STATEMENTS

Bahrain’s Independence Day marked, Saudi students want to stay in Canada

Yesterday was the Independence Day of Bahrain. It was the day in 1971 when the British completed their withdrawal from all areas East of Suez, including Bahrain. The regime has all along refused to acknowledge this day and insisted on UK’s military presence in the country. Four years ago the dictator offered to build a naval base for the UK marine corps. It was officially opened in the presence of Prince Charles two years ago. The British legacy has been marred by dictatorial rule, bleak record of human rights and demographic engineering to replace the native majority with foreign mercenaries. Over the past half century, the people have struggled to achieve modern statehood and have paid dearly for challenging the tribal dictatorship that has been propped up by the British. Today, Bahrain has become a graveyard for the modern principles envisaged by the world community after the calamities of the First and Second World Wars, and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN covenants.

Meanwhile the Bahraini activist, Ali Mushaima has now spent two weeks on hunger strike outside the Bahraini Embassy in London. He is demanding the provision of proper medical care to his ailing jailed father, Hassan Mushaima and hundreds other political prisoners. Ali Mushaima has now lost at least 8 kgs and is showing signs of real fatigue, dizziness and general weakness. He has survived on liquids as he braved changing weather, heavy rain downpours and continuous threats on his life from Alkhalifa thugs working at their London’s den of corruption. In the early hours of Monday morning he survived an assassination attempt. He was asleep when at 01.50 someone poured unknown liquid from the first floor balcony of the embassy. An umbrella saved his life. The police were called and they prepared a report to be handed to the FCO. As in several other attacks on Bahraini exiles in London, nothing is expected to be done to challenge the murderous Alkhalifa regime which killed hundreds of native Bahrainis in the streets and torture cells. Mr Mushaima has received many well-wishers including politicians, human rights activists, musicians, religious scholars and journalists. The UK government has so far refrained from encountering Alkhalifa on their serious criminal human rights violations.

On Monday 13th August, the Bahraini prisoners at the notorious Jau prison issued a statement detailing their agonies within Alkhalifa torture cells. They listed their most serious grievances; awful physical and psychological treatment, lack of proper medical care, unhealthy amenities and services and denial of proper contacts with families with short and infrequent family visits. An example of the ill-treatment of native Bahraini prisoners is Ali Omran. He is a Taekwondo enthusiast who has languished in alkhalifa torture dungeons for the past three years. He has now been denied family visits and his relatives are extremely concerned for his welfare. He was a member of the National Taekwondo League before his detention. He is holder of two Black Belts and several gold, bronze and silver medals. This 30 years old native Bahraini has been given several jail sentences totalling 44 years, reduced to ten years. His nationality has been revoked.

The London-based Salaam for Human Rights has documented 108 cases of torture in custody of Bahraini prisoners in the two months of June and July. They include children like Mohammad Esa Al A’adhab from Duraz and Ahmad Isma’il from Nuwaidrat. Both were severely beaten and suffered broken limbs.

The death in custody of Sheikh Salman AlDawish in a Saudi jail has, once again, exposed the human rights crisis in Saudi Arabia. This religious preacher had been detained on 22nd April 2016 and has hardly had contacts with the world outside prison. Saudi activists believe that torture is the main cause of his death. Last month another preacher, Safar Al Hawalli was detained. In September last year two clerics had been imprisoned: Salman al-Odah and Awad al-Qarni.

The Saudi-initiated crisis with Canada has not shown any sign of abating. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been praised by international human rights bodies for taking up the human rights issue with the Saudis. Since Riyadh unilaterally took its punitive actions against Canada, a stalemate has developed. Mr Trudeau has insisted that he would not back down from his commitment to defending human rights but sought other means of reconciliation with Riyadh. The Saudis have instructed that university students be withdrawn from Canada and relocated in other countries. But the students have reacted angrily. On 12th August they issued a statement saying that they had formed a “Coordination Committee” to deal with this crisis. It said: “The committee calls for the immediate review of our government’s decision, which will have many negative repercussions that will blow our scientific, professional and academic future.” The Committee “will reject ideas that affect our future, including the idea of closing the scholarship system to Canada, which would hamper our achievements for several years.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

15th August 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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