June 17, 2021, marks nine years since the arrest of Saudi journalist and blogger Raif Badawi, who was arbitrarily arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing the ruling regime and demanding change, easing restrictions on freedoms and allowing the Saudi people to express their opinion freely and democratically.
Despite being detained for almost a decade, the Saudi security authorities have included Badawi’s name in another fabricated case like the previous, where he was accused of damaging the kingdom’s reputation and inciting public opinion, although he did not criticize the current regime nor the Crown Prince, as he was detained before King Salman came to power.
Together for Justice affirms that the mistreatment of Raif Badawi and the rest of the prisoners of conscience, including the clear persecution and unfair trials, is what harm the reputation of the Kingdom and the Saudi regime with its security, media, and judicial authorities.
The organization stresses that the international indifference towards the tyranny of the Saudi regime played a major role in the continued violation of the rights of citizens at home and abroad, with complete disregard of international laws or treaties as they know for sure that they will not be subjected to any kind of accountability.
Together for Justice strongly condemns the position of the new US administration headed by Joe Biden, which pledged to make the Saudi regime a “pariah” if the human rights situation in the Kingdom does not improve, and despite the fact that the pace of violations is escalating, Biden refused to punish the Crown Prince for his direct involvement in Khashoggi’s assassination, which resulted in increasing the number of victims of this regime.
Samar Badawi, Raif’s sister, was also let down internationally as she won a high award from the US State Department in 2012 during the Obama administration, but she did not receive any support since then from the US administration, although this award was a major reason for targeting her by the Saudi authorities.
In addition to Raif and Samar, Walid Abu Al-Khair, Raif’s brother-in-law, is serving a 15-year prison sentence for being Raif Badawi’s lawyer.
The list is long, but it is easy to reduce the numbers if the international community joins efforts and takes serious measures to pressure the Kingdom to release prisoners of conscience.
It should be noted that the failure of the international community to respond to Saudi Arabia’s reaction against Canada after its criticism of what Raif and his detained sister Samar Badawi are exposed to, has paved the way for Khashoggi’s murder.
That year, 2018, shortly before Khashoggi’s murder, Canada demanded an improvement in the Saudi human rights conditions and defended Raif and Samar – one of the women’s rights advocates- but in return, bin Salman took diplomatic action against Canada and publicly threatens it.
When Canada appealed to its democratic allies for solidarity, its plea was ignored. Therefore, negative reactions to the kingdom’s repressive practices encouraged Riyadh to continue its violations.
Raif Badawi’s case is a good opportunity for the Biden administration -if it really seeks to reduce the extent of human rights violations in the kingdom- to defend him, as his defense is a matter of principle that must not be compromised.
Raif Badawi’s release – which will be too late, of course – would be a life-changing development for his three young children, who were forced to flee to Canada as refugees and who are growing up without their father.
It will also be a relief for his wife, Ensaf Haider, who bears the children’s sole responsibility and is now threatened with arrest and prosecution in the new case that her husband was involved in.