STATEMENTS

Saudi woman faces beheading; More Bahrainis on hunger strike

  • Another UK ally has asked one of its kangaroo courts to sentence a woman activist to death for her human rights activities. On Monday 13th August a criminal court in Riyadh held the first session of the trial of Mrs Israa Al Ghamgham for her anti-regime protests and human rights work. The Saudi prosecutor called for the woman to be beheaded and crucified. She had been detained with her husband, Moosa Jaffar Al Hashim on 8th December 2015 in a house raid at AlJish town in AlQatif province in Eastern Arabia. Her father has pleased for help to appoint a lawyer to defend his only daughter. Mrs Israa Al Ghamgham is the first woman political prisoner from that region. Since Mohammad Bin Salman grabbed power he has detained many women. At least ten of them including academics and human rights activists are languishing at Saudi torture chambers.  “Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behavior, is monstrous,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement on Wednesday.

As Bahrain’s pro-democracy activists intensified their civil resistance insurrection, more native Bahrainis have joined the hunger strike that Ali Hassan Mushaima had started three weeks ago. Yesterday Mrs Du’aa Al Wada’ei, wife of human rights activist, Sayed Ahmed Al Wada’ei stopped eating solid food demanding proper medical treatment and care for her jailed mother, Hajer Mansoor and brother, Nazar. The two had been in jail for almost two years as Bahrain’s dictator exacted revenge for Mr Al Wada’ei’s protest against the dictator at Windsor horse race three years ago. A mother of two, Mrs Al Wada’ei spent her first day yesterday on hunger strike outside Bahrain’s embassy at Belgrave Square in Central London. Another hunger striker is Mohammad Mirza who began his action yesterday inside the notorious Jau Prison. He suffers from various ailments but he is denied medical care. The UK’s Prison Inspection Directorate which is “training” Alkhalifa torturers has failed to call for halting the use of medicine, food and family visits as weapons by Alkhalifa regime. More political prisoners are expected to join the hunger strike as the Bahraini people entered a no-return struggle with the hereditary tribal dictatorship who had been emboldened by UK’s former foreign secretary’s notorious declaration in 2014 at Manama Dialogue conference: Your security is our security.

Another example of the use of health care as a weapon against native Bahrainis is that of Abdulla Al Awd. On 18th August he said: I have lost my job, studies, family and freedom, but I do not want to lose my health. Since I was jailed I have been suffering severe pain in my stomach which is becoming worse by the day. I asked the management of Jau prison to transfer me to an outside hospital for treatment or give me painkillers, but they have rejected my requests”. Is this how to run a modern state? Is this cruel regime worth defending?

On 20th August several international bodies signed a joint statement expressing indignation at Bahrain’s GONGOs for disregarding the case of Hassan Mushaima. The statement said: The Bahraini human rights mechanisms have largely failed to properly address concerns raised on behalf of Hassan Mushaima, and his life remains at risk. Because of this, his son, Ali Mushaima, is on his 20th day of a hunger strike outside of Bahrain’s Embassy in London. It further added: The Bahraini government’s illegal restrictions on healthcare violate international detention standards, and prisoners of conscience have been singled out for mistreatment. Prison authorities force prisoners of conscience, including the elderly Mushaima and Dr. Al-Singace, to be strip-searched, chained, shackled, and marched to medical facilities if they want to attend medical appointments. They must face this treatment when attending external appointments, and when transiting within the prison to the internal medical facilities, which they refuse to do. There is no security justification for this treatment, as Mushaima and al-Singace have never presented any security risks in detention, nor posed any flight risk. This treatment is therefore interpreted by the prisoners, and by our organisations, to be both arbitrary and punitive, with the intention to humiliate and degrade prisoners of conscience. Such treatment contravenes the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules.

The relations between Alkhalifa tribal dictatorship of Bahrain and the state of Qatar has deteriorated further. Ten days ago Bahrain’s dictator hinted at his right to rule Qatar arguing that his tribe had lived there in mid-17th Century. He continued his aggression with another decree banning Qatari nationals from obtaining visa or entering Bahrain. He is also targeting Pakistan by denying its nationals obtaining visa to enter Bahrain. This follows the victory of Imran Khan in the latest parliamentary elections. The regime is ill-advised to wage foreign wars when its home front remains fragile and against him.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

22nd August 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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