Canada is “very alarmed” by the arrest of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s sister by Saudi authorities, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted Thursday.
Amnesty International reported that Samar Badawi, a prominent women’s right activist, was detained earlier this week along with Nassima al-Sada, another prominent activist.
“Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi,” Freeland tweeted.
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) 2 August 2018
Amnesty International said the two detained women have been repeatedly targeted, harassed, and placed under travel bans for their human rights activism.
“This unprecedented level of persecution of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia is a disturbing sign that the crackdown is far from over,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.
“These brave women represented the last vestiges of the human rights community in the country, and now they too have been detained.”
Saudi Arabia’s new leadership under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has crushed any space for the existence of human rights defenders in the country, Maalouf said.
She called on the international community to push Saudi Arabian authorities to end its “draconian crackdown and targeted repression of human rights activists in the country.”
Finding refuge in Canada
Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, has lived in Quebec with the couple’s three children since 2013. They became Canadian citizens earlier this summer. They live in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
Badawi has been in a Saudi jail since 2012 for his criticism of the regime.
In 2013, Badawi was convicted of insulting Islam and breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws with his liberal blog and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.
He was re-sentenced to 1,000 lashes, ten years in prison and fined nearly $300,000 in 2014.
The first set of 50 lashes was administered in January of 2015. The second set has been postponed more than twelve times due to Badawi’s fragile health.