Campaign: Raif Badawi

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English PEN joins PEN International in calling for the sentence of flogging handed down to editor Raif Badawi to be overturned immediately.

According to PEN’s information, editor Raif Badawi, who was sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine, a 10-year travel ban and 10-year media participation ban for ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’, will begin being flogged in November 2014. English PEN believes that the sentence of 1,000 lashes violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and joins PEN International in calling for this sentence to be overturned immediately.

PEN also reiterates its calls for Badawi’s conviction to be quashed and for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as that of his lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on 6 July 2014.

Background

17 June 2012: Raef Badawi was arrested in Jeddah after organising a conference to mark a “day of liberalism”. The conference, which was to have taken place in Jeddah on 7 May, was banned by the authorities.

29 July 2013: sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and 600 lashes after he was convicted under the information technology law of “founding a liberal website,” “adopting liberal thought” and for “insulting Islam”. The online forum, Liberal Saudi Network – created to foster political and social debate in Saudi Arabia – was ordered closed by the judge.


December 2013: the Court of Appeal had reversed the ruling of the District Court in Jeddah, ordering that Badawi’s case be sent for review by another court. Badawi, who suffers from diabetes, is reported to be in poor health.


7 May 2014: Jeddah’s Criminal Court sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (approx. US$266,631) on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website.’ According to PEN’s information, when Badawi appeared in court to collect a written account of the verdict on 28 May 2014 he discovered the insertion of two additional penalties: a 10-year travel ban and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media, both to be applied following his release.

According to the Centre For Inquiry (CFI), in a post dated 17 September 2014, the Saudi appeals court in Mecca confirmed the sentence against Badawi, and states that the lashes will be administered 50 at the time, in public, every week after Friday Prayers.

Waleed

PEN International is also protesting the arrest of Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu Al-Khair, on 15 April 2014. Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a lawyer, human rights activist and founding member of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA) who has also written many articles.

4 February 2014: the Court of Appeal confirmed a three-month sentence against Abu Al-Khair imposed after he had been convicted of contempt of the judiciary. According to PEN’s information, Abu Al-Khair was arrested at the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh while he attended the fifth session of his trial for other charges made against him in 2013, which include: “breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler and disrespecting the authorities”, “offending the judiciary”, “inciting international organisations against the Kingdom” and “founding an unlicensed organization” (Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia), and supervising it and contributing to the establishment of another (the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association – ACPRA); and “preparing, storing and sending material harmful to public order”.

27 May 2014: moved to Briman prison in Jeddah, from Al Hair prison, where there were concerns that he may have been subjected to ill-treatment.


6 July 2014: the Specialized Criminal Court, Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal, sentenced him to 15 years in prison, a 15-year ban on travel abroad, and a fine of 200,000 Saudi Riyals (equivalent to approximately US$53,000) on a number of broad and vaguely worded charges that are believed to stem solely from his peaceful activism, including comments to news outlets and on Twitter criticizing Saudi human rights violations. On 11 August 2014 he was moved again to al-Malaz prison in Riyadh, over 960 kilometers from his family in Jeddah.

According to MHRSA , Abu al-Khair refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court or defend himself against the charges. He also refused to sign a copy of the trial judgment or to appeal the conviction or his sentence., MHRSA stated on 12 August 2014 that it believes his prison transfers are a punitive measure for Abu al-Khair’s refusal to recognize the court. Abu Al-Khair is the recipient of the 2012 Olof Palme Prize.

Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. Criminalisation of the peaceful criticism of public officials and institutions violates international human rights law. Corporal punishment such as flogging also violates the absolute prohibition under international law of all forms of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

TAKE ACTION:

Share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media

Sign our petition at Change.org

Please send appeals:

  • Condemning the Jeddah Criminal Court’s sentencing of editor Raif Badawi’s to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, a 10-year travel ban and 10-year media participation ban on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website’ on 7 May 2014;
  • Calling for his sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to release Raif Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair immediately and unconditionally as they are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression;
  • In the meantime, calling for both men to be granted all necessary medical treatment and access to their families and lawyers of their choice;
  • Calling on Saudi Arabia to ratify, without reservation, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country if possible, and send copies of any appeals you send and responses you receive to cat@englishpen.org

Appeals to be sent to:

King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
, Office of His Majesty the King: 
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
 Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 1 403 3125,
 Salutation: Your Majesty

His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 
Ministry of the Interior:
 P.O.Box 2933, Airport Road 
Riyadh 11134
 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
 Fax: +966 1 403 3125
, Salutation: Your Excellency

His Excellency Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa, 
Ministry of Justice
: University Street
 Riyadh 11137 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
. Fax: + 966 1 401 1741 + 966 11 402 0311, 
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country

HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, 
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia: 
30-32 Charles St 
London
 W1J 5DZ. 
Fax: 02079173113
 Email: ukemb@mofa.gov.sa
, Salutation: Your Excellency

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One thought on “Campaign: Raif Badawi

  1. Pingback: Spring Term Preview 2016: The UK, Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey | University of York's English PEN Society

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