Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ordered that no more government contracts be awarded to German companies, in a sign of continued irritation over Berlin’s foreign policy in the Middle East, according to Der Spiegel reported last Friday. It said the move was likely to hit major companies such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE), Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and Boehringer Ingelheim as well as carmaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE). Relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia have been strained, and Saudi Arabia last year summoned its ambassador in Germany home for consultations over comments by then-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the arrest by Saudis of the Lebanese prime minister, Sa’ad AlHariri. “They have even been asking: Where are the products coming from? Are they made in Germany? Do you have other manufacturing sites? And as soon as this is made in Germany, they have been rejecting any German applications for tender,” Der Spiegel said. Bayer, Boehringer and Siemens declined to comment on the report. Daimler said it could not confirm the report and that its business was ongoing.
On 29th May the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced Dr Mohammed al-Hudaif to five years in prison followed by a further five-year travel ban and a ban on social media. Dr Hudaif was arrested on March 19, 2016 at Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport on his way home from Turkey. The court convicted him on four charges; destroying national cohesion, insulting a neighbouring state (the UAE), publishing writings hostile to state policy; and communicating with members of bodies hostile to the state (the Muslim Brotherhood).
There has been worldwide condemnation of the decision by the UAE’s government to impose ten years jail sentence on Ahmad Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist. Despite numerous calls for his release, the authorities defied the world’s public opinion and imposed the sentence. His “crime” is expressing an opinion on twitter and championing human rights. He is accused of “spreading false news and creating social tension. “The UAE has exposed itself as a brutally repressive place more interested in sending rights defenders to rot in jail than in any real reform,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said. “So long as Mansoor remains in prison, no amount of money nor army of public relations firms will be able to wash away this stain on the UAE’s reputation.”
Yesterday Alkhalifa court in Bahrain re-imposed the five years jail sentence on the world-renowned human rights champion, Nabeel Rajab. He had been charged and sentenced for tweets condemning the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen. Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said: “The Bahraini Court of Appeal has missed a vital opportunity to do the right thing and set Nabeel Rajab free… His ongoing detention is further proof of the Bahraini authorities’ relentless determination to squash the right to freedom of expression and silence any peaceful criticism. She added: “It is absolutely outrageous that he has to spend another single day behind bars solely for expressing his opinion online. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said: “This sentence on appeal to five years in prison for simple tweets confirms that the Bahraini authorities seek to silence Nabeel Rajab – who is a political prisoner subjected to degrading treatment – at all costs”. US Senator Ron Wyden said: No US ally should ever jail people for voicing political opinions. Bahrain must release Nabeel Rajab and others.
On 1st June Alkhalifa fourth high criminal court sentenced 6 native Bahrainis to life in prison falsely accusing them of planting a bomb near Duraz Park. Regime’s agents relied on confessions extracted under torture to pass the sentences. On 30th May regime’s appeal court confirmed life sentences on ten natives and revocation of their nationality. They were asked to pay over $4 million for crimes they had not committed.
Last week US government published its annual report on religious freedom in the world. It has a long section on Bahrain that states: “the government continued to question, detain, and arrest clerics, community members & opposition politicians associated with the Shia community”. It refers to the case of Sheikh Isa Qassim who has been persecuted for his role as the supreme religious authority of the majority Shia Muslim population. He has been under house arrest for two years. Last year five of his supporters were killed when Bahrain’s dictator ordered a criminal attack on the cleric’s home.
Yesterday the political inmates at Jaw prison were viciously attacked for holding a religious vigil to mark the martyrdom of Imam Ali. They were engaged in reciting Quran, reading supplications and performing lamentations when the attack took place. Many were injured and needed medical treatment. This is yet another attack on religious freedom taking place few days after the US report.
Bahrain Freedom Movement