Ra’if Badawi, a prisoner of conscience, is on hunger strike for the sixth day in a row to protest against his worsening conditions of detention, especially his deprivation of medicine.
Badawi is a prominent human rights activist with kidney disease and his life is at risk, and has been detained since 2012.
Badawi’s wife, Insaf Haider, confirmed that her husband continued to strike against the background of ill-treatment by the prison director, pointing out that this is mainly the prevention of books and medicines and the withdrawal of the radio from him, despite allowing the radio four years ago.
Insaf Haider added that the prison administration has not yet responded to demands from Douri, who suffers from kidney pain, adding that she has no further details about her husband’s condition.
As for her information sources, Ms. Haidar said that “her husband called her from a public telephone from inside the prison and informed her of his intention to go on strike”.
Badawi, who founded a website called the Saudi Liberal Network, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cybercrime and the rights of his father, a criminal offense in Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors have demanded that he be tried for apostasy, punishable by death under Saudi law, but the judge dismissed the charge.
In another context, Ms. Insaf Haider said she was optimistic that her husband would be released soon. When asked about the data on which her optimism is based, she replied: “What Raef was demanding on his website we see it come true: women driving the car, limiting the authority of the CPVPV, the need for cinema and theater in Saudi Arabia, and the right of women to travel without guardian. ”
Ms. Haidar added that US Vice President Mike Pence’s demand for the Saudi authorities to release her husband gave her additional hope that he would soon see him.
More than a month ago, US Vice President Mike Pence sharply criticized Saudi Arabia for cracking down on religious freedoms and urged it to release jailed blogger Raef Badawi for criticizing Islam.
In a conference on religious freedom at the State Department, Pence also noted the detention of religious dissidents in Eritrea, Mauritania, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. All these four men have stood up hard to defend religious freedom despite unimaginable pressure and the American people stand with them, Pence said. The United States calls on the governments of Eritrea, Mauritania, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to respect the freedom of belief and release these men.
Addressing the Saudi authorities, Ms. Haidar said: “Seven years is enough; Raef is not a criminal; Raef is a free human being who defends his right as a human being. Raef has three children who have not seen or seen them for seven years. My children need their father.”
Raef was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison and a fine of one million riyals ($ 267,000) and 1,000 lashes after prosecutors appealed a lighter sentence of seven years and 600 lashes, which he considered a commutation. The public flogging of him in 2015 has drawn international criticism.