STATEMENTS

Saudis unhelpful in Khashoggi’s probe, Khalifis exposed by athlete’s case

Saudis unhelpful in Khashoggi’s probe, Khalifis exposed by athlete’s case

The U.N. investigator leading the inquiry into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi said on Tuesday 29thJanuary that Saudi Arabia had not yet approved a request for her to enter the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul and meet Saudi authorities. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on executions who is on a week-long mission to Turkey, briefly visited the Istanbul neighbourhood where the Saudi consulate is located but did not enter the premises.

Britain should be a “critical friend” to Saudi Arabia. . For the first time, the Chairman of BAE systems, Europe’s biggest defence company, Sir Roger Carr on 26th January, has responded to Khashoggi’s murder, telling Sky News that the UK needs to help the development of Saudi Arabia by being “a critical friend”. He said: “Two issues damaged the position of Saudi Arabia in the eyes of the world – the Khashoggi affair is one of them and also the war in Yemen”. Many of those deals have involved BAE, including the sale of 48 Typhoon jets to the kingdom last year. They have been criticised frequently by human rights campaigners, criticism that intensified after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

In a significant development Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened in the plight of Hakeem al-Araibi, urging his Thai counterpart to stop the Melbourne-based refugee footballer’s extradition to Bahrain and release him from detention. Mr Morrison wrote to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha several days ago, emphasising the case was a matter of importance to him personally, as well as the Australian government and the Australian people. Mr Morrison noted that Mr al-Araibi had a permanent protection visa issued by the Australian government, that the government issued those visas only after a deliberate and considered process, and that Australia considered him a refugee. Hakeem’s wife has appealed to the Thai prime minister to spare her husband’s life and stop the proceedings to extradite him to the Khalifis torture chambers. Human Rights Watch has urged people to “take action and call on Thai authorities to release Hakeem al-Araibi now and allow him to return to his family and teammates in Australia.” FIFA has now taken a stand and asked for Hakeem’s release. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is under international pressure to sack its president, Salman Alkhalifa for putting his tribal affiliation before his commitment to human rights in football. Salman, a Bahraini royal who is also vice president of Fifa, has been widely criticised for his lack of action in the two months since the arrest and detention of Bahraini refugee Al-Araibi. After enormous pressures the AFC’s vice president has written to the Thai prime minister urging him to release Hakeem Al Oraibi. It is clear that AFC’s Executive Committee has acted to save the reputation of the Confederation and bypass its partisan president.

On Monday 28th January, Bahrain’s Khalifi dictator ordered his “court of cassation” to uphold his decision to imprison Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of Al Wefaq Society for life. The sentence is a political decision by the tribal ruler and his clique who have replaced the rule of law with revenge against his peaceful opponents. The court also confirmed an earlier decision to murder two more innocent native Bahraini youths. Ali Al Arab and Ahmad Al Malali were condemned to death by the Khalifis for opposing their hereditary dictatorship. There are at least 23 natives on death row for opposing the hereditary dictatorship. Amnesty International condemned the decision and said: “Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices. It added: “The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association.”

A new ranking for corruption in the world has place Bahrain at 99 out of 180. All other GCC states have better ranking with Qatar at 33 and Oman 58. The country has been through one of its bleakest eras under the present dictator with bribery at the highest level of government, theft by Khalifis, plundering of public wealth and buying off people into silence.

Two human rights activists who have been on hunger strike since 15th November have suspended their action following promises to meet their demands. Naji Fateel and Ali Hajji were asking for proper medical care and family visits when they started their action. Their health has deteriorated sharply in recent days and fears were growing that they might die. Prison officials were forced to promise better medical care.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

30th January 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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