Saudi Arabia: British government must raise human rights abuses

English PEN and our We Are Raif coalition colleagues have today written to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond urging him to raise concerns about PEN Pinter Prize winner Raif Badawi and others detained in Saudi Arabia.

28 October 2015

Dear Foreign Secretary

We are writing to you on behalf of We Are Raif UK: a campaign for free speech and human rights in Saudi Arabia.

We are extremely concerned by the statement issued by the Raif Badawi Foundation on behalf of Mr Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar yesterday (27 October). According to the statement, Ms Haidar received information from an ‘informed source’ that the Saudi Arabian authorities plan to resume flogging her husband. This information appears to have come from the same source that correctly informed her of the first flogging in January 2015.

As you are aware, Raif Badawi is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia in violation of his right to freedom of expression. Mr Badawi was also sentenced to 1000 lashes: the first 50 of these were administered on 9 January 2015. According to our information, he was due to receive 50 lashes each week for a further 19 weeks.

Ms Haidar understands that her husband’s case is under review by the Supreme Court. If the Foreign Office has any further information on the progress of Raif Badawi’s case, we would strongly urge you to share this with his wife and children, and with the general public.

Of further concern is the news that the Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence against Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Sheik Nimr al-Nimr’s nephew Ali al-Nimr is also among those sentenced to death for his involvement in anti-government protests. An urgent protest calling for the release of Sheikh al-Nimr, Ali al-Nimr, and others facing the death sentence was held outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia London today, Wednesday 28 October.

Earlier this month, we warmly welcomed the news that the government had cancelled their bid to sell prison training services to the Saudi government. We hope that the government will take an equally strong position on the concerns outlined in this letter, and use your influence to urge Saudi Arabia to put an end to human rights abuses domestically and to its complicity with human rights abuses in the region.

Yours sincerely

We Are Raif UK

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

Campaign Against Arms Trade

English PEN

Free Raif UK

Index on Censorship

The Jimmy Wales Foundation

The Peter Tatchell Foundation

One Law For All

Join us this Friday at the Saudi Embassy in London to continue calling for the immediate release of Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair. And please consider pledging to protest in the event that Raif is flogged again. Thank you.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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