The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has urged the Saudi government to “abolish practices of male guardianship”. It should enforce a recent order that would entitle all women to obtain a passport, travel or study abroad, choose their residency, and access health care “without having to seek their guardian’s consent”. “We asked for the abolition of the system, because even though they said they had passed a law, we realised that in practice the system still continued,” Hilary Gbedemah, a panel member, told Reuters. Saudi Arabia is still one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. It has no women ministers and retains a guardianship system requiring women to have a male relative’s approval for important decisions. The experts said that Saudi Arabia should implement a comprehensive strategy to “eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminate against women”.
Meanwhile the anti-war and anti-arms trade have reacted angrily to the new arms deals signed by Saudi dictator during his visit to UK. These include 48 Typhoon military airplanes and other equipment. The opposition Labour Party had opposed British arms supplies to Saudi Arabia while it is waging destructive war on Yemen, and maintaining its military presence in Bahrain. Amnesty International said the deal will add fuel to the raging fire in Yemen.
Activists have also been outraged by the revelations that British MPs have been on the receiving end of expensive gifts, freebies or paid holidays from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Several MPs have sold out to those dictators and acted to defend them publicly. The Alkhalifa regime spent more than £116,000 to bribe some of those MPs who were given first class travel and expensive lifestyle with their espouses in return for favours. These immoral arrangements have continued for the past 25 years. In the 90s editors of Private Eye uncovered many such instances, especially the late Paul Foot who exposed the “Rolex Watches diplomacy”.
In another development, a Saudi citizen has been martyred under torture in prison. On Sunday 11th March Hajji Ali Jassim AlNaz’ah, 61, from Al Bahari district in Qatif, succumbed to the horrific wounds he had sustained due to extreme form of torture. He is known for his strong anti-regime views and has been calling for real political change in the kingdom of fear. His body showed clear marks of torture, but his family was prevented from taking pictures of the mutilated body or speak to the press.
On Wednesday 7th March Alkhalifa court confirmed the death sentence on native Bahraini Salman Isa Ali. He had been detained on 27th December 2014, tortured at a secret farm with his hands tied up and then his pictures were paraded at regime’s TV mouthpiece “confessing” to criminal activities. Regime courts have also confirmed earlier sentences on another group called “AlBasta group”. They include life sentences to four people, 15 years to five others and revocation of citizenship to nine. The accused are: Sayed Murtada Al Sanadi, Hussain Abdul Wahab, Mohammad and Ali Fakhrawi, Ali Al Me’raj, Mohammad Saleh Isa, Sheikh Zuhair Jassim Mohammad and his brother, Sheikh Ali, Ibrahim Jaffar Hassan, Hamid Ali Mansoor, Mohammad Ahmad Sarhan, Mohammad Abdul Jalil Al Sabba’, Mahmood Abdul Redha Hassan AlJaziri, Mohammad Abdul Aziz Al Daqqaq, Isa Saleh Isa, Sayed Qassim Majeed and Sheikh Isa Al Qaffas.
Sheikh Mirza Al-Mahrous, who is detained among the “Bahrain 13” group of leaders, started an open hunger strike protesting against denial of treatment by Jaw Prison’s administration. After his arrest in early 2011, al-Mahroos was severely tortured – this included sexual abuse, electric shocks, threats of rape, shoes being stuffed into his mouth until his gums began to bleed, and sexual threats being made against female members of his family. Most members of the group suffer from chronic diseases due to torture. There are fears that cancer has returned to detained leader Hassan Mushaima, as reports from Abdul Wahab Hussein’s family stated that his eyesight is poor and that he suffers from other health problems.
In a bizarre development, Al Jazeera TV channel broadcast two-part documentary about the failed coup attempt against the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in 1996. Titled (The undisclosed is greater) the programme presented strong evidence about the role of Bahrain’s dictator. Several officers who had taken part in the coup attempt testified about his role while he was the crown prince. They spoke of funding, purchasing bombs, smuggling arms and equipment for sabotage activities and recruiting would be saboteurs. The programme is a strong indictment of a ruler who has repeatedly accused native Bahrainis of planning to overthrow the tribal regime whose existence is linked to occupation which adopts violence to remain. Despite flexing his muscles to frighten the people of Bahrain, the dictator was shaken to the core. He rushed to issue a denial of his personal involvement in the Qatari failed coup.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
14th March 2018 (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vob.org)