Posts Tagged ‘Waleed Abulkhair’

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie accepts PEN Pinter prize: wants to speak out

October 16, 2018

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie accepts PEN Pinter prize with call to speak out. Arguing that authors have a duty to ‘call a lie a lie’, the Nigerian novelist also names human rights activist Waleed Abulkhair as the 2018 International Writer of Courage.  in the Guardian of 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pictured at the Women in the World Summit in 2017.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pictured at the Women in the World Summit in 2017. Photograph: Matteo Prandoni/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock

The Nigerian novelist was described by the Jury as “sophisticated beyond measure in her understanding of gender, race, and global inequality”. In her acceptance lecture at the British Library, Adichie said that while writers should not necessarily speak out on political issues, she did not believe “that art is a valid reason for evading the responsibilities of citizenship – which are to think clearly, to remain informed, and, sometimes, to act and speak”.

…The award-winning novelist revealed how she has been criticised in Nigeria for speaking out about its law criminalising homosexuality, and for her efforts to start a “much-needed conversation” about women’s rights in the country….

Adichie said that she did not choose to speak out about social issues because she is a writer. “But my writing gave me a platform to speak about issues that I have always cared about,” she said. “I do not want to use my art as an armour of neutrality behind which to hide. I am a writer and I am a citizen, and I see my speaking out on social issues as a responsibility of citizenship. I am struck by how often this speaking out is met, in Nigeria, not with genuine engagement, whether to agree or disagree, but with a desire to silence me. A journalist once helpfully summed it up for me: people don’t like it when you talk about feminism, they just want you to shut up and write.”

At the ceremony, Adichie named the lawyer and human rights activist Waleed Abulkhair as this year’s International Writer of Courage, a title awarded by the PEN Pinter winner each year. Abulkhair, a founding member of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia .

Waleed Abulkhair pictured in 2012.
Pinterest Waleed Abulkhair pictured in 2012. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Waleed has dedicated his life to holding the Saudi authorities accountable for human rights abuses,” said Adichie. “He has dedicated his life to speaking out, to supporting the victims of those abuses. Waleed, like Harold Pinter, has shown a lucid dedication to telling his truth. But rather than being lauded for this dedication, Waleed has paid a heavy price – 15 years behind bars.” She said she was deeply proud to share the prize with Abulkhair, “and I hope that this small act of solidarity will bring him some comfort, and will remind him that his struggle has not been forgotten, nor will it be in vain.”

Previous recipients of the International writer of courage include Bangladeshi publisher and writer Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, also known as Tutul; and Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/09/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-accepts-pen-pinter-prize-with-call-to-speak-out

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.