Pirate Activist Receives a Flogging in Trafalgar Square
For the first time since 1830, a man has been flogged in Trafalgar Square. Ray Johansen from Pirate Party Norway received 50 lashes in the center of London. The beating was carried out as a solidarity action for the sentence Raif Badawi received in Saudi Arabia.
In 2012 Raif Badawi was arrested for charges of insulting Islam and later also accused of apostasy. In 2014 Saudi Arabia re-sentenced Raif to 1000 lashes, 10 years in jail and a fine of 1 million riyals.
“The charges against him, based solely to Badawi’s involvement in setting up a website for peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures, violate his right to freedom of expression” (Human Rights Watch).
The flogging of Raif is executed with a cane, which many countries around the world consider a method of torture. Beating someone with a thin switch will cause welts to erupt, further hits will cause the welts to become a bloody, irreparable mass. On January 9, Raif Badawi received the first of his weekly 50 lashes; since then he has been determined to be physically incapable of receiving more lashes, which has caused the remaining 950 lashes to be delayed.
The solidarity action by Raymond Johansen was executed with the same type of cane, leaving bloody lashes and lumps of flesh requiring many days of recovery. For Raymond the beating brought back painful memories of when he himself had been tortured. In 2001, he was “kidnapped by masked men who must have thought that he was a police agent. He was attached to a wall with a belt around his neck and handcuffed—before he was beaten with a weapon and tortured for over eight hours” (translated from a Norwegian newspaper)
The action from Raymond was in cooperation with Amnesty, the Backlash Group and the family of Raif Badawi (represented by his wife Ensaf Haidar). Raymond put himself through the flogging to bring more attention to the #backlash and #FreeRaif campaigns. He describes himself as a defender of free speech, and in London he literally took a beating for another person’s right to speak freely.
When Pirate Times asked what motivates Raymond to defend other people’s freedom of speech he said:
It is simply the fact that our collective voices matter more than anything else in this world. It is the only thing that stands between us and a new kind of tyranny. That world will be run by corporations with only the bottom line as motivation – not the peoples welfare. If we cannot enforce transparency and have our voices be heard, we might as well lay down and submit to evil.
Images: Featured image is a screenshot from the video by Anon UK Radio, the last image is used by courtesy of Raymond