September 27, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5459

Saudi Women's Rights Activists Wajeha Al-Huweidar, About To Start A Ten-Month Prison Sentence: We Will Not Relinquish Our Humane Values, Dream Of A Dignified Life

September 27, 2013
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 5459

On June 15, 2013, following a year-long trial, Saudi women's rights activists Wajeha Al-Huweidar and Fawzia Al-'Uyouni were convicted of inciting a woman (Nathalie Morin, a French Canadian living in Saudi Arabia) against her husband and of trying to smuggle her and her three children out of Saudi Arabia. Al-Huweidar and Al-'Uyouni were sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment followed by a two-year ban on leaving the country. [1]

Throughout their investigation and trial, Al-Huweidar and Al-'Uyouni denied trying to kidnap Morin or to smuggle her out of the country, and claimed that they had only tried to bring food and water to Morin and her children who were imprisoned inside their house.

In a communiqué they issued following their sentencing, Al-Huweidar and Al-'Uyouni stated that they had been convicted despite the absence of any evidence against them and despite the fact that the judge had refused to question Morin throughout the six trial hearings. They promised to appeal the sentence, and added that the entire affair was a conspiracy meant to hobble them and curb their humanitarian activity.[2]

In a June 18, 2013 entry on her blog, Morin too denied that Al-Huweidar had interfered in her matter. She wrote: "The charges against Wajeha Al Huweidar must be cleared, she has not asked to be involved in my story and she should not suffer the consequences. She never knew me and knew nothing about me. She only wanted to help me as a woman , a wife , a mother and human being herself from what she heard by others. She never tried to make any kind of interference in my relationship with my husband and she never had a discussion directly with me." [3]

On September 24, 2013, a Saudi court denied Al-Huweidar and Al-'Uyouni's appeal, and, according to them, their sentence is due to begin in a few days. They have declared that they intend to appeal to the Saudi King.[4]

In an article she published September 25 on the liberal website Menber–, Al-Huweidar wrote that the sentence imposed upon her and her friend was meant to intimidate all Saudi women who work to promote women's rights, and that this sentence was part of a vast global mechanism that upholds oppression and evil while suppressing humane values like justice, peace, freedom, love, equality and the right to a dignified life.

The following are excerpts from her article.[5]

Saudi women's rights activists Wajeha Al-Huweidar

This Sentence Conveys A Message: That Any Saudi Woman Who Demands Justice For Women Will Meet The Same, Or A Harsher, Fate

"My friend Fawzia Al-'Uyouni and I have been informed that the appellate court has upheld the unjust sentence that was imposed on us for 'inciting a wife against her husband' – [namely, a sentence of] ten months' imprisonment and a two-year ban on leaving [the kingdom]. The sentence is to be implemented within a few days. By cleverly and cruelly arranging such a conclusion [to this affair], they have conveyed a sharp message to all Saudi women, namely that any woman who demands social justice for her fellow women will meet the same fate, or perhaps even harsher measures, if necessary. But there is another question that occurs to the wise [among us]: Do those who have done this to us wish to convey this message alone, or are they part of a global mechanism of evil that wishes to bequeath an even worse legacy to mankind?

"Let's take a step back from what has happened to us, from our country and from the Gulf, and look at the peoples of the world. For long decades, in both the East and the West, we have seen evil constantly laying in wait for good and crushing it. [We have seen] injustice violating justice and slaying it, falsehood devouring truth and tearing it limb from limb, war killing peace throwing it to the ground to gasp its last breaths, and oppression throttling creativity and freedom and even taking pride in doing so.

"These displays of inhuman [behavior] have grown and intensified in the last decade, especially since the tragedy of 9/11. The war on terror beat its drums ever louder, and their echoes reached Iraq and Afghanistan. Then came the economic collapse that hit all the world's countries with a terrible and chronic plague of poverty. But in the last three years, since the outbreak of the deadly Arab Spring, people's situation has grown even worse. Eroding people to dust, oppressing and even killing them have become commonplace [phenomena] that nobody even notices.

"What are the strong trying to tell the weak and the future generations? What does it mean that, every day, the local and global media shows us so many innocent people being murdered in the markets, on the roads, in coffee shops, in places of worship and elsewhere, while the killers, the perpetrators of these crimes, wander the globe without being held to account? What does it mean that, in a certain part of the world, a woman is imprisoned and flogged for not wearing a hijab, while the corrupt [officials] of her country rob the state's resources and squander them? What does it mean that emaciated and starved children have their childhood stolen away from them and are used like tools, toiling away for long hours every day in order to earn their bread, while the rich stuff themselves [to the point of] indigestion and their pockets bulge with stolen money?

"What does it mean that governments hide the human trafficking and drug trade that exists in their [countries], yet brag about upholding the rights of their citizens? Why is it that those calling for peace are not heard, whereas military commanders receive constant media attention? Why do capitalists constantly destroy the environment and trigger military conflicts in order to take over economic resources and make a profit from them? What do the politicians of the world want us to infer when they turn to stop the bloodshed in a certain part of the world while their hands are stained with the blood of innocent women, children and elderly people? What does it mean that the 'good' and peaceful people of the world will one day be transformed into [either] killers or killed for political reasons or economic gain?

"Why have people everywhere begun to feel that evil is too vast to be conquered, that oppression must be quietly accepted and tolerated as a way of life, that bribery is [just] a tax that must be paid to the corrupt and powerful, and that it is reasonable for judges to take the side of the influential and the elite?..."

"We Will Never Let You Deny Us Our Humane Values And Our Dream Of A Dignified Life!"

"How did the correct notions and values of humanity – such as justice, peace, freedom, good, love, equality, security and the right to a dignified existence – become anomalous concepts that are seldom to be found all at once in [even] one single country? Even in democratic countries, people have begun feeling great apprehension about the future, are afraid to feel joy in life, and fear lack and poverty? What is it that the leaders of the world want to convey to their peoples? That dignified life is their prerogative alone, and the prerogative of their cronies, whereas all others are destined to hell and misery? Until when will the peoples of the world, all of them, continue demonstrating in the streets and facing arrests and humiliation for demanding their legitimate rights? All the security forces in all countries of the world have begun to look the same and to and behave the same way towards demonstrators. What are the tyrants of the world trying to tell us? That the banks have depleted their reserves of humanity, and there is no dignified life to be had, so there is no point in seeking it?

"No, we will never let you deny us our humane values and our dream of a dignified life! On my own behalf and on behalf of my friend Fawzia Al-'Uyouni, and on behalf of all the decent people and the reformists in the world, we cry out against evil and declare that we refuse to believe that the reserves of humanity are depleted – because these are reserves that can never be depleted, because truth is weightier and more solid than falsehood, because good conquers wider swathes in people's hearts than evil, because the roots of love run deep and its dominion is larger than that of hate, because peace has more fans than war, and they are more enduring than the supporters and leaders of war, and the supporters of justice are more steadfast, stubborn and have a longer reach than the supporters of oppression. Freedom, equality and democracy are the ideal paths towards a dignified life.

"You who have chosen to stand in formation at the behest of oppression, do what you will, but rest assured that you shall not be able to distance us even a little from our humane values. For we, the people of light, grow more numerous as love [continues to] spread, and our sons and grandsons are those who will remain here, while you, who spread corruption in the land, will undoubtedly pass away and vanish."



[1] Al-Hayat (London), June 16, 2013. Morin is married to a Saudi named Sa'eed Al-Shahrani and has been living in the kingdom for over eight years. She has a Twitter account and a YouTube channel on which she posts videos and testimonies about her life in Saudi Arabia. In some of these posts, she wrote that she and her family were in extreme financial distress, that her husband was abusing her, and that she wished to return to Canada but the Saudi authorities had been preventing her from leaving the country with her family since 2006. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.5338, "Saudi Women's Rights Activists Wajeha Al-Huweidar, Fawzia Al-'Uyouni Sentenced To Prison For Trying To Help Canadian Woman Living In Saudi Arabia June 17, 2013. In July 2013, following the publication of Al-Huweidar and Al-'Uyouni's sentence, Kuwaiti liberal Ahmad Al-Saraf wrote in his column that the two deserved not punishment but a Nobel Prize. See: MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5380, Kuwaiti Columnist: Saudi Women's Rights Activists Wajeha Al-Huweidar And Her Comrades Deserve Nobel Prize July 29, 2013.

[2], June 16, 2013.

[3], June 18, 2013.

[4] Menber–, September 24, 2013.

[5] Menber–, September 25, 2013.

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