“I am very happy to hear this,” said Ensaf Haidar, Badawi’s wife, now based in Canada, who will be accepting the award by video when it is presented next week in a ceremony before UN delegates, human rights activists and journalists, on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015, at the 7th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. (See list of speakers below.)
The NGO coalition is honoring Badawi “for inspiring the world with his extraordinary courage in the defense of liberty and universal human rights.”
The conference will feature top-name activists, former political prisoners and victims from China, Russia, Iran, and many other human rights hotspots, who will seek to influence foreign ministers gathering across the street days later to open the annual session of the UN Human Rights Council.
On January 9, Badawi received the first 50 lashes, and was due to receive the remainder over 19 weeks. Following international outrage, he has been spared each Friday since then, but remains in prison. Prince Charles raised Badawi’s plight with the Saudi king last week.
Saudi Arabia is member of UNHRC, has never been scrutinized
Bringing the story of Saudi Arabia’s brutal flogging of a human rights activist to the doorstep of the UNHRC is particularly important given Saudi Arabia’s ill-advised membership on the 47-nation council.
Badawi’s arrest and sentencing came on the heels of a clampdown across the kingdom against any dissent. His crime was the creation of a blog called “Free Saudi Liberals,” which encourages free discussion about Islam and its role in the country.
There has never been a UNHRC resolution on the situation of human rights Saudi Arabia, despite having one of the world’s worst records on freedom of religion and other fundamental rights. Instead, Saudi Arabia holds a seat of power and influence as an elected member of the UNHRC.
Liberal International Hails Prize
“As co-hosts of the Geneva Summit, Liberal International is pleased to join forces with UN Watch and 18 other NGOs, to continue to fight for Raif Badawi’s liberation,” said Markus Loening, chair of Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee, and former human rights commissioner of the German government.
“Raif Badawi displayed enormous personal courage in his fight for the most fundamental liberal value: freedom of speech. This he has done under the most perilous of conditions."
“He should be assured that he is not alone in his struggle against suppression of basic liberties in Saudi Arabia and I hope that this award will be recognized as a symbol of the importance of tolerance in any society. For oppression to thrive, critical voices need only remain silent.