The political polarisation in the Middle East caused by the Saudi policies is leading to anxiety, unease and anger among the people of the region who regard themselves as one people. From the war in Yemen to the military intervention in Bahrain to the support of regional and international terrorism and normalisation of relations with Israel, the policies of Riyadh have fragmented the region and weakened the collective approach to resist occupation, prevent military interventions, achieve Arab consensus on major policies and undermined the people’s moves to achieve democratic transformation and respect of human rights. In his interview with “The Atlantic” magazine, Saudi crown prince acknowledged the occupation of Palestine by Israelis, a new line of recognition of Israeli occupation that had not been expressed by other Saudi officials.
Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on arms purchases from the United States, a US court has refused to cancel cases brought against Saudi Arabia by families of the 9/11 victims. A U.S. judge on 28th March rejected Saudi Arabia’s bid to dismiss lawsuits claiming that it helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and should pay billions of dollars in damages to victims. U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said the plaintiffs’ allegations “narrowly articulate a reasonable basis” for him to assert jurisdiction over Saudi Arabia under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a 2016 federal law. This is a blow to both the US and Saudi governments.
In Bahrain, anger is spreading fast among the people as the Grand Prix (Formula 1) approaches. It is an event that is linked in people’s memory with detentions, torture and death. The regime is exploiting it to show the world that all is well in the country and that it is business as usual. Human rights bodies have called for cancellation of what they regard as “blood race”. In 2012 journalist, Salah Ismail was murdered by regime’s forces as he was covering the protests against the F1 race. A year later two women, Nafisa Al Asfoor and Rayhana Al Mousawi were detained, tortured and imprisoned for several years. In 2016 Ali Abdul Ghani was killed three days before the race as the people protested in anger against it. The revolutionary groups have called for cancelling this year’s race and urged the people to protest in the streets.
On Monday Alkhalifa appeal court adjourned its decision on the five years sentence against four women: Muna Habib, Hamida AlKhour, Amira AlQash’ami and Faten Hussain for giving refuge to young native Bahrainis wanted by regime’s killers for their pro-democracy activities. Another woman prisoner of conscience, Madina Ali has developed serious heart problem as a result of her ordeal at the hands of the torturers. She was detained on 29th May 2017 and sentenced to three years for taking part in a peaceful protest against Alkhalifa dictatorship. Another woman detained, Zainab Makki, had her detention extended by 15 days. She has been languishing behind bars for eight months as a punishment for her political activities. At the same time former prisoner, Mrs Ibtisam Al Sayegh has warned that the health of detained Ilyas Al Mulla has reached a critical level. He had been given 15 years sentence after a long ordeal of torture, ill-treatment and lack of medical care. He developed colon cancer and one of his legs has been recently broken. Mrs Al Sayegh said that the lack of medical care could cost this young native man his life.
On 27 March 2018, Alkhalifa appeal court upheld the 10-year sentence of photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi. On 23 November 2015, Al-Mousawi was first sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and had his citizenship revoked. Although the Court of Cassation overturned the ruling in early 2017, the case was sent for appeal and the case continued while Al-Mousawi was kept in arbitrary detention. Al-Mousawi was arrested along with his brother Sayed Mohammed, on 10 February 2014 from their home in Al-Duraz. During his detention at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for six days, he was tortured “cruelly without mercy,” as he later told his father. Security officers hung him on a door four times, electrocuted him, and did not allow him to sit for four days. They stripped him naked, beat him and sexually assaulted him. No independent investigation into his torture allegations has ever been conducted.
Yesterday the prominent human rights activist, Brian Dooley and Danish Member of Parliament, Lars Aslan Rasmussen, were banned from entering Bahrain. They intended to visit Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja in his torture cell on the seventh anniversary of his incarceration by the tribal Alkhalifa occupiers. They were stopped on arrival and told: You are security risk. Meanwhile Alkhalifa interior minister has threatened to crackdown on dissidents and activists who criticize the government online, Human Rights Watch said yesterday. Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, the interior minister, said on March 25, 2018, that the government was already tracking accounts that “departed from national norms, customs and traditions,” and threatened unspecified new legislation and heavy punishments against “violators.” “No one can mistake the government’s latest assault on the shrinking space for dissent,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A vow to punish those who ‘depart from national norms and customs’ is clearly aimed at anyone who criticizes the government’s policies.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
4th April 2018 (firstname.lastname@example.org, ww.vob.org)