Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up an online platform for open debate, addresses the 8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.

On Raif Badawi’s case: 

“It has been three years since my husband, Raif Badawi, was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. And more than four years since my children were separated and deprived of their father.”

“Raif is in prison because he wanted to open the door to free and public debate.”

On the importance of international support:

“Let me assure you that the international campaign to free Raif Badawi, which started in the last few years, with all its campaigns, protests, petitions, letters, public support from many politicians, all of this has helped to keep the hope alive. A hope which is not only for Raif, me and my children,  but for all the activists in Saudi Arabia”.

“Your solidarity feeds our hunger for justice.”

Full Remarks

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

It has been three years since my husband, Raif Badawi, was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. And more than four years since my children were separated and deprived of their father.

What did Raif Badawi do?

In 2006, Raif Badawi established a website called the Saudi liberals, which aimed to open a public discussion about the very concepts of freedom, liberalism, and the forced religious interpretations in the country and the possibility to replace these interpretations with ideas from the enlightenment.

What did Raif Badawi do?

He criticized the violations of the religious police, and alerted everyone to the danger of extremism, the cancer which has destroyed our communities and the minds of our youth, made us hate ourselves, and to hate the human being with his many different colors!

And that’s why Raif is in jail today, away from his children, away from me.

Raif is in prison because he wanted to open the door to free and public debate. 10 years in jail, 1000 lashes. It’s the punishment he received because he wanted to discuss social, political and religious issues with Saudi women and men.

We also want to, through this Summit, open the way for a free discussion about human rights, I appreciate what you do very very much! For taking the time to allow me speak about Raif Badawi. This expresses your rejection to the injustice against my husband and our family. And at the same time you show your support to the unconditional human right of the freedom of expression.

Let me assure you, that the international campaign to free Raif Badawi, which started in the last few years, with all its campaigns, protests, petitions, letters, public support from many politicians, all of this has helped to keep the hope alive. A hope which is not only for Raif, me and my children,  but for all the activists in Saudi Arabia who are in prison because they have expressed themselves peacefully and freely.

Thank you so much for your support. Please continue. Don’t stop. Because your solidarity feeds our hunger for justice.

Speakers and Participants

Ensaf Haidar

Human rights activist and wife of Saudi political prisoner Raif Badawi

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