STATEMENTS

Saudis, Khalifis escalate repression with more arrests, torture

The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is taking a turn to the worst. The two regimes have been emboldened by Western indifference towards the rising trend of ill-treatment and abuse under the Saudi and Alkhalifa tribal rulers. On Monday Saudi forces handed the body of a young man from Qatif. Nayef Ahmad AlOmran had been in jail for over six years for taking part in anti-regime protests. He had been subjected to torture and denied medical care. The immediate cause of his death is not immediately known but close relatives believe that his death is linked to his treatment behind bars. On the same day another man lost his life. A prominent Saudi cleric has died after five months in detention, his family and rights activists said, amid heightened criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Also Ahmed al-Amari, who had previously served as a dean at Islamic University in Medina, was transferred to a government hospital earlier this month after suffering a brain haemorrhage, London-based rights group ALQST and activists said. Amari’s son, Abdullah, confirmed the death on Twitter and said funeral prayers would be held last Monday afternoon.

While Western politicians continue to ignore the excesses of their allies, good-hearted people have made a stand against their inhumane policies. More than 200 scholars worldwide have signed an open letter to the Saudi authorities in support of a jailed woman academic. Dr Hatoon Al Fassi has been in detention for almost a year for defending women rights. The signatories include the founding director of Prince AlWaleed Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. Also the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudau has called on the notorious Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) to release blogger Raif Badawi saying that it is “a priority to all Canadians”. Mr Badawi has been behind bars for eight years for writing critical comments about the regime. Meanwhile on 17thJanuary the American Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted against MBS: “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been hailed as a progressive reformer. But his track record of imprisoning, torturing and murdering activists begs to differ. It’s time that the U.S. and the international community hold this despotic regime accountable.”

Australia’s peak workers group, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has called for a formal inquiry into the AFP’s processes and the role of Australian authorities in the lead up to the arrest of Hakeem AlOraibi. Key questions about the complicated case remain unanswered, including the actions of the AFP and its officers seconded to the country’s Interpol bureau, which alerted Thailand to Al-Araibi’s travel plans because of a false red notice. The red notice was erroneously issued by Interpol against its own protocols which ban the granting of red notices for refugees on behalf of the country from which the individual fled. “It’s deeply disturbing that our own authorities would help a country to extradite an Australian resident when they are accused of torturing that person,” said the ACTU president, Michele O’Neil.

On 16th January A group of football-loving Rohingya refugees called on relevant authorities to free Hakeem al-Araibi while at the same time slamming the “hypocrisy” that sees their people displaced and stateless. Arakan Times Rohingya Football Club official Mohammed Faruk said he hoped the world can unite to win Oraibi’s release and end the Rohingya suffering. “As refugees ourselves, we know the kind of sacrifices Hakeem had to go through. We don’t want to go back to a place where our lives are in danger and Hakeem should not have to go through that anxiety. We hope he is released and can go back to Australia,” Kuala Lumpur-based Faruk told the South China Morning Post.

In another development Bahrain’s dictator has ordered his “court of cassation” to enforce the ban imposed by the tribal dictatorship on “Wa’ad” society, a liberal leftist political group. It had already dissolved Al Wefaq and Al Amal societies for siding with the people against Alkhalifa occupiers. Yesterday Amnesty International issued a statement against this decision. It said: “Amnesty International calls on the Bahraini authorities to ensure that Wa’ad is allowed to reopen and resume its activities without delay and uphold the rights to freedom of association and expression. The international community must also use its leverage with the Bahraini authorities to push them to put an end to their systematic crackdown on opposition, which has been going on for far too long, unchecked.”

On 21st January regime’s courts passed one year prison sentences on eight natives for taking part in anti-regime protests. They are all children under the ages of 18. Meanwhile two human rights prisoners, Naji Fateel and Ali Hajji have completed 65 days on hunger strike to protest the denial of medical care and proper family visits. Lord Scriven and Lloyd Russell-Moyle have urged UK’s foreign minister to ask Bahrain’s dictator to heed the calls for proper treatment of detainees especially the two hunger strikers.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

23rd January 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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