The Nobel Women’s Initiative has sent an open letter to Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, urging the immediate release of Raif Badawi. Badawi, is a writer and activist from Saudi Arabia and was arrested in May 2014 for creating the ‘Saudi Arabian Liberal’ website for which he was accused of insulting Islam.
The Government of Saudi Arabia sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and ordered him to pay a large monetary fine. On Friday, January 9th, the sentenced lashes were carried out and Raif Badawi was lashed 50 times. The lashes are ordered every week on Fridays, for a period of 19 weeks.
A committee compromised of eights doctors have assessed Badawi and find him unfit for flogging and recommend stopping this horrific act. Badawi is one of the many activists in Saudi Arabia who has been persecuted for expressing their views online. Saudi Arabia authorities continue to silence the voices of human rights activists and violate international human rights law.
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
January 22, 2015
RE: Release activist Mr. Raif Badawi
The Nobel Women’s Initiative calls for the immediate release of Mr. Raif Badawi who was sentenced for exercising his right to freedom of expression on 7 May 2014. We are gravely concerned for his wellbeing and urge your government to take immediate action to stop the flogging that is scheduled to be continued this Friday, and release him unconditionally.
Raif Badawi was convicted of insulting Islam with the creation of the Free Saudi Liberals website. His writing was intended to establish political and social debate in Saudi Arabia. Instead, his views were seen to be suspicious and disrespectful to Islam and its clerics. He was banned from leaving Saudi Arabia in 2008 and a fatwa was put on his life in 2011. Since then, he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a large monetary fine.
We believe that this sentence is unjust and inhuman. Flogging is human torture and thus is a violation of international human rights law, particularly the Convention Against Torture. After a series of tests on Raif Badawi, a committee of eight medical doctors recommended that he not undergo further flogging. This assessment is a testament to the cruelty of such punishment and it must be taken seriously.
This is not an isolated incident. Saudi Arabia has a history of silencing vocal human rights activists who have campaigned through online forums. Restrictions set by the Saudi Arabian government have included arbitrary detention of its citizens, restrictions on the rights of women and travel bans on activists. These tactics of intimidation and harassment are violations to human rights.
As such, the Nobel Women’s Initiative calls for:
– The immediate release of Raif Badawi and the protection of human rights defenders and activists in Saudi Arabia.
– Action to ensure the safety of Raif Badawi including halting further punishment of flogging.
– Protection of all human rights defenders and activists in Saudi Arabia and the commitment from the government to uphold all international human rights laws.
These actions on the part of the government of Saudi Arabia are crucial to setting a precedent of protection for future citizens who carry out peaceful and legitimate work in defense of freedom of speech and human rights. We urge you to take note and action: release Raif Badawi and prevent further violations on his rights and safety.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative