|Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.|
I've been very frustrated with our government's apparent blindness to the monstrous human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps they will not be able to ignore the problem now.I most recently expressed this frustration and pessimism in a previous post about how CFI Canada and Humanist Canada met with Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) ambassador Andrew Bennett in December.
However, I cannot help but remain skeptical and disappointed in the Office. It still seems to me like they're hardly even trying. When it comes to people (not philosophies) being in peril for their lack of religious belief across this globe, it really seems to be that groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Atheist Alliance International, International Humanist and Ethical Union and the Center For Inquiry are superior human rights watchdogs and are more effective at engaging people over social media.
Well, it looks like they've finally done something they've never done before! They're finally denouncing Saudi Arabia's treatment of Raif!
Canada Denounces Flogging of Saudi Activist
January 8, 2015 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:
“I am greatly concerned by reports that Saudi human rights activist Raif Badawi will tomorrow begin facing a punishment of 1,000 lashes, along with a 10-year prison sentence, for exercising his right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
“The public flogging outside a mosque in Jeddah each week for 20 weeks, with 50 lashes administered on each occasion, is a gross violation of human dignity, which I strongly denounce.
“Canada strongly upholds the fundamental freedoms of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association, among other inalienable human rights, as a basis on which society is established, thrives and progresses.
“The punishment being administered to Mr. Badawi is inhumane and is unbecoming of a society which seeks to advance itself within the family of nations. Such advancement must be predicated on respect for freedom of religion and other fundamental human rights. May clemency and mercy be shown in this case.”
It seems like multiple human rights groups have had to climb mountains to get to this point. This part is unfortunate, but Andrew Bennett has gone a ways to redeem himself in my eyes. It's literally the last minute, but I suppose there could have been other efforts going on behind the scenes and now they're going public because those have gone nowhere -- well, I'd like to believe that at least.
GREAT work, Mr. Bennett!
If you would like to speak up for Badawi, I would strongly recommend you call the Saudi embassy of your country directly. Here are instructions about how to do this here in Canada (bottom).
You should also consult the Amnesty International page on Badawi for more information about how to help!
- Thanks to Canadian Atheist's Veronica Abbass for bringing this to my attention.