Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Saudi King Praised on Freedom of Expression by (ex?) HRW, Flogging Badawi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 22, updated twice -- .With the death of Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud being eulogized by US President Barack Obama and, apparently from Davos, by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is striking how the issue of striking, or flogging, blogger Raif Badawi has simply disappeared.

  For diplomats, perhaps it's one thing. But on the evening of January 22, Al Jazeera English ran footage of a person they identified with Human Rights Watch praising the King as a reforming, including on freedom of expression.

  Here's the quote, memorialized online:

"'During King Abdullah's reign, he has inspired a greater openness in two particular areas: role of women and freedom of expression. And there is [an] outburst of criticism, social criticism and of government policy that happened in Saudi Arabia with the tolerance to some degree of the Saudi government,' Christoph Wilcke, former Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera."

  The quote was given earlier this year, but Al Jazeera rebroadcast it on the night of the King's death. As to being "formerly" with HRW, online Wilcke is still listed with them, here:

"Christoph Wilcke is senior researcher in Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division for Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. He joined the organization in 2005, and has more than 15 years of experience in the Middle East. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Wilcke worked with the International Crisis Group, the International Peace Academy (now Institute), and Save the Children UK. A native German, Wilcke obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in Modern Middle East Studies at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, in 2001."

 His Twitter account now lists him at Transparency International. To not speak ill of the dead, we're asking about this, what was said and who broadcast it.

Update of January 23, 5:30 am -- Human Rights Watch writes that the quote attributed to HRW about the King "is very old reflecting early days of the King's rule and sadly not at all our current assessment. We have an obituary out or soon out that reflects current view. Christoph has not worked for HRW in two years, was former researcher."

  We're happy to add the above, and link to any HRW obituary. The interview / quote was broadcast on Al Jazeera English on January 22, 2015 after being published online by Al Jazeera on January 5, 2015 ("Christoph Wilcke, former Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera"). Will those, and this, be corrected or amended?

Update of January 23, 7:38 am -- Human Rights Watch, noting that the Wilcke quote that Al Jazeera ran in 2015 was from 2010, has forwarded its obituary of the King. It's long (full version online here), but says in pertinent part:

"The government continues to control the appointment of newspaper editors and punish Saudis who criticize members of the royal family, government policies, or senior clerics. Under King Abdullah, Saudi authorities prosecuted human rights, civil society, and pro-reform activists for nothing more than exercising their right to freedom of expression. After 2011, Saudi courts began imposing prison sentences of over 10 years for speech-related crimes."

  How did a video clip from 2010 re-appear in 2015, without notation of when it was from? How many other such clips exist, and by whom? Finally, for now, we note that the IMF's Christine Lagarde, in Davos today, is quoted that King Abdullah was strong advocate of women "in a very discreet way." Yeah.

  On January 8, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Saudi Arabia preparing to flog a blogger, video here:

Inner City Press / FUNCA:  There’s a blogger in Saudi Arabia called Raif Badawi, he’s been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for his blogs.  And according to Amnesty International, he’s going to be receiving 50 flogs a week for the next 20 weeks and it begins Friday.  So I wanted to know… this seems pretty extreme.

Spokesman:  Listen, I have… I have not seen that report.  I will take look at it.

  Seven hours later, there was nothing, even as others have commented on the impending flogging of this blogger.

  On January 6, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about attacks by Turkey on Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink whose home in Diyarbakir was searched amid dark self-serving of terrorism.

  UN Spokesman Dujarric replied he hadn't heard of the case. Video here.

  Also on January 6, FUNCA asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about Kuwait sentencing to one year and eight months in jail Saqr Al-Hashash for insulting - Tweeting against -- the Emir. The UN's response was a platitude. But FUNCA will continue.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]