Fight to free Raif Badawi goes on, five years after his imprisonment

Fight to free Raif Badawi goes on, five years after his imprisonment

Ensaf Haidar, wife of blogger Raif Badawi, takes part in a rally for his freedom in Montreal on January 13, 2015. Raif Badawi’s supporters say they haven’t given up the fight to free him as they mark the five-year anniversary of his imprisonment. Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his criticism of Saudi clerics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.

MONTREAL — Raif Badawi’s supporters say they haven’t given up the fight to free him as they mark the five-year anniversary of his imprisonment.

Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his criticism of Saudi clerics.

His imprisonment has drawn widespread international condemnation and Amnesty International has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of not doing enough to free him.

Badawi is not a Canadian citizen but his wife and three children live in Sherbrooke, Que.

Earlier in this month, Badawi’s children appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a video message, asking him to personally call Saudi Arabian authorities to ask for their father to be freed.

Badawi’s spouse, Ensaf Haidar, has met with leaders in Canada and around the world while campaigning for his release.

More than 200 rallies to protest Badawi’s imprisonment have been held in Quebec alone, including several this week.

Earlier this week, a Parti Quebecois legislature member urged Premier Philippe Couillard’s administration to pressure the federal government, saying Trudeau campaigned on a promise to do everything he could to secure Badawi’s release.

Global Affairs Canada has said the government has raised Badawi’s case at the highest levels and continues to call for clemency.

But Amnesty International Canada says Ottawa has been far too passive when it comes to defending human rights.

“It’s not a simple subject, it’s not a subject that will be solved tomorrow, but the country is reaping what it has sowed in the past years by not demonstrating leadership on the international scene when it comes to human rights,” spokeswoman Anne Sainte-Marie told The Canadian Press.

After five years, Sainte-Marie said Badawi supporters are determined not to let his memory fade from public memory.

“We have to remember that Raif didn’t go anything,” she said. “All he did was call for reflection, dialogue and exchange on societal issues that are completely legitimate.”

The Canadian Press

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