May 15, 2014, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued the following statement (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47797#.VLT9xkY8KJI ) on Raef Bandawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a 1 million Saudi riyal fine:
“This outrageous conviction should be overturned and Mr. Badawi immediately released,” said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue; the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez; and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas.”
But it is happening.
It started last Friday. Here is what, like many, The Times of India reports (http://m.timesofindia.com/world/middle-east/Saudi-blogger-lashed-in-public-for-insulting-Islam/articleshow/45824671.cms ):
“JEDDAH: Saudi blogger Raef Badawi was flogged in public Friday near a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, receiving 50 lashes for “insulting Islam”, witnesses said. In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Badawi, and he is expected to have 20 weekly whipping sessions until his punishment is complete. The United States, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have denounced the flogging as a horrific form of punishment, and said Badawi was exercising his right to freedom of expression.”
This is why it is so incredibly important to continue with a public discussion on torture, following the release of the U.S. Senate’s report on coercive interrogation methods by the CIA amounting to torture: Cruelty is a family member of Torture, and I identified Sadism and Rape as other brothers and sisters in it, in earlier statements on this blog. The legitimacy of condemnation of such methods applied by others critically depends on how one deals with own behavior, and history. Once we allow ourselves to do whatever we want, disrespecting international Conventions, we mute ourselves when we are being confronted with outrageous action of others.
So, here is the US Department of State’s public statement ( http://m.state.gov/md235704.htm ) as of one week ago:
January 8, 2015
We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a 1,000 lashes, in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.”
Yet, despite this and others joining in, it is happening. Raif Badawi received the first 50 lashes last Friday. Watch the crowd gathering, the video stops there, (thank you!): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ISRaSduJNOI
It will continue if hearts remain merciless. Every Friday he will be taken out of prison, displayed in public, receiving 50 more lashes. The American PEN organization decries it ( http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/saudi-arabia-editor-raef-badawi-sentenced-to-1000-lashes-and-10-years-in-prison-plus-10-year-media-participation-ban/ ). It will bring his body to his limits, every Friday for the next twenty weeks. He may die.
And you know what?: On occasion of millions joining into last week’s demonstrations against the killing of fifteen journalists of Charlie Hebdo, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the row of dignitaries, excellencies, and ordinary people, expressing their sadness and outrage. Exercising their right to be free expressing their opinions, journalists had been brutally killed by extremists who felt this is an insult of Islam. ( http://www.jewishjournal.com/hella_tel_aviv/item/the_10_biggest_hypocrites_marching_in_paris ).
So what is this about? Is it that you can say what ever you want as long as it is not against us?
I join the statement by the European Union ( http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2014/150109_03_en.htm ).
Je suis Charlie. Je suis Raif. Et j’adore Senator Feinstein.
More links below.
To me, the most heartening one: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6125244