This story is near and dear to my heart. If you have read any past posts of mine, you will know why.
Why would Saudi officials choose to silence these activists after a 30 year struggle to obtain legal driver's licenses? Has the movement pushed too far? Demanding human rights of freedom of movement, thought, speech, attire? Why would the Saudi government choose to "allow" permission for women to drive and then weeks before the official day detain/arrest/silence the very advocates that let the world know their plight?
I feel connected to these accidental activists.
I was fired from my driving job by a Saudi prince Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz (Sudairy Seven) and former deputy defense minister in KSA. We "won" our lawsuit against him and 2 hiring companies. He died in default and it seems relatively impossible I will ever recover the funds owed to me amounting in $130,000. He also owes two other women this amount, plus a big chunk of legal fees. THIS IS HIS FAMILY LEGACY. He died in default, never once in eight years responding to the charges of gender discrimination.
I am grateful for being fired while female. This ordeal taught me advocacy doesn't pay the bills, but much like child rearing...you get paid in smiles, hugs, thumbs up and nice comments (sometimes not so nice) about being a silence breaker. It taught me about patience, disappointment and the persistence it takes to tell your story to make a difference and benefit all.
My heart and thoughts go out to the 10+ detainees. I hope you are all set free and released without charges of TREASON against your beloved country. I hope the June driving day is peaceful and those who stand strong to obtain the rights get to participate fully without harassment.
Here is the latest NPR article Saudi Women's Activists Arrested (Men too)
I follow Manal Al Sharif for more personal and up to date info on the issues...Manal
Here is my Twitter handle Gretchen Cooper
The photo is of Manal and I a few years into our legal battle with named Prince.