Raif Badawi in isolation, 5 years after his first 50 lashes

Humanists International and other human rights organizations renew their call for the immediate release of Raif Badawi

  • post Type / General news
  • Date / 9 January 2020

In 2012 Saudi writer and activist Raif Badawi was imprisoned for advocating liberalism and secularism, and for “insulting Islam”. Last month, Badawi was arbitrarily moved into isolation, As was his lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair. Humanists International and other human rights organizations call upon Saudi Arabia for their immediate release.

Wies De Graeve, Director of Amnesty Belgium, sits in cage outside the Saudi Embassy

A cage stands outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Brussels: this is the symbolic protest organised by Amnesty International and the Free University of Brussels today, 9 January 2020, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the first 50 lashes given to Raif Badawi. Belgian human rights activists, politicians and personalities are stepping in to cages throughout the day to demand the release of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair.

In 2006, Badawi founded the “Saudi Liberal Network“, an online forum meant to encourage a debate on freedom of expression and to spread liberal values in Saudi Arabia. In 2007 he was arrested by the Saudi religious police, who eventually released him with no charges. Then in 2008 Badawi was detained again on apostasy charges, and finally in 2012 he was arrested a third time on a charge of “insulting Islam through electronic channels”.

Raif Badawi – now six years in prison!

It’s been six years since Raif Badawi was imprisoned. He’s been publicly lashed and missed his children growing up. All because he wrote in favour of secularism and liberalism in Saudi Arabia. Please share our short film widely. #FreeRaif

Pubblicato da Humanists International su Venerdì 15 giugno 2018


Following his 2012 arrest, in 2013 Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes – sentence that was then increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million riyal (equal to about $USD 267,000). Humanists International has continued to closely follow the case, delivering a personal plea to the United Nations from his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and calling for his immediate release many times.

Humanists International Vice President, Anne-France Ketelaer

Vice-President of Humanists International, Anne-France Ketelaer,  released the following statement today in Brussels:

“We continue to be seriously concerned for the welfare and situation of Raif Badawi and lawyer Waleed Abulkhair.

“We support the action organised by the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) today and hope that people pay attention and continue to fight for the release of these brave individuals.

As long as one of us is not free, none of us are.

Humanists International Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey

Humanists International Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, also in Brussels today, commented:

“The Brussels protest today coincides with Spanish Football’s “Super Cup” event taking place in Saudi Arabia (as part of a contract reportedly worth 40 million euros a year).

“Saudi Arabia’s recent interest in sports is clearly a soft power tactic to help distract from the kingdom’s ongoing human rights abuses. And the Spanish Football Association (FA) is playing into its hands by helping to support an aggressive ‘sportswashing’ strategy which seeks to cover up the horrific human rights record of the Saudi regime.

“Instead of making disingenuous claims that their presence will be a tool of social change, we urge sporting associations, like the Spanish FA, to use its influence to call for the release of Badawi, Abulkhair, and others – such as like Ashraf Fayadh and Ahamd al Shamri – as well call for genuine equality for women by abolishing the guardian system and releasing the many women human rights defenders imprisoned there.

“There is only so much we human rights advocates can do so long as powerful and influential institutions continue, for the sake of greed, to legitimise countries like Saudi Arabia and its human rights abuses.

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