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Bahrain: Revolution continues unabated as HR defenders jailed


Bahrain’s dictator has ordered the imprisonment of the most prominent human rights activist for three years for tweeting anti-regime sentiments. The President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Nabeel Rajab was sentenced by Alkhalifa court after a summary trial to the long sentence despite appeals by international human rights bodies to release him.  Amnesty International described the sentence as “a dark day for justice in Bahrain”, adding that the “verdict marks the end of the façade of reform” in the country. Nabeel Rajab was indicted for anti-regime tweets and taking part in anti-regime protests. His arrest and trial were conducted under the supervision of a Scotland Yard team who was dispatched to Bahrain to help the regime quell pro-democracy demonstrations. Last month Amnesty International considered him “Prisoner of Conscience. After the verdict The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders cal led for his immediate release and put an end to acts of harassment against him and other human rights defenders and guarantee his physical and psychological integrity. The dictator was particularly incensed by one tweet that said: “King of the country: I appeal to you to leave as a mercy for this land and its good people. I consider you a tyrannical despot who is not suitable to rule this land for reasons that I will present”.

On Wednesday night, another human rights defender, who is also a member of BCHR was severely beaten by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads. Sayed Yousuf Al Mahafdha, was stopped while driving by ”traffic” police, held up while Death Squads arrived. He was then severely beaten and his telephone snatched. His children were watching the horror of their father being beaten by the attackers. These attacks on human rights and civil liberties came one day after a speech by the dictator in which he threatened more repression if Bahrainis did not accept to join what he called “dialogue” in which the rule is “I speak, you listen”.

Instead of heeding the calls for reform and for implementation of Bissioni Commission’s recommendations, the Alkhalifa are now conducting a reign of terror, with the help of foreign police and spy agencies, including Scotland Yard and Mossad. Gagging orders have been issued to several people, including Sayyed Kamel Al Hashimi, an outspoken cleric at a local mosque. Alkhalifa minister of justice issued the order that this scholar was banned from addressing the prayers congregation. Two other clerics were stopped by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads, abused and their turbans rolled on the street in a clear humiliation of their religious status. Shia Muslims have been routinely targeted for their political and religious convictions.

Meanwhile the Appeal trial of the 21 leading figures of the revolution was adjourned by the Alkhalifa court until next month. There are 14 of them in the docks while seven others are at large. On 14th August, Amnesty International issued a statement calling the delay in announcing the verdict in activists’ appeal a ‘denial of justice’. Dr. Ghanim Alnajjar, an internationally recognized human rights expert, who observed the court proceedings on behalf of Amnesty International said, "The decision to postpone the final verdict is unjustified, and is tantamount to a denial of justice."

In the meantime, the people have continued their daily protests and demonstrations despite the enormous pressures, repression and foreign support received by the Alkhalifa. From town to town, village to village, the revolution has been sweeping the country unabated. With it goes the inhumane repression that employs chemical gases, tear gas and shotgun as the main tools. Tens of Bahrainis are injured and maimed everyday but they cannot go to the main hospitals which have been heavily-militarized. The demonstrations on 14th August were particularly targeted as the regime sought to quash the image of independence from the minds of the generations. It marks the British withdrawal from the country in 1971 and is considered by the people as the “Independence Day”. On their part the Alkhalifa designated 16th December as the National Day to mark the ascendance to the throne of the former ruler following the death of his father in 1961.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
17th August 2012

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