Sunday, June 14, 2015

Indian Citizens Appeal for the Release of Raif Badawi, a Saudi Blogger

India: Citizens Appeal for the Release of Raif Badawi, a Saudi Blogger
See the letter of acknowledgement received from Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar below, after the signatures

People’s Alliance for Secularism and Democracy
Date: 10 June 2015
To: The Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia at New Delhi,
2- Pachchimi Marg, VasantVihar,
New Delhi-110057
Fax: 00911126144244


Dear Sir,
This is an appeal regarding Raif Badawi, a blogger and Saudi citizen, founder of the website ‘Free Saudi Liberals’. Mr Badawi has been under arrest since 2012 for insulting Islam and apostasy. He was sentenced to be punished with 10 years in prison along with 1000 lashes (50 lashes to be received on every Friday) and a fine of one million riyals. Though he was cleared of charges of apostasy in 2013, there are new reports that indicate he may be tried again under the same charge.

We are mindful that India and Saudi Arabia have long-standing friendly political and commercial relations and that large numbers of Indians live and work in your country. It is because of this that we feel constrained to convey to you our concerns. Raif Badawi is a public intellectual who communicated his thoughts to the public through a blog. We do not believe that any of its contents constituted a threat to the state. To the contrary, his advocacy for secularism and the separation of religion and state is a suggestion that would strengthen it.

Whether or not his ideas are pleasing to your government, the fact remains that as a member state of the United Nations, Saudi Arabia is presumed to be respectful of the freedom of speech that is provided for under Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. This article states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers‘.

The sharing of information and ideas is a basic human practice and natural right that should be available to everyone regardless of their nationality or identity and (barring extremist incitement) should not be restricted by law. The state should protect and promote our rights instead of restricting them.

It has been reported that Raif Badawi received the first set of lashes on 9 January, after Friday prayers outside the Al-Juffali Mosque in Jeddah. The next round of punishment has been suspended on medical grounds to give his wounds time to heal prior to wounding him again. We consider this an example of barbaric cruelty, not befitting any member state of the UNO. Such practices are a travesty of justice and will bring you only disrepute.

We are Indian citizens who speak for human rights both within our own country and beyond. We are in solidarity with Raif Badawi and all those demanding freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia. We condemn the inhuman punishment being meted out to him as we condemn all measures that punish people for defending human rights and sharing their thoughts.

We ask that Saudi Arabia:
  • Immediately suspend the punishment of Raif Badawi,
  • Release Raif Badawi and provide him security,
  • Take measures towards the provision of full freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia
Submitted by:
Ravi Nitesh, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism
Dipak Dholakia
Rajashri Dasgupta
Prithvi R Sharma
Rana P Behal
Shamsul Islam
Suman Keshari
Aseem Shrivastava
Viren Lobo
Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
Kashif Ahmed Faraz
R. Sasankan, Journalist, Delhi
Rohit Sharma, Pilani, India
Mandeep Singh from Revolutionary Youth Student Front
Firoz Ahmad, Public School Teacher
Chaman Lal
Devika Mittal (Mission Bhartiyam)
Sudha Vasan
Dheeraj Gaba
Nawed Akhter
Dilip Simeon
Shabnam Hashmi
Rohini Hensman
Ovais Sultan Khan
Ram Puniyani
Vinerjeet Kaur
Kiran Shaheen
Battini Rao, Convener, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
Javed Anand
Harsh Kapoor
Subash Mohapatra, Global Human Rights Communications, Bhubaneswar
Sagar Rabari, Ahmedabad
Shailendra Dhar, Journalist
Nihal Parashar
Linus Ayangwoh Embe
Peter Marshall
Sudarshan juyal
Dhruv Singhal (Political Science student)
Mohammad Imran, NRISAHI
Suresh Bhat
Prof. S Ratnagar, Mumbai
Ilma iqbal
Michael Karadjis
Vasantharajan, Research Scholar
Rabin Chakraborty
Shruti Arora
Hiren Gandhi
Anand Patwardhan
Dr. D. Gabriele
Mukul Mangalik
Neeraj Malik, academic
Suhas Borker
Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai
Kasim Sait
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
Kaveri Rajaraman, University of Hyderabad
Parth Sarthu
Mahesh Elkunchwar
Suman Kumar
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Syed Ghazanfar Abbas
Jawad Mohammed
Prof Anil Sadgopal, Shiksha Adhikar Manch, Bhopal 
Satya Pal, Secretary General - South Asian Fraternity
Those wishing to endorse the above appeal and add their names should use this form: 
see the original PDF version on PADS headed note paper

Letter of acknowledgement received from Raif Badawi's wife

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ensaf Haidar
Date: Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 11:51 PM
Subject: Hello From Raif Badawi wife's!

Hello Dear Mr. Battini,
Really i want thanks you for helping and supporting my husband Raif Badawi, I am very happy to see Raif support in India! please tell my thanks and regards to all who signed this letter.

Also i heard that some people want start vigil for Raif’s front of Saudi embassy in New Delhi!

Best Regards From Canada.

Ensaf Haidar