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Serious escalation of state-terrorism has been reported in the last few days following the debacle of Bahrain’s dictator at the Ascot race course in London on Saturday 11th May . Many people have been arrested; most of them subjected to severe torture on the spots where they were detained. Harsh prison sentences have been passed against scores of Bahrainis. At least five people have been imprisoned for anti-regime tweets. Use of chemical gases has also been intensified, and many casualties reported in various parts of the country.
The long-awaited visit to Bahrain by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has been cancelled by the Alkhalifa regime. It had been postponed twice before and now it looks that it will not take place after all. People who know the regime have always said that it is impossible to allow any international individual or team to visit the country for the purpose of investigating crimes against humanity. In the immediate aftermath of the international outcry following the bloody attacks on Pearl Roundabout in 2011, the Alkhalifa were advised by their allies to form a commission to look into those allegations. On 23rd November 2011 the Commission, headed by Cherif Bissioni issued its findings confirming that the regime had used “systematic torture” against detainees and “extra judicial killings” had taken place. An independent investigator like the Juan Mendes, the UN Special Rapporteur on Tortu re would have certainly found evidence against the ruler and his clique that they are managing a regime whose policies had always sanctioned torture. At no point would the Alkhalifa abandon this crime against humanity. The cancellation of the visit is clear and damning evidence that they have not refrained from torture. It needs only one person to go around the villages and towns to collect testimonies of hundreds of victims of torture. The dictator, Hamad bin Isa Alkhalifa would have been implicated in those crimes against humanity.
The Alkhalifa regime has carried out a pre-emptive crackdown on citizens to prevent any disruption to the Formula 1 race scheduled to begin on 19th April. Tens of young Bahrainis have been summarily rounded up, tortured and dumped in torture dungeons. On Wednesday 10th April more than forty homes were raided by heavily-armed mercenary riot police and members of the Death Squads, and arrested at least 12 people from one town alone. They are: Hasan Jaffar Quwaied, Murtadha Ebrahim Tawq, Hasan Ebrahim Quwaied, Ahmed Abdulwahab Alkhayat, Mustafa Draboh, Ahmed Salman Alrafa’ei, jaffar Hasan Sultan, Hassan Ahmed Esmail, Hassan and Khalil Alhanan
Human Rights Watch confirmed the crackdown. Sarah Lea Sarah Leah Whitson, the HRW's Middle East director said on Wednesday 10th April: "Bahraini authorities are carrying out home raids and arbitrarily detaining opposition protesters in advance of the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend," the statement said. These raids and detentions suggest that officials are more concerned with getting activists out of circulation for the Formula 1 race than with addressing the legitimate grievances that have led so many Bahrainis to take to the streets," it read. Night-time raids of targeted people by masked officers who show neither arrest nor search warrants appear intended to intimidate them, their families and their supporters," it added.
Also The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern in regards to the escalated security measures, increased house raids and arbitrary arrests of citizens living in villages located near the Bahrain International Circuit, which is due to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix race on 19th April 2013.
A young Bahraini youth, Hussain Kadhem, is fighting for his life after he had been hit in his head with a shotgun canister fired at close range. He was taking part in a peaceful protest on Saturday 6th April in Sitra. His father was called by the hospital military men and asked to sign his agreement to carry out an operation. He is still in a critical condition.
On 8th April Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office Minister took some questions on his Twitter account about the situation in Bahrain. Apart from repeating old mantras about the need for genuine dialogue and praising the hereditary dictatorship for marginal administrative steps, Mr Burt lacked the vision for a real solution. He definitely did not promote forming a democratic regime and did not call for an end to the culture of immunity. However, he made one significant concession to Bahraini people when answering a question that said: Don’t you think that you Ambassador
are insulting the Bahrainis by saying that Iran is behind this massive movement? His reply was: No clear evidence of Iranian involvement in 2011 unrest. But concerned Iran & others now supporting some radical opposition.” The implication of this answer is that UK Ambassador to Bahrain is wrong about Iran’s involvement, and more importantly, that the Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain had no justification and that both Alkhalifa and Alsaud were lying when they said Bahrain was under external threat.
Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is preparing for real change in Yemen and has started to shield itself by building a fence, over 1,000 miles long, in order to seal off its troubled frontier with Yemen. The BBC has been told by Saudi border guards that security on the Yemeni side of the border has all but disappeared since the revolutions of the Arab Spring. The implication is that the Saudi regime fears more from the fallout of a democratic change in Yemen.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), with the help of a medical consultant, gathered information and cases about the situation of medical services in Bahrain and the limited access to medical care. The report covered several aspects of the medical situation. The BCHR found evidence of continuous violations committed by the Government of Bahrain that included the breach of the Geneva Convention and the breach of medical neutrality. The evidence also concludes that the medical services have been militarized and are used as a tool to target civilians. Changes in the health policies have been politicized to serve a political agenda.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
12th April 2013
As the Bahraini people continue their revolt against staging the Formula 1 race under the patronage of the Alkhalifa, the regime has intensified its crackdown against the pro-democracy activists, detaining and torturing them in revenge. At least fifteen people were arrested on Wednesday, taken to the torture dungeons and abused. More were snatched from Duraz, Sitra and other towns as pre-emptive desperate steps to stop people exposing Alkhalifa crimes to the world during the race. The walls in several towns and villages were decorated with paintings and cartoons highlighting the people’s predicaments as the regime’s mouthpieces went into full swing to present deceptive image of a country ravaged by Revolution. “Don’t race on our blood” is the main message to the teams and drivers of the F1, with cartoons depicting Bahrain’s dictator using people’s blood as fuel to the cars.
As the Formula 1 teams became under intensive pressure not to take part in the forthcoming race in Bahrain, the health of two of the most prominent human rights activists has deteriorated sharply in the past two days. Abdul Hadi Al Khawana, 51, and his daughter, Zainab, 29 began hunger strike last Sunday in protest at the way they were treated by the prison authorities and lack of access to their families. Mr Al Khawaja is protesting against the increasing brutality of the prison authorities, the use of torture even against those who had been sentenced and the monitoring regime of the family visits that had become less frequent. His daughter, Zainab is protesting against the way she has been prevented from seeing her three-years daughter, Joud. The health of both has deteriorated in the past two days and calls have been made to transfer them to the hospital for emergency treatment. Sources close to the Alkhalifa said that the regime prefers to have them dead as they have repe atedly challenged its policies of extra-judicial killings and systematic torture.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has issued a statement expressing concern at the health of Abdul Hadi and Zainab and calling for their immediate release. Also, Nabeel Rajab called Abdul Hadi’s wife urging her to remain composed and patient. He asked her to feel proud to have such husband and daughter. Despite his pains and chains, Mr Rajab has proven himself to possess great leadership and humane qualities.
A Kuwaiti blogger and human rights activist, Nawaf Al Hendal said on his Twitter on Thursday that he had been banned from entering Bahrain. He was on his way via the Bahrain-Saudi causeway, attempting to enter Bahrain when he was stopped and told that he was “persona non grata” and should go back to Kuwait. He described how a person in plain clothes informed him of the decision by the ruling family that he was “no longer welcomed in Bahrain”. Bahraini activists have apologised to Mr Al Hendal for being turned away by a murderous regime.
The people’s Revolution has continued unabated. The past week has seen protests and demonstrations in most areas, especially after night fall. Several people were injured, some of them seriously as the dictator continued to issue orders to his troops to shoot at peaceful protesters. The situation is becoming desperate especially that the “dialogue” that started one month ago has practically come to a halt as Bahrainis declared their opposition to any political settlement that leaves the ruling family in charge. The jailed leaders have rejected this meaningless “dialogue” between the political societies and agents of the regime.
At another level, the ProPublica website reported that the International Peace Institute, a New York-based think tank closely associated with the United Nations, announced last month an agreement to open an office in Bahrain to “promote development, peace and international security.” Institute President Terje Rød-Larsen, a veteran diplomat in the Mideast who is also a United Nations under-secretary-general, said that taking money from Bahrain’s government would not compromise the institute’s work. He declined to say how much money Bahrain is providing. Rød-Larsen has been a frequent visitor to Bahrain in recent years, regularly meeting with government officials both in his capacity as the institute’s president and as a U.N. official. Organized as a nonprofit charity in New York, the institute had a budget of nearly $11 million in 2011 and Rød-Larsen received about $495,000 in compensation. According to the group’s 2011 annual report, its major donors that year included the United States, several governments in Europe, as well as Bahraini regional allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The institute’s international advisory council includes Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence. Saudi Arabia sent troops to help put down the protests in Bahrain in 2011.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
22nd March 2013
The Saudi occupation of Bahrain on 14th March 2011 was marked yesterday by Bahraini people in their progressive, peaceful style; protests, strikes, sit-ins and calls for world bodies to take action against this illegal occupation. The 14th February Alliance had called for a general strike to take place yesterday. It was effective in most areas; shops and schools were closed, protests erupted at every corner of the towns and villages and several cities around the world observed the day with protests, seminars or statements. There was a unanimous verdict that the Saudis had committed a big crime by invading Bahrain. Its criminal act resulted in the killing of scores of Bahrainis, the detention and torture of more than four thousand people over the past two years, the destruction of more than forty mosques, the sacking of more than 5000 Bahrainis and the persecution of more than 70 percent of the population. The occupation had failed in achieving its main aim; the crushing of th e Revolution. Instead, the political strife has now reached the doorsteps of the Saudi royal family, with cities like Riyadh, Al Qaseem, Buraida, Al Jawf and others witnessing daily protests.
By Ron Ridenour
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!
We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.
With the approach of the second anniversary of the Saudi occupation of Bahrain, feelings are running high among the people who want to see their country liberated from both the Saudi and Alkhalifa occupation. The 14th February Alliance has called for country-wide strikes on 14th March, the day the Saudi troops crossed the causeway between the two countries and re-set the military scene in the country. The mothers of the martyrs have become focal to the revolutionary movement and have been at the forefront of the calls for regime change. They have also urged people to participate actively in the coming activities against the Saudi occupation especially the 14th March strike.
The mother of Martyr Ahmad Farhan who was killed in Sitra the day after the Saudi invasion has expressed deep feelings in the name of her son’s blood, to fully support these peaceful actions. Several other mothers also expressed strong views calling for public participation in the anti-regime activities especially those aiming at ending the Saudi occupation.
The aim of the invasion of Bahrain was to crush the people’s Revolution which had started one month earlier. While the international community has remained largely silent, the people have campaigned against the military presence and warned other people in the GCC countries to express their rejection of military intervention by Saudi Arabia against their will. If the Saudi crime in Bahrain is unchallenged it will be repeated in other countries and the people will be kept at bay, unable even to organise peaceful protests against the hereditary dictatorship of the sheikhs.
The Bahraini Opposition in UK is organising several activities to mark the occasion and make other people aware of the situation. On Sunday 10th March there will be a Rally at Marble Arch which will be addressed by several people from anti-war movements and human rights activists. On Tuesday 12th March a seminar will be held at the House of Lords and will be addressed by several Bahraini speakers. The Gulf Cultural Club and the Open Discussion will hold a seminar on Wednesday 13th March at which notable speakers will participate including Professor Madawi Al Rashid, from King’s College, Professor Joshua Castallino, Dean of Law Faculty at Middlesex University and Jawad Fairooz, former MP from Bahrain. There will be a protest outside Saudi Embassy on Wednesday.
In another development, Amnesty International has condemned the arrest of Zainab Al Khawaja who had not committed any crime punishable by civilised laws. It considered her “prisoner of conscience” and called for Zainab’s immediate and unconditional release. It also urged its members to write to the authorities to demand her release.
The human rights defenders from the Gulf countries and Yemen, convened their second Gulf Platform for Human Rights Defenders in Istanbul (1-2 March 2013). It was organized by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. In their final statement they called for the release of all political prisoners in the GCC countries, allowing human rights activists free and unrestricted travel between those countries, stoping all forms of legal prosecutions, threats, intimidations, blackmailing, defamation, denunciation of activists, and the opening of a regional office for the UN Commission for Human Rights. They have also urged the UN Security Council to submit the Yemeni file to the International Criminal Court for investigation of war crimes that may have been committed by Ali Saleh’s regime.
In the past few days the people’s resolve to continue their struggle until the Alkhalifa regime has been brought down has become stronger following the total failure of the meeting arranged by the Alkhalifa regime between the political societies. While some of those bodies had thought they were going to negotiate with the Alkahlifa, the dictator’s court issued a statement insisting that none of the ruling family would participate, thus nullifying the initiative. There are now enormous pressures on those societies to withdraw from this poorly-presented PR show.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th March 2013