GENEVA, March 24, 2019 — The family of prominent political prisoner Raif Badawi will put Saudi Arabia in the hot seat at a shadow human rights summit that will take place at the United Nations on Monday, March 25, 2019.

Ensaf Haidar, the wife of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and their three children Najwa, Terad, and Miriyam, will turn an international spotlight on the Saudi regime’s human rights abuses at the 11th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, which opens on Monday, March 25 at 1:30pm at the United Nations Euopean headquarters in Geneva, seat of the UN Human Rights Council.

When Haidar takes the floor at the UN tomorrow, Badawi will have been in prison for 6 years, 9 months, and 8 days. After his arrest in 2012, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up an online platform for political and religious debate. 

This will be the first time that the family appears together at the UN. 

Their appeal comes after Saudi Arabia was just given a free pass at the UN Human Rights Council during its annual March session. While EU member states and 8 other countries made a joint statement criticizing Saudi Arabia for its crackdown on freedom of expression, the meeting ended without a single resolution being adopted on the fundamentalist regime, which is a long-time member of the 47-nation body.

“Ensaf Haidar and the Badawi children are tireless advocates for Badawi’s release,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch, a co-organizer of the conference together with Liberal International, Human Rights Foundation, and more than 20 other human rights groups.

“Their emotional testimonies ought to stir the conscience of the UN, and the world, to address the plight of this innocent father and husband in prison, and of the critical human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, after the Human Rights Council failed to take action against one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights,” he said.

As the Geneva Summit continues on Tuesday, students from the International School of Geneva will run a letter writing campaign for the Summit’s estimated 800 attendees to appeal to the Saudi authorities to release Badawi.

Haidar and her three children will join other courageous champions of human rights from around the world at this year’s Geneva Summit, including dissidents, activists, victims, and relatives of political prisoners from Iran, Cuba, Tibet, Nicaragua, Burundi, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries.

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, arbitrary detention, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

One exhibit at the summit will showcase paintings of assassinated and imprisoned journalists, and another will display the faces of current human rights dissidents who are being held as political prisoners.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at

Admission to this year’s March 26th summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program, and schedule information, visit The conference will also be available via live webcast.

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