STATEMENTS

Saudis launch war on Qatif, calls for moratorium on executions in Bahrain

The “reformist” face of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) that appears to the West is a camouflage to a more sinister face of repression, dictatorship and state terrorism. The real face of the Saudi regime was laid bare this week when regime’s troops stormed the Eastern city of Qatif, raided many houses and detained scores of innocent people. Yesterday, the district of Kuwaikeb was viciously attacked. The Hussaini congregation hall of “Ben Jum’a” was stormed and at least three of its attendants were seized at gunpoint. Another house in the vicinity was fired on. The town of Al Qudaih was also attacked. Several people were killed in recent months.

Meanwhile pressure is mounting on France to stop arming the Saudis whose crown prince has visited Paris in recent days. He was on a mission to USA, UK and France to urge them to attack Syria. The French president was under pressure to stop arming the Saudis and to ask his guest to stop his war on Yemen. MBS’s ill-fated criminal adventures in Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have disastrously backfired. He wants to achieve some gains in at least of these countries. Syria remains a weak spot as Saudi-backed terrorists continue to wreak havoc on the country. Donald Trump has already said openly that if the Saudis wanted the Americans to remain and fight the Syrian regime they must pay. MBS spent three weeks in USA in one of his longest trips with the aim of creating pressure on the White House to wage war on Syria. The implication of this is that such a war could also involve Iran and Hezbollah, which are considered by MBS to be the arch enemies of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In a worrying development both Saudi Arabia and UAE have drawn plans to isolate Qatar and turn it into an island. Their evil plan is to dig up a canal parallel to the southern borders of the Qatar peninsula linking the waterways on the two sides of Qatar. The Saudis would control the new canal while the Egyptians would be hired to dig the canal. Steps have already been taken including a planned evacuation of the border post of Salwa which links Saudi Arabia with Qatar. The plan also stipulates a one kilometre buffer zone between the canal and the Qatari borders. This area will be used to dump the nuclear waste from Saudi and Emirati nuclear reactors that are under construction.

On Monday 9th April, well-wishers from various human rights bodies staged a protest outside the Bahraini Embassy in London to mark seven years of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja’s incarceration.  Front Line Defenders took the initiative and invited his two daughters to attend. In the evening a seminar was held at the Free World Centre to mark the occasion with Zainab and Maryam Al Khawaja taking the stage to present a human account of the experience of the family and to remember the father.  

On Thursday 5th April Britain opened its first permanent military base in the Middle East in more than four decades in Bahrain. The UK Naval Support Facility can house up to 500 Royal Navy personnel, including sailors, soldiers and airmen. British officials have described it as the first permanent British base east of the Suez Canal since 1971.  “It offers us a much better base than we’ve had before, a much more permanent presence and a real infrastructure for our people who are working and operating here all the time,” said Commander of the Joint Forces Command of the U.K. Gen. Chris Deverell. The re-establishment of the British base was announced in late 2014 following the invitation by Bahrain’s dictator for UK to build a permanent presence. The costs were paid from the public purse at a time when the people face extremely harsh economic situation. Food subsidies are being phased out and many families are now unable to taste meat for long periods. The UK government is under fire for supporting this most horrific tribal dictatorship which has waged extermination war on the native inhabitants with thousands behind bars, hundreds dead and many exiled. The Foreign Office has been accused of trying to cover up its funding of a programme to train the Bahraini police in crowd control techniques, including the use of water cannon and dogs. However, it has emerged that the fund was used to pay for Bahrain’s chief of police, Tariq al-Hassan, and other senior officers to travel to Belfast to learn how police in Northern Ireland deal with public protests.

Last week, Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty, issued a public petition calling for cancelling the death sentence on Maher Abbas al-Khabbaz who is on death row in Bahrain. It said: Maher Abbas was beaten, whipped and electrocuted before he was forced at gunpoint to make a false confession to killing a police officer in 2013. His execution is now imminent, awaiting only a signed death warrant from Bahrain’s King. Last week, Bahrain’s Attorney General recommended that two other men facing imminent execution have their cases retried after Reprieve and other organisations exposed their mistreatment. Will you join us in calling on the Bahraini government to do the same for Maher and other victims of torture facing execution, and ensure that all retrials meet minimum fair trial standards?

Bahrain Freedom Movement

11th April 2018 (info@vob.orgwww.vob.org)

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