Amnesty put Belgian MPs into cages outside Saudi Embassy
Thursday, 09 January 2020
Credit: Amnesty International België
Amnesty International “caged” MPs and other personalities from the Belgian civil society in front of the Saudi Embassy in Brussels as part of a protest on Thursday.
The organisation for human rights demands the release of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, five years after the activist writer suffered his first flogging session.
Badawi, who created the website “Free Saudi Liberals” as a forum to freely discuss opinions, and the rights of women and of minorities, was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison, to a thousand lashes, and to a fine of one million Saudi riyals (about 230,000 euros) for insulting Islam. The blogger and his lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is also incarcerated, were placed in isolation on 11 December with reinforced security conditions, according to Amnesty information.
“Badawi is a dramatic example of what those who express an opinion that displeases the Saudi authoritiesrisk: unjust, cruel and inhuman punishment. By locking ourselves up in a cage, we demand the cancellation of the sentences and the release of Badawi, and all others who, having exercised their right to freedom of expression, suffer the fierce repression of the Saudi State,” said the Director of Amnesty International’s Belgian section Philippe Hensmans.
Like Hensmans, his Flemish colleague Wies De Graeve, as well as ULB Dean Yvon Englert, and Deputies Malik Ben Achour (PS), Samuel Cogolati (Ecolo), Georges Dallemagne (CDH, Humanist Christian Democrat), and Sophie Rohonyi (Défi) took turns in a narrow cage, equipped only with a simple chair, facing the Saudi Embassy in Brussels.
This Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the first 50 lashes administered to Badawi. The blogger was supposed to receive 50 more every Friday for 20 weeks. The following sessions, however, have not yet taken place, “first for medical reasons, then for reasons not disclosed,” said Amnesty.