Saudi Arabia: poet Ashraf Fayadh continues to serve lengthy prison sentence

On 2 February 2016, the poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. A year later, despite ongoing calls for his release, Fayadh remains in prison.

In the year since, we’ve continued to actively campaign for Fayadh’s release – holding regular monthly vigils at the Saudi Embassy in London, highlighting his case at festivals and events across the UK, and lobbying the authorities both in Saudi Arabia and here in the UK.

In January 2017, we were delighted that Fayadh was awarded the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression in recognition of his courage in the face of great adversity. Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, stated:

This award is not only our way of honouring courageous writers and journalists who continue to fight for freedom of expression at great personal risk, it is also a way of telling those who seek to silence them that the world is watching.

Despite our best efforts and those of many other organisations and individuals the world over, Fayadh continues to languish in prison. It is therefore crucial that we keep up the pressure, both on the Saudi authorities to release him and on our own governments to publicly condemn his detention and call for his release.

In order to maintain awareness of his case, we are delighted to announce that English PEN has been invited to publish a UK edition of Fayadh’s Instructions Within, translated by Mona Kareem. Ten pages from the collection, first published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia, were among the evidence used to convict him. The Operating System, an independent US publisher, has since worked with Kareem and others to put together a US version and we are honoured to have been asked to produce a UK version, the proceeds of which will go towards our ongoing campaign in support of Fayadh’s release.

If you like to receive a notification once the publication is available please email with the subject title ‘Instructions Within’. In the meantime, please continue to show your support for Fayadh and other writers at risk in Saudi Arabia.

Take action

  • Show your support for Ashraf Fayadh by sending messages, poetry or artwork via the dedicated website com
  • Share details of his case and examples of his writingwith friends and colleagues and on social media. #FreeAshraf
  • Join our monthly vigils at the Saudi Embassy in London
  • Write to the Saudi authorities calling for his immediate and unconditional release – more details below.

Please send appeals:

  • Raising concerns over the continued detention of Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh;
  • Urging the government to immediately commute his sentence of 800 lashes, as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Calling on the authorities to release Ashraf Fayadh immediately and unconditionally, as he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on Saudi Arabia to ratify, without reservation, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Send appeals to:

His Majesty
King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Majesty
Crown Prince and Minister of the Interior
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
Fax: +966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Royal Highness
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa
Ministry of Justice,
University Street
Riyadh 11137 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 1 401 1741 + 966 11 402 0311
Salutation: Your Excellency 

It is recommended that you send a copy of your appeals via the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country. Contact details for embassies can be found here.

About Cat Lucas

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

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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