STATEMENTS

US Senate rebukes Trump on Saudi Arabia, Bahrainis mark Martyrs Day

The US Senate delivered a rare double rebuke to President Donald Trump on Saudi Arabia on Thursday 13th December, voting to end US military support for the war in Yemen and blame the Saudi crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In a historic move, Senators voted 56-41 to end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.  The votes were largely symbolic because to become law the resolutions would have to pass the House of Representatives, whose Republican leaders have blocked any legislation intended to rebuke the Saudis. In another symbolic rebuke of Saudi crown prince, the US Senate unanimously adopted a new resolution to hold Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Last month The CIA concluded that MBS ordered the assassination. Although these decisions may not have immediate impact on the US-Saudi relations, the Saudis were furious that this assertion had been made. Two years ago they were angered by the Jasta law that allows victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack to seek compensation from the Saudi government.

Nabeel Rajab is being intimidated daily as his appeal court on 30th December approaches. His cell was thoroughly searched twice in a month and his belongings scattered. The torturers attacked him verbally knowing that one day they would be in the docks answering for their crimes. There is worldwide campaign to force Alkhalifa dictator to order Nabeel’s immediate and unconditional release especially as the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen which he had criticised has been defeated. Meanwhile 53 NGOs have signed an open letter addressed to Bahrain dictator demanding that Nabeel Rajab be set free and his trumpeted charges dropped. The letter said: We urge Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.

As the predicament of Bahraini athlete, Hakeem Al Oraibi continues, pressure is mounting on the Thai authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally. He has been in detention since his arrival with his wife for their honeymoon last month. His lawyers are demanding that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton grant him emergency Australian citizenship. Latifa al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers lodged a request with the Home Affairs Department on December 10, but she is yet to hear back from Mr Dutton. “This request requires emergency government intervention and marks Australia’s stance on protecting legitimate refugees,” she said. Thailand would also be in breach of international law if it proceeds with extradition.

Two native Bahrainis are approaching a critical point in their hunger strike protesting their ill-treatment at the hands of Alkhalifa torturers. Naji Fateel, a human rights activist and Ali Hajji have been asking for proper medical health as the regime’s torture lieutenants continue to deny them basic health care. Their predicament has become worse after they had smuggled footage from jail about their situation to the outside world. Symptoms of fatigue have recently surfaced and calls were made to them to seek alternative ways of forcing the regime to listen to their grievances. Their health is deteriorating at a faster pace having experienced the worst possible treatment at the hands of foreign occupiers.

Yesterday Maryam Al-Khawaja was chosen by FrontLine Human Rights Defenders to receive the prize they had been awarded by the United Nations. The UN Prize for Human Rights 2018 has been awarded to several human rights activists: Rebeca Gyumi of Tanzania; Joênia Wapichana of Brazil; FrontLineHRD of Ireland & Asma Jahangir (posthumously) of Pakistan. FrontLine Human Rights Defenders said: “Before Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was tortured & sentenced to life in prison for demanding justice in Bahrain, he was our MENA Coordinator & friend. Today we accepted the UN Prize for Human Rights, with Abdulhadi’s daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja representing us on the UN stage.”

The Martyrs Day (17th December) commemorations this year have taken a step forward in terms of determination and presence in the streets, inside and outside Bahrain. Despite pre-emptive campaign of arrests and intimidation by the Alkhalifa forces, people went ahead with their plans to mark the day in their own styles of demonstrations, visits of the graves of martyrs and solidarity with their families. Similar activities were held in several countries. In London activists organized an exhibition at Marble Arch on Sunday and a seminar and press briefing at Parliament on Monday. The message has remained unchanged; The only way to stop regime’s violence and dictatorship is to achieve fundamental political change.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

19th December (info@vob.orgwww.vob.org)

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