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Amnesty International launches a campaign today to mark the three year anniversary of the public flogging of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. He received the first 50 out of 1000 lashes on 9 January 2015 for setting up a website focused on social and political debate.

In the wake of his flogging, which provoked an international outcry, Amnesty International supporters around the world rose up, driving global condemnation of the authorities and demanding the unconditional release of Raif Badawi and all other prisoners of conscience. He has not been flogged again, but is still in prison serving a 10 year sentence. 

“If the Saudi Arabian authorities are truly intent on pushing through reforms and positive changes, they should immediately release Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience being held simply for airing their opinions freely,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

“We refuse to let Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record go unnoticed. The crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression continues unabated as the authorities continue to detain and put human rights defenders on trial on charges related to their peaceful activism. 

Last week, UN Experts called on the release of all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights in Saudi Arabia, including members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), in what they called a “worrying pattern of widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detention”.

As part of the campaign, Amnesty International supporters are gathering in front of Saudi Arabian embassies in multiple cities around the world. They will also use social media to pressure the Saudi Arabian authorities, as well as their own governments, to take action and secure the immediate and unconditional release of Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia.