Vigil to request the reunification of Raïf Badawi with his family
Following the release of blogger Raïf Badawi on March 11 after 10 years of detention in Saudi Arabia, supporters gathered Thursday noon in downtown Montreal to demand that the man be reunited with his family in Canada.
This solidarity vigil is organized by the organization Amnesty International, which calls for maintaining pressure on the Saudi authorities so that Raïf Badawi can be reunited with his family in Canada as soon as possible.
Although he was released from prison, Mr. Badawi is still banned from leaving Saudi Arabia and using any social media for the next 10 years. However, the family of the honorary citizen of the City of Montreal resides in Sherbrooke. “Raïf in Sherbrooke! Raif in Canada! Freedom of expression for all”, chanted the demonstrators.
It is therefore a “half-hearted celebration” for the director general of the French section of Amnesty International, France-Isabelle Langlois. Mr. Badawi “is not at the end of his troubles,” she said, recalling the sanctions that still weigh on him. […] There is also a fine associated with his sentence.”
Amnesty International says it hasn't heard much from Raif Badawi apart from the fact that he has been talking to his wife, Ensaf Haidar, every day since his release and that he is in a “safe place”. The blogger was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he served entirely, after calling on his website for an end to religious influence in the Saudi kingdom, governed by Wahhabism, a rigorous version of Islam. Islam.
If he had also been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, Raïf Badawi finally received 50, recalled Ms. Langlois. “The penalty of flogging has also been abolished in Saudi Arabia, so we can think that the mobilization we have led against the whippings for Raïf and other rights defenders will have contributed to the cancellation of this medieval penalty for the world. “, she specified.
In order not to harm the possibility for Raïf Badawi to obtain the royal pardon from the king of Saudi Arabia, perhaps during Ramadan, Amnesty International stresses that it does not want to make “too big a splash” by mobilizing.
Liberation for all
The rally was also an opportunity for Amnesty International to campaign for the release of all human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
Indeed, the organization denounces the fact that repression is still rife in Saudi Arabia, pointing out that 81 people were killed in the Middle Eastern country last Saturday, March 12, a day after Raif Badawi was released from prison.
According to Amnesty, several dozen people are currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for their activism, human rights work or for expressing dissenting views.
And even once free, human rights defenders are forced to sign pledges, which often include a ban on public speaking, human rights activities and the use of social media. “These conditions violate the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the organization said.