Flogging of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia ‘vicious act of cruelty’
A witness confirmed to Amnesty International that the flogging of Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi took place this morning after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.
“The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“By ignoring international calls to cancel the flogging Saudi Arabia’s authorities have demonstrated an abhorrent disregard for the most basic human rights principles.”
An eyewitness to the flogging described to Amnesty International how Raif Badawi was removed from a bus in shackles and brought to the public square in front of the mosque in the middle of a crowd.
“A crowd gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew. But no one knew why Raif was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray?” the witness said.
“A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him. Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain. The officer beat Raif on his back and legs, counting the lashes until they reached 50.”
“Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience; his only ‘crime’ was to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for public discussion. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Said Boumedouha
Raif Badawi had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam.
The full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.
“It is appalling that 19 weeks of flogging await Raif Badawi over the coming months. Saudi Arabia’s authorities must act immediately to halt all further floggings,” said Said Boumedouha.
The canes are metal filled and very heavy so what looks like a less than full swing packs just as much pain as a wooden cane swung with maximum effort. Those who’ve had this treatment say the pain builds up and up. I would never travel to a Middle eastern country, or use their airlines. Their treatment of foreigners is appalling, let alone their abysmal cruelty to each other.
RELATED VIDEO CLIP (does not work on here, but can be seen by clicking through)
The following 40-second video clip was filmed surreptitiously on a mobile telephone.
A man is seen being whipped in public. It is not absolutely certain that this is official JCP ordered by a court. It all looks decidedly informal and ad hoc and arbitrary, but then the whole Saudi system is very ad hoc and arbitrary. At all events, this punishment is being inflicted by officials in uniform, who are presumably police or judicial officers of some sort.
The prisoner in this case is allegedly a sex offender, though there is no way of verifying that. He is being held up (somewhat incompetently) against the back of a police van and punished with what is either a somewhat rigid whip or an extremely flexible long cane. We see roughly 50 lashes, though nobody appears to be counting. It is the extreme rapidity of the strokes — about four per second — which is perhaps most surprising, and which makes this seem quite a different kind of thing from the formal and ceremonial manner in which JCP has typically been conducted in the British world (Malaysia, Pakistan, etc.), where a very specific number of strokes is delivered slowly and carefully.
The caning, if so it can be described, is targeted very approximately at the culprit’s buttocks, but its administration is so hasty and slapdash that some of the strokes appear to fall on the small of his back. As one would expect when there are so many of them, the strokes are not particularly hard. And, as is common in the Arab world, the prisoner keeps all his clothes on. Nevertheless, surprisingly soon he is heard moaning and shouting.
It can be seen clearly that the official administering this whipping does not have a book under his arm (see commentary above).