International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 32nd Session (13th June – 1st July 2016)
General Debate on Item 4 – Human Rights Situations of Concern
Speaker: Elizabeth O’Casey
Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinain poet who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia – a country where atheists are legally defined as terrorists. He was accused of “spreading atheism”, of insulting “the divine self”, and objecting to concepts of fate as acts of God. He was also linked to exposing brutality by the Saudi religious police.
For this, he was sentenced to death for “apostasy”, to be carried out via beheading by sword. Earlier this year, Fayadh’s death sentence was overturned, and he was re-sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.
We have of course, raised Fayadh’s case with this Council before, as we have been raising, like many, the cases of Raif Badawi, Waleed Abulkhair, Ali al-Nimr, and others
And have many times argued that, as a member of this Council, the pre-eminent body tasked with protecting and promoting human rights, Saudi Arabia has a clear and uncompromising responsibility to uphold and respect the highest standards of human rights.
But our arguments and words have fallen on deaf ears.
There has been no change.
So, instead we end this statement today with Fayadh’s own words; the words for which he is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and for some time threatened with state murder.
Since Ashraf Fayadh cannot speak them at home, I trust I can read them here, in the very forum created to promote all rights – including freedom of expression and belief – universally and unashamedly with the freedom Fayadh himself deserves as a human being just seeking to add a little reason and beauty to the world.
Prophets have retired
so do not wait, for a prophet to be resurrected for you.
And for you,
for you the observers bring their daily reports
and earn their high wages.
How much money is necessary
for a life of dignity.
'Ashraf Fayadh: the Palestinian poet imprisoned in Saudi Arabia', Humanists International