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Jailed Saudi women's rights activist nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

JAILED Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her equality campaigning in the reactionary Gulf kingdom.

She was proposed for the award by Canadian parliamentarian Helene Laverdiere of the centre-left New Democratic Party, it was announced on Tuesday.

Ms Hathloul, who studied in Canada at the University of British Columbia, was one of a group of activists detained last May in a crackdown on human rights activists by the Saudi regime.

Her arrest came shortly before Riyadh lifted a ban on women driving, a cause championed by Ms Haloul and at least 12 others who were detained.

She was arrested by Saudi authorities in 2014 after she attempted to drive into the country from the United Arab Emirates, receiving a 70-day prison sentence.

It is alleged that the women have been subjected to “inhuman behaviour” while in jail, including torture, electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, sexual assault and the threat of rape by prison guards.

Ms Hathloul told her family, who are still able to visit her, that Saud al-Qahtani, a former senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was present during torture sessions and threatened to rape and murder her before throwing her body into the sewage system. 

Her brother Walid told CNN how Ms Hathloul had been transferred from Dhahban prison to a place “known as the 'hotel’,” where the torture allegedly took place.

“She described it as a ‘palace of terror’ that is 10 minutes away from the prison,” he wrote.

“She said she was taken blindfolded and thrown into the trunk of a car on the way to this secret place. The torture sessions, she said, normally occur in the basement of this palace.

“My own baby sister said she is being whipped, beaten, electrocuted and harassed on a frequent basis. She said that sometimes there are masked men who wake her up in the middle of the night to shout unimaginable threats.”

Ms Laverdiere said on Twitter that she was “honoured” to nominate Ms Hathloul for the Nobel Peace Prize for dedicating her life to the fight for equal rights for women in Saudi Arabia “even as she is imprisoned and tortured for her peaceful activism.

“The torture she and the other women detainees have endured is unconscionable, illegal and the world must continue to demand their immediate release,” she insisted.


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