By Alex Neve
Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
Last week, two prominent and courageous women’s rights activists, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada, were arrested in Saudi Arabia.
No one imagined that on top of the personal injustice for Samar and Nassima that their arrest was going to spark a major diplomatic stand-off between Canada and Saudi Arabia about human rights. And in doing so, put Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record in the international spotlight in ways that it rarely is.
Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada are, sadly, two more in a growing list of women human rights defenders arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia over the past three months. That includes Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, imprisoned since mid-May. Loujain has strong Canadian connections, as she is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.