Parliament passed three resolutions on Thursday, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia and Bob Rugurika in Burundi, and urging the Turkish authorities to cease removing remains from mass graves found in the occupied part of Cyprus and to compensate the families of the missing persons.
Case of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia
MEPs strongly condemn the flogging of Raif Badawi by the Saudi Arabian authorities as a "cruel and shocking act" and call on them "to release him immediately and unconditionally" and to ensure that his conviction and sentence, including his travel ban, are quashed. They see Mr Badawi’s case as a symbol of the assault on freedom of expression and peaceful dissent in the country, and "more broadly of the Kingdom’s characteristic policies of intolerance and extremist interpretation of Islamic law".
Parliament instructs its Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula to raise the cases of Mr Badawi and other prisoners of conscience during its forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and to report back to its Subcommittee on Human Rights.
The resolution was passed by 460 votes, to 153, with 29 abstentions.
Mass graves in the occupied part of Cyprus (Ornithi village)
Parliament condemns the “relocation” that took place in Ornithi - where four burial sites were disinterred, two of which were the sites of mass graves and evidence suggests these graves had been previously exhumed and the remains of 71 missing civilians intentionally removed - as "a great disrespect to the missing persons and a gross violation of the rights of their families to finally know the real conditions of the deaths of their loved ones".
MEPs call for the immediate and complete verification of the fate of the missing persons and urge the Turkish government "to immediately cease removal of the remains from the mass graves and to comply with international law, international humanitarian law and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgments" and "to fully implement its obligation following the decision of the ECHR to compensate the families of the missing persons".
The resolution was passed by 543 votes, to 43, with 62 abstentions.
Case of Bob Rugurika in Burundi
MEPs condemn the "unjustified detention" of human rights defender Bob Rugurika - arrested on 20 January 2015 for not revealing his sources for a series of investigative reports concerning the killing of three Italian nuns in September 2014 - and call for his immediate and unconditional release.
The text also urges the government of Burundi "to allow genuine and open political debate to take place ahead of the elections in 2015 without fear of intimidation" and underlines the leading role the EU should play in monitoring the pre-electoral situation.
The resolution was passed by a show of hands.