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Don’t race on our blood, Bahrainis tell Formula 1 as repression continues


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

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