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#BeepForFreedom: Protesters call for release of women activists at Saudi embassy in London

Riyadh is also seeking the death penalty against five human rights activists [TNA]

Date of publication: 23 August, 2018

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Dozens of protesters have rallied outside the Saudi embassy in the British capital London on Thursday to call for the release of detained women rights activists.

Dozens of protesters have rallied outside the Saudi embassy in the British capital London on Thursday to call for the release of detained women rights activists.

The rally, organised by Amnesty International, marked 100 days since Saudi authorities arrested the activists in May - just before the kingdom ended its ban on women drivers.

Some protesters drove past the embassy in London's West End beeping their car horns and displaying placards calling for the immediate release of the detained.

"We are here today for the women activist in Saudi Arabia who have been held for 100 days without charges," one protester told The New Arab.

"This is not acceptable they were only calling for human rights. There has been a huge increase to the crackdown on human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia,"

"The government wants to show that they are making reforms to women's rights while at the same time they are putting behind bars very people who have been standing for these rights," she added.

Many Twitter users joined the protest using the hashtag #BeepForFreedom.

Amnesty says at least 12 leading human rights activists, including eight women, have been arrested in the kingdom since May.

Many of them long opposed the decades-long ban and resisted the system of male "guardians" - fathers, husbands or other relatives, whose permission is required to travel or get married.

Riyadh is also seeking the death penalty against five human rights activists, including Israa al-Ghomgham, the first female activist to possibly face the death penalty for her human rights work.

Ghomgham, a prominent Shia activist who documented mass demonstrations in the Eastern Province starting in 2011, was arrested at her home along with her husband in December 2015.

The ultra-conservative kingdom has one of the world's highest rates of execution, with nearly 600 carried out since 2014. More than 200 were over drug cases, but also included other crimes such as rape, incest, terrorism, and "sorcery".

Most people are executed by public beheading or firing squad.

Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom.

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