Act now to #FreeRaif: Calling for freedom gets you 10 Years, 1000 lashes, in Saudi Arabia

  • post Type / Action Alert
  • Date / 15 September 2014

Time is running out for a young activist who called for greater freedom, and now faces devastating corporal punishment and a decade behind bars.

Our governments are not doing enough. “We must act in solidarity with Raif Badawi ourselves.” https://humanists.international/act-now-to-freeraif-calling-for-freedom-gets-you-10-years-1000-lashes-in-saudi-arabia/ #FreeRaif via @IHEU

Please share the above and see further actions you can take below.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has been following the case of Raif Badawi since he was first arrested, and detained in prison since June 2012. When sentenced in 2013 we called his sentence “gratuitous” and “violent”, and it has since been increased to 1,000 lashes and 10 years prison, to be followed by a 10-year travel ban. This increased sentence was upheld earlier this month.

Raif Badawi, jailed for 10 years in Saudi Arabia for running a website advocating greater freedoms

Raif Badawi, jailed for 10 years in Saudi Arabia for running a website advocating greater freedoms

His crime? Raif had been running a “liberal” website which called for greater freedoms of thought and belief in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For this he was first accused of “apostasy” (leaving Islam) and then tried for “insulting Islam”.

It is now feared that the first of 1,000 lashes will be carried out, in public, within a matter of weeks (see: “جدة: جهات مختصة تشرع في «جلد» «مؤسس» موقع إلكتروني «مسّ» النظام العام“).

Raif’s lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, is himself in prison, serving a 15-year sentence in connection with his defence of human rights activists, for such crimes as “harming the reputation of the state by communicating with international organizations” and “preparing, storing and sending information that harms public order”.

Back in 2013, IHEU president Sonja Eggerickx commented: “we know from prior experience that many western powers are deeply invested in Saudi Arabia as an ally, and will pull their punches… The international community has avoided offering severe criticism let alone more substantive action, even in clear-cut cases such as this, where political prisoners are sentenced to punishments that can only be regarded as barbaric. We call on and challenge the international community to call this sentence what it is, to express their dismay, and to confront Saudi Arabia over this clear violation of basic rights and human dignity.”

Indeed, Raif’s sentence represents one of a huge number of cases, legal and extrajudicial, against human rights defenders and civil society activists in recent years, with limited criticism from Saudi Arabia’s international “allies”. IHEU has nevertheless continued to call for Raif’s release and to cite the case at the United Nations Human Rights Council (see: “Humanists speak out — in Arabic — at the UN“; “IHEU laments Human Rights Council member states who imprison “blasphemers”“; ““Insult” and “offence” are used to silence and jail online journalists“; “What is free expression when journalists and activists are “banned or punished by lashes, prison or the death penalty”?“.) (Also see: “The Human Rights Council: “a parody of itself”“; “Saudi Arabia’s new law defines atheism as “terrorism”, bans all criticism of government“.)

Please act now

Western powers who regard Saudi Arabia as an ally are not doing enough. We must act in solidarity with Raif Badawi ourselves.

1. Tweet in support of Raif Badawi with the hashtag #FreeRaif.

2. Sign the change.org petition!

3. Most importantly, please send your own urgent appeal on behalf of yourself or your organization to:

King and Prime Minister                                       

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:  011 966 1 403 3125 [Update: it appears this fax is now switched off]

Minister of the Interior

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin 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 [Update: it appears this fax is now switched off]

Minister of Justice

Sheikh Dr Mohammed bin Abdul Kareem Al-Issa
Ministry of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741 | +966 1 402 0311 [Update: it appears these faxes are now switched off]

Please also send copies to your ambassador or other diplomatic representatives for your country. Call on your ambassador to raise the case with Saudi authorities and local representatives to raise the case in your own country.

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