ALQST has received credible news that Lina Alsharif, a 33-year-old Saudi physician, was arrested several weeks ago and may still be forcibly disappeared. The reason for these measures is unknown but appears to be linked to her peaceful social media activism.
According to a reliable source, Alsharif was arrested by the Saudi authorities in May 2021. Following this, her family were denied any contact with her for several weeks, during which she was held in conditions of enforced disappearance. ALQST does not yet have any further information about her status or whereabouts, raising concerns that she remains forcibly disappeared.
Alsharif’s arrest appears to be linked to her activity on social media, where she peacefully exercised her right to free speech.
“Alsharif’s apparent enforced disappearance is of grave concern, particularly given the Saudi authorities’ systematic and widespread use of the practice to silence critical voices,” commented ALQST Deputy Director Josh Cooper.
In Saudi Arabia the practice of enforced disappearance is part of a larger pattern of arbitrary arrests of people exercising their right to free speech and other fundamental rights, followed by shorter or longer periods of disappearance before the victims resurface to face trial. Sometimes they last a very long time, raising concerns for the safety and even lives of the victims.
ALQST calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately reveal the fate of Lina Alsharif and others forcibly disappeared, and to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily arrested for expressing their opinions. ALQST calls for pressure to be brought to bear on the authorities to end these practices, and for them to be held fully accountable.