Statement on Saudi Embassy’s Lack of Response to Letter on Detained Women Activists

September 2, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—On July 2, 2020, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. David Trone (D-MD), and Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) sent a letter to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud concerning the ongoing detention of many women activists, including Loujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan, and Nouf Abdulaziz. Nine weeks later, neither the Ambassador nor the Saudi embassy have responded to the Representatives’ request for a meeting to discuss the safety and legal status of these women. The embassy has also failed to respond to an earlier letter, sent on June 23, 2020 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), requesting similar information.

In a statement regarding the Saudi Embassy’s lack of response, the Members said the following:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Saudi government would violate diplomatic norms by ignoring our request to get answers on the well-being of women activists who remain in prison. Loujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan, and Nouf Abdulaziz are three courageous women's rights activists detained in 2018 for protesting women’s oppression in Saudi Arabia. Their efforts to combat stringent male guardianship laws, restrictions on female travel, and a ban on women drivers were galvanized by a desire to advocate for the fundamental rights of women in their community—and at great personal cost. It is our hope that Ambassador Reema can find common ground in this cause, especially given her own advocacy on behalf of women business owners. The invitation for a meeting to discuss women’s rights in Saudi Arabia remains open.”