Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Raif Badawi, defending the right to self-expression & brutality of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Humanists believe in the human right of self-expression. Hence as I Humanist I deplore the treatment by Saudi Arabia of Raif Badawi.

The National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International are co-hosting a protest in solidarity with Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a website championing free speech and facilitating public discussion. His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is himself in prison, serving a 15-year sentence for his peaceful activism. Raif’s family, his wife and two children are exiled in Canada and the website has been shut down.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaughter of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris we have witnessed a global outcry in defence of free speech. Millions marched in Paris and throughout France including the Saudi Ambassador to France – however the same freedoms are not extended to Raif Badawi. The treatment of Raif Badawi and the hypocrisy of the Saudi regime cannot be left unchallenged. Already international pressure has resulted in Badawi’s case being referred to the Supreme Court. However much more needs to be done.

The protest takes place this Thursday 22 January at 6.00 p.m. outside the Saudi Embassy on Fitzwilliam Square. Support Raif Badawi, lend your voice to global solidarity and defend freedom of speech.

‘Punk prayer’ & Putin’s repression of free speech

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

The continued imprisonment of the feminist Russian girl punk band Pussy Riot is an outrageous repression of free speech by Moscow’s Putin regime. The punk trio – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23), Yekaterina Samutsevich (19) and Maria Alyokhina (24) – have been detained since March 2012 following a noisy but peaceful protest in an Orthodox church last February 2012 at which three masked people  sang a ‘punk prayer’ calling for the overthrow of Putin and mocking the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Last Friday their detention was extended for a further six months. If convicted, they could face up  to seven years’ imprisonment. The London Times rightly last Saturday, 21 July, 2012, ran an editorial on this unconscionable attack on free speech, seeing it as a test case for freedom of speech under Putin’s regime. No less chilling than their imprisonment for musical political protest is the report that a Russian Orthodox Patriarch has accused the singers of ‘blasphemy’, that hairy old chestnut of those who believe in ridiculous things wanting their daft beliefs protected rather than being exposed for what they are: abject nonsense.

Amnesty International have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the trio. Amnesty have pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled that freedom of expression applies not only to inoffensive ideas, “but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”,  even if the action was calculated to shock and was known to be likely to cause offence. Amnesty adds that ‘the activists left the cathedral when requested to do so and caused no damage. The entire incident lasted only a few minutes and caused only minimal disruption to those using the cathedral.’

Putin: release these women now. Tear down the new walls you are erecting of  fear, imprisonment and silencing freedom of expression. History shows where that leads. Be brave and release those who criticize you. As for the Patriarch: your life is based on a lie: Jesus did not rise from the dead. Grow up and leave aside your silly religious beliefs.