STATEMENTS

Stop Saudi-led aggression on vital port, free Bahraini women prisoners

As international pressure continues to mount on the Saudi and Emirati regimes not to wage another illegitimate attack on the Yemeni port of Hodeida, the Saudi-led forces have committed another war crime.  At approximately 5:40 am on Monday 11 June, an airstrike hit a newly constructed MSF (Doctors Without Borders) cholera treatment centre (CTC) in Abs, Yemen. It serves a population of more than 1 million people. Markings on the roof of the compound clearly identified the CTC as a healthcare facility. MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs. João Martins, MSF´s Head of Mission in Yemen said the attack “shows complete disrespect for medical facilities and patients. Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable. The compound was clearly marked as a health facility and its coordinates were shared with the SELC”.

Despite loud calls from the United Nations (UN) and the European Parliament (EP) to release all the Saudi human rights defenders detained in a recent crackdown that began on 15 May 2018, Saudi regime has arrested two more women’s rights defenders over the past few days, bringing the number of those arrested close to 20. Other women’s rights defenders have been placed under travel ban. On 6th June 2018, journalist and woman human rights defender Nouf Abdulaziz was arrested in a raid on her home, and taken to an unknown location where she has been held incommunicado. She writes for many publications and was a newspaper editor and a television producer. Then came the arrest of Mayya Al-Zahrani after she had published  a letter that had been prepared by the first detainee to be published if she was arrested.

On 11th June Bahrain’s dictator enacted a law banning members of dissolved political parties, felons and convicts who later had received royal pardons from standing as candidates for elections. The decision effectively blocks Bahrain’s opposition from taking part in the elections for Alkhalifa powerless council, likely to take place in November. His decision was announced by the state-run Bahrain News Agency. Revolutionary groups used the decision to urge the banned political societies to join in the peaceful street protests to bring down the tribal dictatorship. They considered the ban a “blessing in disguise” as it will prevent internal feuding among the opposition should any of them decides to participate in the regime’s political show. Regime’s Death Squads have escalated attacks on native citizens. On Monday 11th June they snatched photo journalist, Hassan Qambar and took him to unknown place. He has been on the run for six years and sentenced for 120 years because of his work that exposed regime’s brutality. Another native citizen was also snatched by masked members of the Death Squads in a dawn raid on his home in the early hours of Monday. The house of Ali Al Adham was surrounded by armoured vehicles during the raid causing fear and anger among the natives.

Also the families of the two women who were arrested four weeks ago are getting increasingly worried for their safety. Zakiya AlBarbouri and Fatima Dawood from Nuwaidrat town are considered “disappeared” as no contact with them has been allowed. Women prisoners have often been subjected to inhumane treatment and torture including rape and other forms of sexual harassment. Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Scriven, has asked the UK government if they knew which branch of Alkhalifa security agencies had detained the two women who have since been “disappeared”. The UK government has recently justified the killing of five native Bahrainis by Alkhalifa occupiers last year on the ground that they were participating in an “illegal gathering”. This is the language of Alkhalifa killers; British people would not identify with them.

To the dismay of Bahrain’s dictator, Nabeel Rajab has been granted an international award. The announcement was made by the French officials who said: With the unanimity of its 163 members of its Council, the City of Paris and its Mayor, Mrs Anne Hidalgo, have awarded a Citizenship of Honour to Mr. Nabil Rajab who is presently jailed by the absolutist regime of Bahrain, after having suffered numerous sequences of torture since 10 years of episodical arrests and releases” The Citizenship of Honour is the highest and rarest honour awarded by the capital of France as it has only been awarded to 18 persons (and two moral persons) in 18 years including Nelson Mandela.

Also the European Parliament has called for the release of Mr Rajab. In a statement on 5th June it said: The European Union reiterates its unconditional support to the work undertaken by human rights defenders such as Mr Rajab. Freedom of opinion and expression are essential features of any democratic system and need to be upheld. The European Union continues to call on the Bahraini government to grant Mr Rajab’s release, including on humanitarian grounds given the reported deterioration of his health. Once again, the European Union expects all parties in Bahrain to engage in a genuine dialogue with a view to relaunching a process of national reconciliation in a peaceful and constructive manner.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

13th June 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

 

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