Letter to David Cameron on Raif Badawi

On the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment, we call on the UK government to do more to secure Raif Badawi’s release.

June 17, 2016

Dear Rt. Hon. David Cameron,

In the last four years, the people of Scotland voted to remain in the union, you and your party have moved from a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats to a majority government, and the scene is set for a referendum on our relationship with Europe. In that same time, Raif Badawi has remained in prison, with the consistent and brutal threat of more lashes hanging overhead. His crime? Blogging.

Charged with insulting Islam through electronic channels and brought to court on several charges including apostasy, Raif has become a symbol of both the threat to free expression and the extent to which Saudi Arabia attacks those brave enough to speak out.

On this anniversary we come together to say that this cannot stand, his imprisonment and brutal punishment represents the limits of our commitment to free expression.

We call on the UK government to do more to secure Raif’s release. Any reluctance or resistance on our part undermines our commitment to fundamental freedoms that should form the foundation to any and all of our relationships with key partners across the globe.

Freedom of expression is a barometer of the health of the society; Saudi Arabia’s treatment of Raif and the countless others is a stark indictment of the commonplace repression that challenges any commitment to civil liberties that Saudi Arabia may profess to have. Commitments are not enough; they need to be represented by positive action.

Four years is too long a time to spend in prison, a day is too long when the crime amounts to free expression, but we must ensure that this anniversary is the last Raif Badawi spends behind bars.

We hope you join with us in calling for his immediate release, striking a blow for free expression that would be heard across the globe.

Kind regards,

Abraham T. Zere, PEN Eritrea

Alejandro SÁnchez-Aizcorbe, Peruvian PEN Centre

Ann MacKinnon

Anna Crockatt

Anne Clarke, Scottish PEN

Anne Connolly

Antonio Della Rocca, President, PEN Trieste

Asieh Amini

Aysha Griffin, San Miguel de Allende PEN

Bernard Odendaal, PEN Afrikaans

Billy Kay

Brendan de Caires, PEN Canada

Carol Lopes

Carole Jones

Caroline Grebbell, Scottish PEN

Casimiro de Britgo, PEN International

Chik J Duncan

Chris Powici

Christine De Luca, Scottish PEN

Chrys Salt MBE, Scottish PEN

Claudia Daventry

Danie Marais, PEN Afrikaans

David Harrower

Pauline Desnuelles, PEN Club Suisse Romande

Diana Hendry, Scottish PEN

Dilys Rose

Dr Anna Milsom, Wales PEN Cymru

Dr Anne Lorne Gillies

Dr Mario Relich, Scottish PEN

Dylan Moore, Wales PEN Cymru

Elizabeth Rimmer

Heike Fielder, PEN International – Suisse Romande

Frank Mackay Anim-Appiah, Ghanian PEN Centre

Freya Klier, PEN

Gabrielle Alioth, PEN Centre for German-Speaking Writers Abroad

Gerry Loose, Scottish PEN

Gloria Guardia, Vice President, PEN International

Hans Poppel, PEN Centre for German-Speaking Writers Abroad

Heather MacLeod

Hege Newth Nouri, Norwegian PEN

Iain Maloney

Ian Crockatt

Ian Rankin, Scottish PEN

Iida Simes, Voima Magazine, Finland

Iman Humaydan, PEN Center Lebanon

Ingeborg Senneset, Norwegian PEN

Iseabail Macleod, Scottish PEN

Iva Gavanski, Norwegian PEN

Izak de Vries, PEN Afrikaans

James Kelman

James Robertson, Scottish PEN

Jasmine Donahaye, Wales PEN Cymru

Jay Griffiths

Jeni Williams, Wales PEN Cymru

Jenni Calder, Scottish PEN

Jim Aitken, Scottish PEN

Jo Clifford

Joan H Craig

Joan Lingard

John Aberdein

John Burnett

José Viale Moutinho

Judith Rodriguez, PEN International, Melbourne Centre

Julie Johnstone

Juliet Conlin

Karen Campbell, Scottish PEN

Karina Williamson

Kathrine Sowerby

Kay Goodall

Ken Cockburn

Lara Feigel

Leela Soma, Scottish PEN

Leslie Stevenson

Liesl Graz, PEN Centre Suisse Romande

Lin Anderson

Liz Niven, Scottish PEN

Loubna Freih, PEN Suisse

Lucina Kathmann, PEN International

Taizhi Lu, ICPC and PPdM

Magda Carneci, PEN Romania

Maggie Anderson, Scottish PEN

Magi Gibson

Mandy Haggith

Maoilios Caimbeul

Margo Beck, PEN International

Mark O. Goodwin

Martha P. Donnelly, PEN

Martin Bates

Mary Wight

Maryvelma Smith O’Neil, ARCH Jerusalem

Maureen Myant, Scottish PEN

Bruno-Karim Mercier, PEN Club Swiss Romand

Mille Rode, Secretary General, Danish PEN

Moira Forsyth

Nadja Klier

Neal Ascherson

Nicholas Kawinga, PEN Zambia

Nick Patricca, Chicago Network

Nilanja S. Roy, PEN Delhi

Owen Sheers, Wales PEN Cymru

Patricia Browne Hirschl, PEN

Patrick Dobbs

Per Øhrgaard. President, Danish PEN

Professor Philippe Sands QC

Rachna Sigh

Raffaella Salierno, Pen Catalá

Rebecca John, Wales PEN Cymru

Regi Claire, Scottish PEN

Ricky Monahan Brown

Rishi Majumder

Ropo Ewenla, PEN Nigeria Centre

Rose Ritchie

Sally Baker, Wales PEN Cymru

Sascha Feuchert, PEN Germany

Sharon Steeber, PEN International in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Xue Sheng, ICPC

Sirpa Kähkönen, PEN Finland

Sjón, Icelandic PEN

Stefanie Gollisch, PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad

Stewart McDonald, MP

Sue Reid Sexton, Scottish PEN

Susan Page, PEN San Miguel de Allende

Sytske Sötemann, PEN The Netherlands

Tasja Dorkofikis, English PEN

Teresa Salema Cadete, President, Portuguese PEN Centre

Thomas FitzPatrick, Scottish PEN

Tom Bullough, Wales PEN Cymru

Una Leonie Flett, Scottish PEN

Vida Ognjenovi’, Serbian PEN Centre


TAGS: 1000 lashes anniversary blogger David Cameron four years imprisoned writer letter PEN International prison Raif Badawi saudi arabia Scottish PEN