17 June: Day of Action. Free Raif Badawi

Wednesday 17 June 2015

1.30pm: Letter hand-in Downing Street. 6.30pm: Public meeting Parliament

To mark the third anniversary of the arrest of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and to demand his freedom, campaigners in the UK will deliver an Open Letter to the Prime Minister and hold a public meeting in Parliament on Wednesday 17 June.

Join us for two events on 17 June in London:

1.30pm: A letter hand-in to David Cameron at Downing Street

6.30pm: A public meeting in Parliament.

See full details below.

The 17 June events are organised by Free Raif UK, English Pen, Index on Censorship, One Law for All and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, is part of the Downing Street delegation and will speak at the parliamentary meeting. He said:

“Raif Badawi is a human rights hero. He’s been jailed for expressing liberal opinions. His incarceration violates international human rights statutes that guarantee freedom of expression. The UK government should cease its support for a Saudi state that persecutes its own people. David Cameron has a moral obligation to speak out publicly against all human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and to specifically call for the immediate, unconditional release of Raif Badawi, his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair and all political prisoners. Arms sales to Saudi Arabia must end, the British ambassador should be recalled and key regime figures sanctioned internationally.”

Activist and blogger Raif Badawi was first arrested on 17 June 2012. Three years later, he remains in prison on charges that are politically motivated. To mark the third anniversary of his arrest activists are coming together to organise a Day of Action in London on 17 June 2015.

Raif Badawi had already spent almost two years in prison before being 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 was due to continue every Friday until he had received a total of 1,000 lashes. However, subsequent floggings have not gone ahead, initially because Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment. No explanation has been given for the postponement of further floggings. In June 2015, the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold this draconian sentence.

Meanwhile, Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair is serving 15 years in prison for his peaceful activism.

To mark the third anniversary of his arrest, organisations and individuals actively campaigning for Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair are holding a Day of Action.

Day of Action for Raif Badawi

The Day of Action will begin with a mass social media message (sent through ThunderClap) at 11am. Throughout the day, activists across the UK and the world will be encouraged to join the Day of Action on social media, by lobbying the Saudi authorities and sending messages of support to the families of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair. #freeraif #freewaleed

From 1.30pm – Protest Letter Delivery at Downing Street

Organisations and individuals actively campaigning for Raif Badawi’s release will be holding a rally opposite Downing Street from 1.30pm. At 2pm, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and activist Peter Tatchell will join Jo Glanville (Director, English PEN), Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and International Front for Secularism), Pete Radcliff (Free Raif UK) and Melody Patry (Index on Censorship) to deliver a letter signed by hundreds of groups and individuals to the Prime Minister.

Cross-party MPs and peers including Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas MP, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Natalie McGarry MP, Stewart McDonald MP, and John McDonnell MP will also join the delegation.

The full text of the letter and list of signatories is available here: https://freeraifbadawi.wordpress.com

From 6.30pm – Public meeting, Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House

Representatives of campaigning organisations will come together with MPs to discuss and consider how best to secure the release of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair. Speakers include:

• Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
• Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Co-ordinator , Campaign Against Arms Trade
• Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
• Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party
• John McDonnell, Labour Party, Hayes and Harlington
• Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All
• Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
• Jimmy Wales (via video link)

The entrance to Portcullis House is on the Victoria Embankment. Please be aware that there will be standard security searches as with many other government buildings.

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