A call to action

Let’s not forget Raif Badawi…

otium satis

Those who keep track of the fate of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, most especially his brave family, will know that this year is marked by a special kind of sad anniversary: on 17 June Raif Badawi will have completed his fifth year in prison.

Five years at the hand of a spiteful regime that does not seem to know the difference between concerns about overdue reforms and blasphemy. Five years of isolation from his beloved family, from all that might sustain his spirit during his imprisonment. And on top of all this Raif Badawi has suffered a cruel public flogging – 50 out of the inhuman total of 1000 lashes. As far as we know he has not been subjected to another flogging. But the threat, that his horrible punishment might be resumed, keeps hovering like Damocles’ sword that might fall again anytime.

All this has happened, because Raif…

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Three years of injustice – Freedom for Mahmoud Abu Zeid „Shawkan“

Here is another human rights case I have been following through the last years. Therefore I’d like to share this excellent post writen by CiLuna, which not only sums up Shawkan’s story and ordeal, but also provides some advise how to help to end this injustice.

There is also a sequel to this post by the same author named Sky for Shawkan that proposes another way to show your support to this imprisoned photojournalist.

ciluna27's Blog

bg_bild_ShawkanMahmoud Abu Zeid who is better known under the name „Shawkan“ is a young Egyptian photographer. He is 28 years old and he worked as freelance photographer and contributed to the photo agencies Demotix and Corbis. His photographs were in many well-known and well-regarded newspapers and magazines like the German newspaper Die Zeit and the US Time magazine. He made photos of daily life in Egypt, including festivals and street life. With the beginning of the Arab Spring uprising he also covered political protests. You can find a sample of his amazing photos here.

Shawkan has been in prison for almost three years without a trial or a judgement. By his ongoing detention, Egypt violates International law, but also their own laws. Pursuant to Art. 134 Egyptian Code for Criminal Procedures the pre-trial detention must not exceed two years (if the alleged offence is punishable by life imprisonment or death, in other cases…

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17th of June

This date does not only mark the anniversary of the People’s Uprising in East Germany – today is also the day on which Raif Badawi has spent three years in prison.

That’s why I have decided to dedicate another text to him. Due to the latest news from Saudi Arabia the situation though looks very differently compared to the one on the day when I started to write down the first thoughts to this text.

But in reality aside from the fact that now there is only a single possibility to set aside this sentence – an intervention by the king – to this day not much has changed. Raif Badawi has been in prison since three years now, which means that from this time on he hasn’t had much of a life anymore, at least none which deserves this name. The powerful and influential of his country have deprived this man already of three years of his life – three years that can’t be given back. And according to the sentence that now has become effective seven more are supposed to follow. That means if he will live to see them at all. Then if the death penalty on instalments, which hides its true character by hiding the name it actually deserves, is executed as intended, is that not guaranteed.

It is true – so far Raif Badawi hasn’t been flogged anymore – although it is not clear for which reasons. Until the morning of the 7th of June it had become an ordinariness to wait each Friday for that reassuring message, for many of us the fear has become less big than in the first weeks of January and February. The confirmation of the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia has brought us back to the ground of reality and showed us that the risk is still there, in the same way as it was there in the second week of January this year and the reaction from official side haven’t been sufficient yet to achieve a release.

This is and stays the only acceptable solution. Although Raif Badawi hasn’t been hurt physically since the 9th of January, one has to consider what this uncertainty about what will happen now, if and when these remaining 950 lashes will be executed which reaches its peak each Friday again, now means to this young Arab and how nerve-racking that has to be for him. That is nothing else than psychological torture. After all since January he has been in an empty space without indications how the future will look like, no dates as tangible fixed points in immediate future and has to be prepared for the worst every single week. This fear increases of course even more due to said court decision; the situation appears to be more hopeless than ever.

Nevertheless there are still glimmers of hope. The Saudi government for example already can’t ignore the case anymore for a long time and finds itself constrained to repeat over and over again that the human rights are guaranteed in its country. The fact that despite the sentence and corresponding reports by domestic media the flogging hasn’t been executed last Friday suggests that the public opinion doesn’t go unheard.

That all is a good start. But now it is even more important to insist and stand up for a release of Raif Badawi more than ever – even if that means that our governments for once have to put their own economic interest on the bottom of the list.

Raif Badawi is a peaceful man, who is punished solely for having the courage to have his own opinion and to share it with the world around him even if he discusses topics which are taboo for certain not irrelevant population groups of his country. It is absolutely desirable that Raif Badawi can be soon reunited with his family and will be able to live a normal life. That also is the place where he deserves to be – with his wife and his children in the first place but also because that means that he would be able to speak out his thoughts without fear of further repression and to share them with people who are just as concerned about the fate of the world.

The original German version can be found here:

https://saminana.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/17-juni/