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Court names Bahraini prince in torture claims, court orders HMRC to investigate spyware


In a significant development, a London court has decided to remove the anonymity of one of Alkhalifa officials in a case brought against him by one the torture victims. On Friday 9th May Lord Justice Laws ruled that the name of Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of Bahrain’s dictator, may be exposed to the public in the case brought by a Bahraini victim of torture, known only as FF. In October the court will decide on the issue of immunity of Nasser as he is expected to claim diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution. It is alleged that the prince was responsible for the torture of political detainees in 2011. There was good coverage of this legal battle. On Monday 12th May, The Financial Times published a report by Jane Croft in London and Simeon Kerr in Dubai, entitled: “English court reviews immunity of Bahrain prince over ‘torture’”.  On the same day The Independent published an article by Oliver Wright entitled: “ Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa could lose UK diplomatic immunity over torture claims”.

The court decision came as preparations were being made for a Public Relations campaign in UK by the Alkhalifa ruling family involving several activities starting this week. On Friday Prince Andrew will address a conference at The Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre in Westminster to claim that Bahrain is a land of religious freedom. This motto has enraged the majority of Bahrainis who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. Last month The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said: “Targeting the most senior and influential Shi’a religious figure in Bahrain may amount to intimidating and thus discriminating against the entire Shi’a Muslim community in the country because of its religious beliefs,”. The statement followed the revocation of Ayatullah Sheikh Hussain Najati’s Bahraini citizenship and the orders to expel him from the country. On Sunday 11th May Patrick Cockburn wrote in The Indepen dent on Sunday an article entitled: “Prince Andrew praises Bahrain, island of torture”, with a sub headline:  Kingdom that represses its Shia majority is to receive seal of approval from the Duke of York

In 2011 the regime, emboldened by the Saudi invading forces, destroyed more than 40 mosques of the native Shia Muslim population. Three months ago the Supreme Scholars Council, a body representing the Shia Muslim scholars, was disbanded in a brazen move against the natives. The identity of Bahrain, as a Shia Muslim country is being gradually eroded as a result of the Alkhalifa policies of religious cleansing. Over the past decade tens of thousands of foreigners have been naturalized in order to alter the demographic balance. Prince Andrew’s participation in this flagrant distortion of facts is both unfortunate and shameful. The PR lavish and costly programme has been launched to coincide with a visit by Bahrain’s dictator to UK this week. On Tuesday 13th May The Guardian published an article by Ian Black, entitled: UK-Bahrain relations to come under scrutiny as Gulf state's king visits UK. Its sub-heading says: Democracy activists hope to exploit King Hamad bin Issa Al Kh alifa's visit as human rights violations continue in island nation.

On another level, a London court has ruled that the refusal by Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) to investigate the export of surveillance technology to repressive regimes such as Bahrain, Egypt and Ethiopia. A prominent NGO, Privacy International, had approached HMRC for an investigation of the export of the technology that includes FinFisher Spyware after revelations that it had been used to spy on activists through their computers. The decision by the court to order HMRC to address the complaints by Privacy International is a milestone ruling that can potentially reduce the capability of repressive regimes to spy on innocent people.

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground has continued to deteriorate as the Alkhalifa become more emboldened by the unwavering British political and security support, to carry out human rights violations. It is now 27 days since Abdul Aziz Al Abbar was martyred by Alkhalifa Death Squads, but the regime still refuses to release his corpse. It is yet another black chapter in Alkhalifa history that they use dead corpses as means of pressure on Bahrainis. The house of his family was attacked on Monday by regime’s forces using chemical and tear gases. His pregnant sister suffered miscarriage after inhaling large quantities of these poisonous chemical gases.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
14th May 2014

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