Candle-lit #FreeRaif vigil comes amid fears the 31-year-old blogger will be flogged again on Friday despite international outcry
Amnesty International will hold a candle-lit protest vigil for the blogger and free speech activist Raif Badawi outside the Saudi Arabia Embassy in central London at 5pm tomorrow (Thursday 22 January).
Protesters holding large photographs of the activist with “#FreeRaif” slogans will line the street outside the embassy in London’s Mayfair area.
Mr Badawi, a 31-year-old father-of-three, is serving a ten-year jail sentence - as well as facing 1,000 lashes and a heavy fine - for offences related to his setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, an online forum for public debate, as well as accusations that he insulted Islam.
On 9 January Badawi was subjected to 50 lashes in a public square in the city of Jeddah, the first of 20 weekly batches of floggings the activist is due to receive. Last Friday the lashes were called off after a prison doctor reportedly examined Badawi and said his wounds from the first week’s flogging hadn’t healed sufficiently for him to be flogged again.
Badawi’s case is thought to be the subject of a current review by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court, but despite an international outcry Amnesty fears the blogger could be lashed again this Friday. Nearly three-quarters of a million people have supported an Amnesty campaign
calling for the Saudi authorities to call off the flogging and release Mr Badawi.
Meanwhile, Amnesty has been critical of the UK government for failing to speak out strongly about the case, with the organisation accusing UK ministers of “wearing the Saudi muzzle” in its muted response.
Amnesty protests are also planned in Edinburgh and Belfast, as well as in numerous countries around the world - including Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
Where: Saudi Arabia Embassy, Mayfair, London (note: protest will be at rear of embassy in Curzon Street, opposite Curzon Mayfair Cinema)
What: candle-lit protest vigil with Raif Badawi photographs and #FreeRaif banners
Who: Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director and approximately 100 fellow campaigners
When: 5-6pm, Thursday 22 January 2015
To film or photograph the event, or to arrange an interview with Kate Allen, please contact the Amnesty International UK media team (at the event: Neil Durkin, 07972 718826
, or Naomi Westland, 07932 995023