In May 2014, the Saudi Arabia government sentenced Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
He was convicted of insulting Islam through his writings and on his website, which was set up to encourage public debate. On Friday 9 January 2015, Raif received the first 50 of 1,000 painful lashes.
An eyewitness said that “he was silent, but you could tell that he was in real pain”. Raif is due to receive another 50 lashes, probably every Friday for 19 weeks. This can’t be allowed to continue.
Saudi Arabia condemned the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris as ‘cowardly’. The next day, they flogged Raif Badawi for exercising his right to free expression. We need to expose this hypocrisy. We need to embarrass them into action, now.
Here are five ways you can help
It would be great if you could include #FreeRaif and @AmnestyOnline on any tweets you send.
1. Tweet Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is very sensitive about its public image and international standing. If we target officials publicly, they could be forced to respond and publicly shamed into stopping the flogging. Here are a few Twitter accounts to try:
Ministry of Justice: @MojKsaNational Society for Human Rights: @NSHRSA
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: @KSAMOFA
Crown Prince and Minister of defence, Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud: @HRHPSalman
2. Get your government to pressure Saudi Arabia
Your government should be doing all it can to make Saudi Arabia do the right thing. Tweet your government’s official accounts (for example, your Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or your country’s embassy in Saudi Arabia) and ask them to push Saudi Arabia to stop the flogging and release Raif now. Here are the Twitter accounts for some country embassies in Saudi Arabia:
UK: @UKinSaudiArabiaNetherlands: @NLinSaudiArabia
3. Contact the Saudi Arabian embassy in your country
Search online for the phone or fax details of the Saudi Arabia embassy in your country, and call them up to demand that Raif is not flogged again and that they release him immediately. We know this can be a particularly effective (and annoying) form of campaigning. You could also Tweet them, though the only Saudi Arabian embassies known to have Twitter accounts are the USA @SaudiEmbassyUSA and UK @SaudiEmbassyUK.
If you’re not on Twitter, you can find the contact details of the Saudi Arabia embassy in your country here.
4. Demonstrate outside the Saudi Arabian embassy
Across the globe, campaigners have started to organize protests outside Saudi Arabia embassies. Contact your local Amnesty International office to see if something is already planned, or get some friends together to organize your own demonstration.
5. Tweet your support to Raif and his family
Please send your messages of solidarity to Raif’s family, so they know we are standing with them and pressing Saudi Arabia to release him. Tweet to @raif_badawi (Raif’s official Twitter account) and @miss9afi (Raif’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with their three children).
Ensaf has told us she fears her husband may not be able to physically withstand a second round of lashes. “Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor,” she said.
“I told our children about the news last week so that they would not find out about it from friends at school. It is a huge shock for them. International pressure is crucial, I believe if we keep up the support it will eventually pay off. We must keep on fighting.”