Just after the attack on Charlie Hebdo staff, I mentioned the harsh sentence given to another blogger and his human rights lawyer in my post “Nous sommes Charlie 2“.
I had read about the case of Saudi blogger mr Raif Badawi on the website of a UK newspaper. He had been sentenced to a 1000 whiplashes and less than three days after the attack at the Charlie Hebdo office and while the siege at the Jewish Kosher shop was still in progress, he was dragged out of prison and publicly whipped fifty times for the first time. He was to receive another 50 whip lashes in public each Friday for another nineteen – yes nineteen – weeks.
The newspaper article also mentioned mr Badawi’s lawyer, mr Waleed Abu al-Khair, who has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in Saudi Arabia.
This shocking news, while in France the sieges were still going on, made me google the local Amnesty International site straight away. Sure enough, it contained an English letter anybody could download and send off to the Saudi embassy in their own country. I know a few of you did this.
This week, CNN finally reported live about the case and how on earth the Saudi government could do this, while in France and other countries people united in marches for freedom of speech and press freedom. Other national and international papers also took on this case and Amnesty International as well as other groups organised protest demonstrations.
The good news is, that prison doctors in Jeddah concluded the wounds of last Friday had not healed enough, so today’s 50 lashes should be postponed.
The real good news would of course have been for this cruel sentence to be lifted and the flogging to be stopped immediately, but that is to hope too much from the legal system of this country one supposes.
Imagine being jailed for blogging for years and also have to face twenty weeks of agony and public torture. It would be enough to drive me mad. So if you’re a blogger, I especially ask you to think hard about this case. Most of us are free to post whatever we want on our blogs. Most of us will not be arrested and sentenced to years of imprisonment including a 1000 lashes spread out over 20 weeks for blogging.
If this compels you to act like me, you should be able to find an Amnesty International website to either sign their petition by clicking on a button, or to download a pre-written letter which content you should not change, but copy into a mail you send off to the Saudi Arabian embassy in your country.
For those of you who took action on behalf of mr Badawi and his lawyer mr Abu al-Khair: thank you!
Unfortunately, not all the news is good: Monday, a Burmese woman was beheaded in Saudi Arabia. The executor blotched his job. He needed to strike three times before her head was severed from her body. What if her claims she was innocent and falsely accused are true?