STATEMENTS

GCC summit in Riyadh a failure; as Alkhalifa intensify repression

The 39th GCC summit which was held  on 9thDecember in the Saudi capital , Riyadh was one of the worst in the history of this regional alliance, in terms of attendance, achievement or the public perception. The sudden downfall of the Saudi moral and political leadership contributed to the lack of media or political enthusiasm to this annual gathering of the heads of the six states comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council. Qatar snubbed the Saudis by sending a junior minister while Sultan Qaboos of Oman did not show up. Since its inception in 1981 the Saudis have endeavoured to make the GCC and its annual summit their political flagship. But their policies in recent years have contributed immensely to its virtual collapse. Three months ago they formed with the UAE rulers a joint coordinating council heralding the beginning of serious fragmentation of the GCC. Last year the leaders of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain boycotted the summit which was held in the Qatari capital, Doha following the ill-fated decision to ostracize Qatar. It is now widely believed that the GCC’s days are numbered and with it the days of the Saudi monarchy. No major policies were issued by the summit which was dominated by the absence of Qatar. Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the GCC leaders to release political prisoners.
In the fallout from the Khashoggi murder case, some Saudi activists in the US and Canada have told Channel 4 News they believe they’ve been actively targeted by Saudi authorities – from new passports denied, to educational funding withheld, to what they perceive as attempts made to lure them back home. They say they fear for their own safety – following the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The Crown Prince continues to deny any involvement in the murder. This week CNN exposed evidence contrary to what the Saudis had claimed. There is wide belief that Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman had given the orders to kill Khasoggi.
The world has reacted angrily to the Thai government’s decision to arrest a Bahraini athlete on his arrival at Bangkok’s airport. Hakim Al Oraibi has been a political refugee in Australia since 2011 following his detention and torture by the Alkhalifa dictators. He was granted refugee status by the Australian authorities who were convinced that he would face a second round of torture should he had been sent back to Bahrain. He has now remanded in custody for 60 days pending further investigation. The Thai authorities have been heavily and widely criticised by the international community for arresting Mr Oraibi and his wife and threatening to send them back to the murderous Alkhalifa regime in Bahrain. The couple had travelled from Australia to Thailand to celebrate their honeymoon. The Australian foreign ministry has intervened and asked the Thai government to allow him to return to Australia. The international football league (FIFA) have also called for Mr Hakim’s immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International issued a statement confirming that “Hakeem Ali al-Araibi is in imminent danger of deportation from Thailand. Despite his status as a recognized refugee in Australia, Thai authorities detained Hakeem while he was traveling there based on an INTERPOL Red Notice. His forcible return to Bahrain would violate international law.” It said that if deported to Bahrain, Hakeem faces imprisonment based on his prior unjust conviction and is in serious danger of torture and/or other ill-treatment. Hakeem has been outspoken about human rights violations in Bahrain since he sought refuge in Australia.
The regime’s kangaroo courts have continued issuing harsh sentences against native Bahrainis. Last week the total prison sentences of 11 years imposed on Sayed Nazar Al Wadaei were confirmed by those courts. He is the brother-in-law of human rights activist, Sayed Ahmad Al Awadei. Another native, Mohammad Al Khatam who has been campaigning to be employed has been arrested again. Since his release from jail few years ago the regime has “banned” him. This means he cannot be employed locally by any company. He has a large family and cannot feed them. He has repeatedly protested and had been arrested despite the fact that his protest is related to his living conditions.
A jailed prominent activist has started a hunger strike to protest denial of medical care and medicine at Alkhalifa torture chambers. Hesham Al Sabbagh suffered major injuries during torture sessions when he was detained in 2014, including a broken jaw. He had several botched operations but still needs more care and medicines. He is serving 15 years sentence. His blood level has dropped sharply to 3.4 and his general heatlh has also deteriorated. A woman political prisoner, Faten Abdul Hussain, has also been subjected to horrific treatment. The 41 year old mother of four had been detained, tortured and sexually molested for allegedly giving refuge to one of her relatives. There are ten women who are being persecuted by Alkhalifa dictator.
Bahrain Freedom Movment
12th December 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)
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