English PEN will be continuing to hold weekly vigils outside the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in London, in support of Raif Badawi every Friday at 9:00 AM GMT
Raif Badawi is an activist and blogger who was convicted in May 2014 for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and a ten-year prison sentence. In addition, the court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to 1,000 lashes.
On 9 January 2015, after morning prayers, Badawi was flogged 50 times. This punishment is due to continue every Friday until he has received a total of 1,000 lashes. However, subsequent floggings, scheduled for 16 and 23 January, did not go ahead as Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment.
According to an update issued by our colleagues at Amnesty International (26 January):
‘Although Raif Badawi’s scheduled public flogging on Friday 23 January was not carried out, the prison doctor who examined Raif Badawi that morning argued he was fit to be flogged. This is in direct contradiction to the recommendation of a medical committee only two days earlier. He continues to be at risk of receiving the remaining 950 lashes.’
English PEN is in regular contact with Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who remains gravely concerned for his well-being. She is extremely grateful for PEN’s ongoing support and has urged us to keep fighting.
Please join us and Index on Censorship for our third vigil this Friday, 30 January, from 9am. Activists are asked to meet at the Curzon Street entrance to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mayfair, London (note: the postal address of the Embassy is 30-32 Charles Street).
In the meantime, please send an updated letter of appeal to the Saudi authorities – a sample letter is available below.
Letter to the authorities
Send to: [email protected]
(Please cc: [email protected])
I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express serious concern for Raif Badawi.
According to PEN’s information, on 9 January 2015 imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi received the first round of 50 lashes in a public flogging after Friday prayers. Badawi is now due to receive 50 lashes each Friday until he has received 1,000 lashes, although subsequent floggings, scheduled for 16 and 23 January, have not gone ahead for medical reasons.
I join PEN in calling for his sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately, as well as for Badawi’s conviction to be quashed and for him to be released unconditionally.
I would welcome your comments on my appeal.