STATEMENTS

Canada pays price of criticising Saudis, Bahraini activist on hunger strike

The Saudis made of themselves a laughing stock when they claimed that they “do not interfere in other countries internal affairs and will not allow others to interfere in their own affairs”. They were justifying their angry and arrogant reaction to Canadian Embassy’s call for the release of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Bahrainis immediately refuted their argument asking: Why did they send their troops to crush our people’s Revolution”? The Yemenis would have said the same. So would the Qataris. Three years ago the Saudis waged one of the most destructive wars in the region, attacking Yemen and killing tens of thousands of its people. They openly said they went to war to stop a Yemeni faction establishing dominance in the country. Aren’t these events that are still unfolding blatant intervention in the internal affairs of these two countries? The Saudis were so incensed by the Canadian Embassy’s statement that they expelled the Ambassador and froze trade deals with Canada. It was a message to Europe to stop countries like Sweden criticising the human rights violations in the Arabian Peninsula.

In its editorial yesterday the Washington Post hailed the Canadian stand. It said: “It is great to see Canada holding aloft the human rights banner, even at the cost of damaged ties to Saudi Arabia. But Canada should not have to do this alone. It is the traditional role of the United States to defend universal values everywhere they are trampled upon and to show bullying autocrats they cannot get away with hiding their dirty work behind closed doors. Every leading democracy — let’s start with the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations — should retweet Ms. Freeland’s post about the imprisoned Badawis. Basic rights are everybody’s business.”

The arrest of two more prominent women human rights activists in Saudi Arabia last week has received attention from human rights bodies. Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada were detained after being repeatedly targeted, harassed, and placed under travel bans for their human rights activism. “This unprecedented level of persecution of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia is a disturbing sign that the crackdown is far from over,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director. “These brave women represented the last vestiges of the human rights community in the country, and now they too have been detained. Saudi Arabia’s new leadership under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has crushed any space for the existence of human rights defenders in the country. On 2nd August a Saudi national was arrested in a house raid without an arrest warrant. Yasser Al Ayyaf has taken a back seat after years of silence following his first arrest shortly after the eruption of the Arab Spring. He refrained from tweeting after his first arrest in 2012/2013. His mother was attacked after her arrest in 2012.

On 1st August, Ali Mushaima, the son of Hassan Mushaima, one of the most prominent leaders of the Bahraini Revolution started a hunger strike outside the Bahraini embassy to protest the ill-treatment of his father, the other leaders of the Revolution and hundreds of political prisoners. He was particularly incensed by the denial of medical treatment and medicine to his father. The UK’s Prison Inspection Directorate which “trains” Alkhalifa officers running the torture dungeons, has been called upon to instruct their “trainees” to stop this crime against humanity. For the past week the media, supporters and human rights activists have flocked to Belgrave Square in Central London to express solidarity and sympathy with Mr Mushaima. The lack of medical care to prisoners has caused medical calamities to many prisoners. Sayed Abbas Kadhem was released last week only to lose his eyesight as a result of the ill-treatment. Several others have developed cancer.

On 6th August Amnesty International published a press release on Bahrain regarding the cruel denial of medical treatment for four jailed activists: Hassan Mshaima, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Abdel-Wahab Hussain and Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad. All four prisoners of conscience are suffering from chronic illnesses and are denied treatment because they refuse to give into the authorities’ demands that they wear prison uniforms and shackles to be taken to receive care and vital medication. Other prisoners have suffered immensely under the regime of “No medication for anti-regime activists”. In addition to those whose ill-treatment led them to develop cancer, another young man has lost sight in his eyes. Sayed Kadem Abbas was released from the torture dungeons when his condition became irreversible.

On 31st July Alkhalifa regime’s forces detained the president of the Nationalist Unionist Congress at the airport. Mr Hassan Al Marzooq was returning from Beirut where he had attended the Arab Nationalist Conference. He was stopped at the airport and detained without informing his family of the reasons behind his detention.  He remains in detention despite local and international calls for his release. His colleagues at the Conference have launched a media campaign to call for his release.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

8th August 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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