health deteriorating as she was “shaking uncontrollably, unable to hold her grip, to walk or sit normally” but she was blaming it on the air-conditioning in an attempt to comfort her parents.
Later in December, Hathloul’s parents visited her and asked her about the shocking reports released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on torturing detainees, when Loujain “collapsed in tears”. She told them how she was “beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder,” when her parents saw Loujain’s thighs blackened by bruises.
In her article, Alia also mentioned how Saud al-Qahtani, a top royal adviser, was present when Loujain was tortured which confirms several media reports that referenced his involvement in killing the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Loujain also told her parents how Qahtani and his men were forcing her to eat during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Translation: “Horrifying details narrated by Aliaa Hathloul about her sister’s detention, torture, and being threatened to rape by Saud Qahtani men. Is this Saudi Arabia that is trying to protect women? Is this the Islam that honored women? Rahad Qannun, wish you all the best because you have taught us a lesson we will never forget.”
Alia ends her article expressing fear that her words might hurt her sister, Loujain in detention, however, she is no more able to stay silent as she lost her hope that her sister might be released or her family be able to travel again, after a travel ban was imposed on them by the Saudi government.
The story received supportive reactions and was widely circulating social media on Sunday.
This story comes shortly after Twitter suspended the account of Loujain Hathloul's father after he tweeted about the sexual harassment and torture his daughter faced in prison.
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