January 9th, 2015

NDP calls for the release of Saudi free speech activist

Official Opposition Critic for Human Rights Wayne Marston (Hamilton - Stoney Creek) issued the following statement today:

"New Democrats are appalled that imprisoned Saudi Arabian free speech activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public today as part of his sentence.

Raif Badawi has been imprisoned since June 2012 for founding a website to promote political and social debate in Saudi Arabia. He was charged with “setting up a website that undermines public security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures.

Amnesty International reported numerous irregularities in his trial. Mr. Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a significant fine.

Last May I wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, asking him to intervene with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to secure Mr. Badawi’s release. While I have yet to receive a reply from Mr. Baird’s office, I reiterate that call to intervene today and urge him to call for Mr. Badawi’s immediate release before this awful sentence is carried out.

Mr. Badawi’s wife and children currently reside in Canada.‎ ‎Every effort should be made to free him so he can rejoin them, rather than suffer this horrific punishment for exercising freedom of speech."