Dear Amnesty: Stop Crying Wolf

Is the human rights organization’s fundraising placing lives in danger? An article by Mark Aldrich and Raymond Johansen

* * * *
“They aren’t your money train. They are human beings.” Raymond Johansen, an activist and Anon who has been fighting for freedom for human rights prisoners around the world for years, has spent the last two weeks trying to protect three young prisoners in Saudi Arabia from Amnesty International’s clumsy embrace.

Two weeks ago, this headline appeared on Amnesty International’s website and its many Facebook and Twitter accounts: “Families Fear Their Sons Will Be Executed Within 24 Hours.” The three sons in question—Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher—are also featured on Reprieve’s “Urgent” death penalty cases page. Interviews with Ali al-Nimr’s family will be featured in a PBS Frontline documentary, “Saudi Arabia Uncovered,” that will be broadcast on March 29.

Indeed, the three officially remain on death row in Saudi Arabia, so their lives are in the hands of that nation’s judiciary. The world is watching. However, in October 2015, that nation assured Phillip Hammond, the British Foreign Minister, that Ali will not be executed, and Mr. Hammond did the unprecedented and announced this in bold and clear language: “I do not expect Mr al-Nimr to be executed.”

Might Saudi Arabia renege on this promise? It might. Had Amnesty International, Reprieve, or the families of the three youths learned something new two weeks ago? They had not. And yet that phrase, “Families fear their sons will be executed within 24 hours,” has propagated on Twitter and Facebook, usually with a link to an Amnesty action page (signature and donations welcome).
Read More

#RaifBadawi Remains a Prisoner

For the eighth week in a row, Saudi writer, blogger, and activist Raif Badawi was not publicly flogged fifty times today for insulting his home country’s state religion. His official Twitter account broke the news as soon as it was confirmed:

No one is breathing a sigh of relief that this counts as sparing him, or that he is about to be freed. The 31-year-old husband and father has now spent 1000 days and two weeks in jail with little to no contact with the outside world. According to news reports, there was no reason given by Saudi officials for the delay.

Worse, his family is reporting that Raif may be about to face a re-trial on the charge of apostasy (renouncing one’s religion). If found guilty, he is to be publicly executed. Beheaded. He has been found innocent of this charge in the past, which is how and why weekly updates about his punishment for insulting his religion can even be written. Elham Manea, a passionate writer about human rights abuses, released a statement on behalf of his family:

Amnesty International’s press office also reported today that it has been denied access to Raif Badawi:

Read More

1000 Days

For the sixth week in a row, Saudi writer, blogger, and activist Raif Badawi was not publicly flogged today for insulting his home country’s state religion. Amnesty International broke the news as soon as the organization could confirm it:

No one is breathing a sigh of relief that this counts as sparing him, or that he is about to be freed. The 31-year-old husband and father has now spent 1000 days in jail with little to no contact with the outside world. According to news reports, there was no reason given by Saudi officials for the delay.
Read More

#FreeRaif, Week 5

For the fourth week in a row, Raif Badawi, a writer in Saudi Arabia, was not whipped fifty times yesterday as part of his public punishment for insulting his nation’s official religion in his blog. No one is breathing a sigh of relief that this counts as sparing him, or that he is about to be freed.

Amnesty International broke the news this morning via Twitter:

Read More