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Protest at Saudi Arabian Embassy over plans to flog activist with family in Canada

    January 08, 2015

    Media Advisory

    8 January 2015

    Human rights activists in Ottawa will be holding a demonstration outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, 201 Sussex Drive at 4 p.m. today. Amnesty International has learned that the imprisoned Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public after Friday prayers tomorrow in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

    Raif Badawi, a Saudi citizen, was arrested in Saudi Arabia on 17 June 2012. They charged him with insulting Islam and creating the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website for social and political debate. The charges related to articles Raif wrote criticizing religious figures.

    After his arrest, his wife and three young children sought refuge in Canada; they now live in Quebec.

    Raif Badawi’s case bounced back and forth between courts until 7 May 2014. On that day, the Criminal Court pronounced a sentence of 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million riyals (about $290,000 CDN). After he serves a decade in jail, he is also forbidden to travel for the following decade and from participating in the media.

    Since March 2011 the authorities have continued a relentless campaign of repression in the name of security. The authorities have cracked down on peaceful activists calling for reforms and on demonstrators protesting against human rights violations. Those who express dissent face arrest and imprisonment whether they are critics, bloggers, activists or academics. Raif Badawi is just one of many.

    “The news that Raif Badawi’s flogging will start tomorrow is shocking. The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately halt all plans to carry out this brutal sentence. Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment are prohibited under international law, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.

    “It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.”

    Amnesty International considers Raif Badawi a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his sentence to be quashed and for him to be released immediately and unconditionally.

    For further information please see:

    Take action now:

    • Sign our e-action
    • Write a letter
    • Phone the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Canada at 613-237-4100. Call on authorities to stop Raif's flogging and release him from prison.

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667#236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

                                                                                                     

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