[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Join English Pen, Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, the Society of Authors, ALQST and other supporters on 17 June for a special vigil to mark seven years since the arrest of blogger Raif Badawi who remains in prison, with the threat of 950 lashes still looming over him.
Raif bin Muhammad Badawi is a Saudi writer, dissident and activist, as well as the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 on a charge of “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and brought to court on several charges, including apostasy. In 2013 he was convicted on several charges and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014 his sentence was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine. The flogging was to be carried out over 20 weeks. The first 50 lashes were administered on 9 January 2015. The second flogging has been postponed more than twelve times. The reason for the most recent postponement is unknown, but the previous scheduled floggings were delayed due to Badawi’s poor health. Badawi is known to have hypertension, and his health has worsened since the flogging began.
His wife, Ensaf Haidar, who took refuge in Canada after her life was threatened in Saudi Arabia, has said Badawi will not be able to survive further flogging. Ensaf Haidar has given a series of televised interviews about Badawi’s plight, including at the 2016 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
(NB supporters are asked to meet at the Curzon Street side of the Embassy).[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
On 17 May 2017, Index on Censorship joined English Pen, Amnesty International and others in a protest of solidarity outside of the Saudi embassy in London to call for the release of blogger Raif Badawi.
Badawi was detained on 17 June 2012 for creating the website Free Saudi Liberals and “insulting Islam through electronic channels”. Following his arrest, he was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes, the first 50 of which he received in public in January of 2015.
One month away from the five-year anniversary of his arrest, Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, led dozens of protesters at the embassy. Haidar has said her husband’s mental health is worsening. This makes her pleas with world leaders to aid in the release of Badawi even more urgent. She has recently directly petitioned, among others, the governments of the UK, Germany and her new home of Canada.
Many activists have been protesting at the gates of the embassy for a long time to show their support. Cat Lucas of English Pen said: “We’ve been coming here for almost two and a half years on account of Raif.”
Similarly, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “We’re here once again to support the campaign to release Raif Badawi and we won’t go away until he is free. Saudi Arabia has a duty to honour their commitments to the human rights law, as their crackdown is doing huge harm worldwide.”
Jo Glanville, director of English Pen, urged the British government to put pressure on Saudi Arabia for the release of Badawi: ,“We are approaching five years since Raif was arrested for doing no more than exercising freedom of expression. We call on the Saudi government to release him immediately and also on the British government to use its very close relationship with the kingdom to ensure he receives the justice he deserves.”
Badawi’s situation is not unique, as Imad Iddine Habib of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain CEMB noted: “We’re here to call for the immediate release of Raif Badawi who is unjustly in jail for expressing nothing more than his ideas and beliefs. He represents thousands of others who are in prison for similar reasons.”
Saudi Arabian blogger and activist Raif Badawi is the winner of this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament.
Badawi, who also won 2015 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage, was convicted in May 2014 for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and a ten-year prison sentence. In addition, the court in Jeddah sentenced him to 1,000 lashes.
Please join us in front of the Saudi embassy in London on Friday 30 October, from 9am. Activists are asked to meet at the Curzon Street entrance to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mayfair, London.
When: Friday, 30 Oct, 2015, from 9am Where: Saudi embassy in London, Curzon Street entrance (note: the postal address of the Embassy is 30-32 Charles Street).
Along with Melody Patry, delegates delivering the open letter included political campaigner Peter Tatchell
On 17 June 2015, delegates including Melody Patry from Index on Censorship delivered an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron asking for his help in pressuring the Saudi government to release blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence and facing 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam through electronic channels. His sentence was imposed because he expressed an opinion. The date marked the third anniversary of his arrest.