Well, he did it, kittens.
Pirate Party International and Anonymous activist, torture survivor and Cryptosphere contributor Raymond Johansen underwent 50 lashes in Trafalgar Square last night to raise awareness of the case of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years, just as he said he would.
He really did it.
It was the first public flogging in Trafalgar Square since the 1830’s. The practice of flogging for punishment was banned for cruelty in the UK in 1948 for adults, but not banned for children at school until 1987.
Raymond was beaten with a cane, the same weapon used by the religious police and prison officials on Badawi in his Saudi prison. You can watch a video of an authentic Saudi flogging below for comparison purposes. Caning has drawn much fire in recent years as torture, although countries who rely on it as judicial punishment resist such a label.
The flogging had to be stopped twice as the canes being used on Raymond had broken under the ordeal.
Liberal blogger Badawi was originally sentenced to six years and 600 lashes for apostasy, but his case was reviewed by the Sharia court and increased to 1,000 lashes and ten years. The caning session is broken up into weekly sessions of 50 lashes, to ensure their subject survives long enough to receive the total punishment. The canings have had to be postponed several times, as Badawi’s health has been rendered so precarious by his confinement and torture that there is serious medical doubt he would have survived another session.
“[Today I’m] Struggling as expected. It will take me some time to recover. But I’m ready to continue to work,” Raymond said today on Facebook. “Flashbacks and loads of pain. Muscles and tendons and welts.” The flashbacks are a result of the PTSD he continues to suffer from his 2011 kidnapping and torture at the hands of a biker gang. He told us, “I’m relaxing for the first time in a long time so no worries there. I’ve been dealing with some things in my head and trying to recoup physically too.”
He has moved to Manchester to assist local Anonymous activists with OpSafeWinter, the operation which distributes necessities to the homeless and needy. It should be noted that he has only recently finished a course of chemotherapy, so his doctors cannot be well pleased with his latest adventure.
The fifty strokes were administered in several batches, as the flogging was broken up by police and several breaks to get new canes when the ones in use broke. According to Anon UK Radio host Steve Stevenson, “He was in pain when he moved. 50 or more lashes, two canes broke. I left him with campaign organizer, drinking a whisky.” For medicinal purposes, of course.
Free Raif Badawi organizer Nathan Newman said, “He’s a bold, strong man. I’m glad to have met him and to be working with him.” On Facebook he posted:
Ray went back to Trafalgar Square on his own last night and we can’t make him leave. He keeps saying something about turning Nelsons Column into Raymond’s Column…
(He’s alive and well, laughing and healthy although in some discomfort. He’s extremely grateful for all of your messages and well wishes; they mean everything to him right now)
Supporters didn’t hold back, although some of them did admit being unable to watch the livestream or video.
That’s Chelsea Manning’s lawyer.
Anon UK Radio host Tony Cleghahan commented on Facebook, “Gezz man.. hope he is ok.. last night was not easy for him..
Send him my deepest love and hugs.”
Rasha Ahmed said, “Many thanks and much respect to dearest Raymond for his courageous and heroic act last night. Although I’m deeply saddened that he had to suffer in order to make a statement, but I’m filled more motive to do more for what I believe in and what I fight for. Thanks Nathan for being there for Raymond you guys are awesome. I saw you were badly hurt; please take rest until you fully recover.”
From Fifth Column journalist Alex Freeman came the comment, “Please know that you can reach out to me if needed. I can only imagine what you’re going through right now, and as such, will continue to stand in your corner.”
Linda Malcor posted, “Raymond, I heard you say in your interview that you needed to curl up in a corner where you felt safe. We are all in your corner, keeping you safe. Let us know if there is anything specific that we can do.”
Sufficiently warned/braced? We’ll wait while you get a snifter of something to stiffen your spine, because this twenty-minute video is going to need all the stiffness you can muster to get through. Includes an introductory interview with Raymond Johansen as well as footage from the event itself.
Additionally, Raymond was interviewed on AnonUK Radio today.