Saudi Arabia: Arrest and release of human rights defender Samar Badawi

January 13, 2016

 

US First Lady Michelle Obama (left) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) pose with Samar Badawi (centre) as she receives the 2012 International Women of Courage Award

Having just posted a lot about China, I would be amiss not to report the action by another serial offender, Saoudi Arabia:  Samar Badawi, an internationally known human rights defender was arrested by Saudi Arabia police on Tuesday, 12 January 2016, according to a report by Amnesty International. Later on she was transferred to Dhaban prison. And just now (13 January) Human Rights Watch reports that after questioning she has been released from Saudi custody.[http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sister-jailed-saudi-blogger-raif-badawi-released-rights-group-1434471164#sthash.ThiFt7xz.dpuf]

In 2012, she was given an International Women of Courage Award. In December 2014, a Saudi Arabian judge imposed a travel ban on Samar. “Samar Badawi’s arrest today is yet another alarming setback for human rights in Saudi Arabia and demonstrates the extreme lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silent submission,” said Philip Luther, AI’S Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Just weeks after Saudi Arabia shocked the world by executing 47 people in a single day, including the Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, it has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for human rights. Samar Badawi has been arrested purely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression, she must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

According to AFP, Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada as a refugee said in her Twitter account that her sister-in-law was arrested on the charge of directing a Twitter account named “the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia @WaleedAbulkhair.

Samar is the sister of Raif Badawi, a well-known blogger who was awarded the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/saudi-blogger-raif-badawi-awarded-europes-sakharov-prize/). Moreover, Waleed Abulkhair, who is Samar’s ex-husband, is also serving a 15-year jail sentence.

 

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