A death sentence for the crime of Free Expression
I have been sent this anonymous account and asked to post it on my blog.
Prisoner of conscience: Raif Badawi
“It is abhorrent that this cruel and unjust sentence has been upheld. Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.”
The decision on Sunday by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court to uphold the depraved sentence imposed on the blogger Raif Badawi last May by the criminal court in Jidda is tantamount to a death sentence for the “crime” of free expression. The criminal court sentenced Mr. Badawi, whose case has invited worldwide condemnation, to 1,000 lashes, 50 to be administered “very harshly,” in public, once a week for 20 weeks. In addition, he is to serve 10 years in prison and pay a fine of 1 million riyals, about $267,000. There is no further appeal possible in the Saudi courts. At this point, Mr. Badawi’s only hope lies in a pardon from King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
In 2008, Mr. Badawi, now 31 years old, helped found a website, Free Saudi Liberals, that hosted discussion critical of Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment. He was arrested in 2012, charged with cybercrime. .Social media has exploded among Saudi Arabia’s youth, providing a rare outlet for free expression in a society that severely restricts it.
His initial sentence of 600 blows and seven years of imprisonment was increased last May after prosecutors deemed his sentence too lenient. It seems clear that the Saudi judiciary intends to make an example of Mr. Badawi. Mr. Badawi received the first 50 lashes in January. His wounds were so severe that a team of doctors determined he was unfit to receive a second round of lashes the following week. Mr. Badawi has not been flogged since, but there is real fear following the Supreme Court’s decision that the punishment may resume as early as this Friday, putting his life at risk. His death, or his crippling for life, another real possibility, would be a blot that even Saudi Arabia — known for administering brutal punishments that include amputations and beheadings — would find difficult to live down.
The United States has called Mr. Badawi’s punishment inhumane. The European Union has vowed to make “every effort to engage the Saudi authorities in a dialogue on the need to recognize and respect freedom of speech for all.” Mr. Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, and the couple’s three children have been granted asylum in Canada. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins June 18. This is a good time for King Salman, crowned four months ago, to demonstrate his magnanimity, grant Mr. Badawi clemency and allow him to join his family.
I read the above report and thought could Amos Yee takes the same route to Canada, or any other country of his choice? I am concerned for this 16 years old child.