Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayad has been released by the Saudi Arabian authorities thanks to worldwide pressure, after overcoming a death sentence for a book of poems censored by monarchist fundamentalism.
“His friend is Moroccan and she is in contact with him and me…. She sent me a letter at the beginning telling me that they are preparing to take him to Riyadh….
I thought about whether it would be freedom or revenge, knowing that we were already on the move to free him? And I sent him a message: I hope it will be his release from prison and from this shitty country…
In the early hours of this morning I got up to do some work and I found his message: Ashraf is now free”. (A message from the Moroccan poet Khalid Rassouni).
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Just last Sunday, the WPM Coordinating Committee had approved the following letter to start again a campaign to ask for his release, this is the text:
His Royal Highness Mr. Salman Bin Abdulaizi Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia;
Emir Mohammed ben Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
On behalf of our organisation, World Poetry Movement (WPM), and all its members around the world we ask you to intervene to resolve the issue of the Saudi Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayad, born in 1980 in Gaza, and who has lived for many years in Arabia, where he has become a well-known artist, and even represented Saudi Arabia at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and who since 2014 has been suffering imprisonment in Saudi Arabia, for some interpretation and denunciation of some poems he wrote many years ago by religious extremists who accused him of alleged “apostasy”.
Now, after having served the sentence imposed on him by the court for a year, the world has still not received any news of his release, the authorities have still not released him and the poet remains in a situation of unjustified arrest, without giving any explanation to his relatives, This is an abuse of the law, because the accused has already paid dearly for the handful of poems he has published, with eight years deprived of his own freedom, in addition to the eight hundred lashes he has suffered in his own flesh.
We, the leaders and representatives of the World Poetry Movement, want to understand that the administration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is taking decisive steps in the direction of human rights and modernisation of this very important country, not only in terms of the Arabian Peninsula, but also worldwide. We hope that the news that Ashraf Fayyad has attained his freedom and fully enjoys the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of the Peoples of Humanity will reach the world public as soon as possible. Therefore, on behalf of all the poets who are part of the World Poetry Movement (WPM), and on behalf of each member of the Coordinating Committee of our organisation, undersigned, we ask you, Your Highness, to intervene to release the poet Ashraf Fayad in order to fulfil justice and the mandate of the International Bill of Human Rights.
WORLD POETRY MOVEMENT (WPM)
Rati Saxena: poet and director Krytia International Poetry Festival (India).
Ataol Behramoglu: poet, organizer and counselor of Smyrna Poetry Festival (Turkey).
Alex Pausides: poet and director of the International Poetry Festival of La Havana (Cuba).
Ayo Ayoola-Amale, poet and director, Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation (Ghana).
Francis Combes: poet and director of Festival International des Poètes en Val-de-Marne (France).
Freddy Ñañez, (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela).
Agneta Falk: Poet and artist (Sweden).
Vadim Terekhin: Poet and co-president of Writers’ Union of Russia (Russia).
Khalid Raissouni: poet and member of the Writer Union of Morocco (Morocco).
Zolani Mkiva, poet and director of His Royal Heritage International Poetry Festival (South Africa).
Keshab Sigdel: poet and member of Society of Nepali Writers in English (Nepal).
Oscar Saavedra: poet and coordinator of the Latin American poetry meeting Descentralización Poética (Chile).
Luis Filipe Sarmento, poet, editor and TV producer (Portugal).
Ismael Diadié Haidara, poet, philosopher, responsible for the conservation of the Kati Fund (Mali).
Fernando Rendón: poet and director Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín (Colombia).