STATEMENTS

Anger at Saudi repression & crimes; The Times exposes UK role

On 24th September the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement titled ‘New’ Saudi Arabia ushers in even more repressive climate for journalists”. It said: On June 1, authorities arrested Marwan al-Mureisi from the Specialized Medical Center Hospital in Riyadh, while he was at the bedside of his five-year-old son. CPJ is investigating the possible jailing of at least 10 other journalists since Salman took power, but news of detentions sometimes doesn’t surface for months. Activists in contact with CPJ often have no knowledge of when authorities detained someone or where they are holding them. The journalists’ profile pages and blogs disappear behind “404 not found” messages, leaving only a breadcrumb trail of social media posts that stop the day of a rumored arrest. Even journalists advocating for policies supported by Salman are not safe. Eman al-Nafjan, whose blog Saudiwoman covered issues absent from other Saudi media outlets, was detained by the State Security Presidency in mid-May, alongside several other activists who campaigned against the ban on women driving. The next month, authorities ordered the driving ban to be lifted, but the arrests continued. Nouf Abdulaziz, who wrote posts about women’s rights, including criticism of the ban on women driving, is also in custody

Saudi Arabia and its allies balked at efforts to renew work by U.N.-backed “eminent experts” investigating human rights violations in Yemen, setting up a possible diplomatic showdown with some Western countries over scrutiny of a 3-1/2-year war that has killed thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The standoff comes just three weeks after the experts issued a scathing report saying the governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could be responsible for war crimes. Mona Sabella, an international advocacy officer at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said: “The choice is clear for U.N. member states: Support the renewal of independent and international investigations into war crimes in Yemen, or bow to Saudi threats and allow these investigations to be quashed,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Nothing would make Saudi Arabia and the UAE happier than to do away with independent investigations into war crimes in Yemen.” Before a late Thursday (20th September) deadline at the Human Rights Council, the “Arab Group” led by Tunisia floated a resolution calling for “capacity building and technical assistance” to Yemen’s Saudi-backed government, but no extended mandate for the experts. A rival resolution from Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, among other things, seeks to extend the experts’ mandate by a year.

Following a successful Ashura popular programmes in Bahrain in which tens of thousands took part, the regime’s prime minter has started the ball rolling for revenge attacks on the majority native Bahrainis. The tribal dictatorship had sought to silence the aggrieved people, threatening the heads of the congregation halls, the orators, lecturers and the general public against any reference to the regime’s crimes, any mention of their jailed leaders or any reference to their hundreds of martyrs liquidated by the regime in cold blood. In a statement issue two days ago, the longest serving prime minister in the world was reported to have ordered punishing the native participants in those massive processions. The British-backed Alkhalifa dictators have banned any criticism of their crimes against the native population, their antiquated style of government or their role in attacking and killing Yemeni people. The bleeding hearts of Bahrainis are so agitated that any form of public gathering is often used to air their grievances. The regime had sought to hide its crimes by intimidation and torture of critics. Fears are growing for the religious freedom of native Bahrainis.

Yesterday regime’s mouthpieces announced that Alkhalifa occupiers had decided to put on trial a group of 169 natives some of whom had participated in anti-regime peaceful protests. According to the reports 111 of these Bahrainis are in jail; the rest are at large. They are falsely accused of forming a cell in the name of “Hezbullah” and were planning to attack government targets. None of Alkhalifa members has ever been attacked in the past 200 years while hundreds of natives have been killed by the regime in the past seven years alone. The regime thrives on accusing the natives of links with outside groups to justify its increasing criminal behaviour towards the native population.

This escalation of repression follows strong criticisms of Alkhalifa by an extensive report and an editorial in The Times on Saturday 22nd September.  Both referred to the secret deals between the Conservative government and Alkhalifa that involve spending tax payers money on training regime’s officers who are often accused of administering torture on activists including women. Last week a female torturer subjected three women pro-democracy activists to horrific torture when they shouted the name of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Hussain. She was so incensed when she the heard the women wailing that she went beserk; expressing her hatred by merciless attacks on the women and transferring them to solitary confinement. Among them was Hajer Mansoor, mother-in-law of London-based activist, Sayed Ahmad Al Wadaei.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

27th September 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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