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Detained Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul's health 'deteriorating' amid hunger strike over ban on family contact Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Detained Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul's health 'deteriorating' amid hunger strike over ban on family contact

The women's rights activist was jailed in 2018 [Twitter]

Date of publication: 1 September, 2020

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Loujain Alhathloul has reportedly launched a hunger strike in Saudi prison over months of an unfair family contact ban, her sister confirmed.
The family of jailed Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul visited the high-profile detainee in prison on Monday after more than three months without contact.

The parents of the women's rights activist said she had launched a six day hunger strike over unfair treatment by prison authorities who banned her from contacting her family while allowing other detainees to do so.

"My parents visited Loujain today. She was on a hunger strike for 6 days after acknowledging some detainees are allowed to call and not her. Her health was deteriorating extremely during her hunger strike," the sister of Loujain, Lina Alhathloul confirmed in a tweet on Monday.

It came after the family complained they hadn't heard from Loujain since 9 June - more than 80 days prior to the visit.

The 31-year-old has been behind bars for two years, after protesting the male guardianship system and a ban on women drivers. 

Similarly, reports in August said all communication from the outside world had been cut to imprisoned Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud since April, according to people close to the matter. 

Princess Basmah, who is a daughter of the late King Saud, was detained with her daughter earlier this year in what observers say is part of a campaign of repression by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de-facto ruler.

Prominent Saudi cleric Salman Al-Awdah was last in contact with his family on 12 May, his son said late August.

Whereas previously, the detained dissidents were able to make regular - sometimes even weekly - calls to their family, many have not been heard from in months. 

"I'm worried to the degree that I really am numb at this point," Awdah's son, Abdullah Alaoudh, told Bloomberg.

Read also: Loujain Alhathloul, women's rights activist, turns 31 in Saudi prison. Force MbS to free her

He said many others are in a similar situation. "They're worried sick about their families, and whether there have been any coronavirus cases, and why the government is just keeping them in the dark.”

The May call between cleric Al-Awdah and his family was recorded and shared on social media.

It was the first recording of the reformist sheikh released since September 2017, when he and 20 others - including writers and journalists - were arrested as part of a crackdown on suspected dissent in the ultra-conservative kingdom. 

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