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Saudi Arabia must release Raif Badawi

18th June 2015, 11:49:06 UTC

Today in Dublin, Amnesty International and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) activists gathered outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy to demand the immediate release of Raif Badawi. Today is the 3rd anniversary of Raif’s arrest.

Raif Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes in public and 10 years in prison was recently upheld by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court. Raif has already been flogged 50 times in Jeddah on 9 January and has been in prison for the past 5 months. He was convicted under Saudi law of ‘insulting Islam through electronic channels’. Raif Badawi’s ‘crime’ is that he set up a website Free Saudi Liberals.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

“Raif Badawi’s only crime, in the words of his wife Ensaf was ‘he took to his keyboard and set up a website’ to start a discussion on the political direction of Saudi Arabia. This is not a crime.

“We are here today, as we have been here regularly for the past 5 months, to insist that Saudi Arabia must immediately and unconditionally release Raif Badawi.

“Millions of Amnesty International supporters across the world, journalists and political leaders have spoken out loud and clear. We must keep the focus on Raif and the momentum going until the day when he walks free and returns to his wife and young family.”

Gerard Curran, Cathaoirleach of the National Union of Journalists said:

“Raif Badawi is being punished simply because he said let’s think about having a conversation about how we are governed. Such public displays of barbarity only help bring that conversation closer and in a manner more dangerous to the status quo – because human dignity cannot be eradicated and the patience of any society can only be tested for so long.

What amazes me most is the failure of the Saudi regime not to understand that the dignity of the human condition cannot be broken into pieces. Their actions cannot stop the dissemination of ideas or people posing alternatives to how you do things. The utter hypocrisy of Saudi Arabian leaders marching in support of French journalists under attack in Paris while they still hold and beat Raif for doing the same job is beyond comprehension.

The National Union of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists will not be leaving this issue alone. We will continue to bring attention to this shame as long as you bring down the lash onto the body of our broken body colleague, Raif Badawi”