STATEMENTS

Spain stops arms supplies to Saudis, Hunger strike exposes Alkhalifa crimes

Yesterday the Spanish Defence Ministry Spokeswoman confirmed earlier reports that her government had stopped selling bombs to Saudi Arabia amid fears that they might be used in the war on Yemen. Spain would pay back to Saudi Arabia more than 14 million Euros already paid for 400 guided laser bombs. A UN report last month criticised the Saudi-led alliance for their war crimes in Yemen that included hitting civilian targets killing innocent men, women and children. The UN also urged Western countries to stop supplying the Saudis and Emiratis with weapons. The sale was sharply criticized by Weapons Under Control, a campaign seeking to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its role in Yemen. The campaign, backed by Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Intermon Oxfam and Spain’s FundiPau, also wants to end exports of weapons to Israel, a country they accuse of violating international laws in Palestine territories. The group’s representatives were meeting with Spanish trade officials on Tuesday to deliver thousands of signatures in support of their campaign, which also advocates for greater transparency in the sales of military and defense equipment that Spain shields under state secrecy laws. Spain’s decision follows similar decisions by Sweden, Germany, Finland, Norway and Belgium to suspend the sale of arms that could be used in the Yemeni war.

As the campaign to stop the execution of a Saudi female human rights activist, Israa Al Ghamgham continues, a Saudi criminal court that deals with terrorism crimes has held secret sessions to try several members of the reform movement who had been detained in September last year. No one was allowed to attend theses sessions. The prosecutors demanded the death sentence to Dr Salman Al Awdah for allegedly calling for political reforms, spreading sedition and incitement against the rulers. The cleric has been in detention for more than two years and is considered a moderate figure. The sentence is seen as the beginning of a wider war on  the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arabian Peninsula.

In its editorial on 28th August, titled “Why Are U.S. Bombs Killing Civilians in Yemen?” the New York Times expressed “shame over American complicity in what a new United Nations report views as criminal carnage.” After describing the situation and how the war started, the Editorial said: “Again and again, Saudi-led airstrikes have struck civilian targets, slaughtering innumerable innocents. Last Friday, the United Nations said the coalition killed at least 22 children and four women as they fled a battle zone. Two weeks earlier, on Aug. 9, a coalition air assault struck a school bus, killing dozens of children. Countless more civilians have been killed by bombs at markets, weddings, funerals — more than 6,500 by the official count, but certainly many, many more. Millions more civilians are suffering from shortages of food and medical care. It also said that the US shares in the blame “by providing weapons and support to the Saudi-led coalition waging indiscriminate war in Yemen.”

The revolutionary fervour has continued in Bahrain. In the week between 28th August and 3rd September there were at least 10 marches in five towns. At least four were attacked by foreign-staffed riot police. Eight native Bahrainis were detained by regime’s thugs. This is unsettling to an embattled, hated regime and its allies who are gradually becoming frustrated and cornered by its lack of political will to change.

The young Bahraini activist, Ali Mushaima, has now completed five weeks of hunger strike outside the Bahraini embassy in London. His health is now a serious concern to his colleagues and human rights activists, having lost at least 14 kgs and suffered general health problems. Last Thursday he was transferred to St Thomas Hospital after his condition had deteriorated. He was treated for exhaustion, fed with gloucose syrup and given some medicines to stomach and muscle ailments. But within hours he was back on the pavement at Belgrave Square. Yesterday, he was joined by Zainab Al Khawaja, a familiar face of the 14th FebruaryRevolution and daughter of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, a world-renowned human rights activist. He is serving life sentence for opposing Alkhalifa tribal dictatorship. Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja had himself entered a hunger strike five years ago to protest the ill-treatment of prisoners of conscience.

On Monday 3rd September woman activist, Zakiya Al Barbouri was remanded in custody for one more month by a judge at Alkhalifa court. No legitimate reason was given for extending her ordeal which had begun more than three months earlier. On 17th May the home of Zakiya Al Barbouri and her cousin, Fatima Dawood, were snatched by ISIS-style members of the regime’s Death Squads in a vicious raid on their homes. Her detention has been regularly renewed. The two woman activists were forcibly disappeared for three weeks after their detention. They were severely tortured and abused to force them to sign false “confessions”.  Mrs Al Barbouri refused to incriminate herself and the process of revenge started.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

5th September 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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