STATEMENTS

Soccer world defends Bahraini player, Saudis investigated on Khashoggi

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner has said that there would be an independent investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard has been joined by two investigators, the British lawyer Helena Kennedy and Nuno Pessoa Vieira, professor of Forensics at the University Coimbra in Portugal. The team met with Turkish officials yesterday and would listen to audio recordings of Jamal Khashoggi said to be in the final moments before his death. They have asked for permission to visit Saudi Arabia to pursue their investigations. They are likely to ask for an investigation of Saudi crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, widely believed to have ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

There has been worldwide anger at the news that the United Arab Emirates used a secret, US-developed tool called ‘Karma’ to spy on people around the world through their iPhones. The victims did not need to click on a link; the spies just worked off the phone number. Two weeks after leaving her position as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. National Security Agency in 2014, Lori Stroud was in the Middle East working as a hacker for the repressive UAE regime. She had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the UAE engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy. Stroud and her team, working from a converted mansion in Abu Dhabi known internally as “the Villa,” would use methods learned from a decade in the U.S intelligence community to help the UAE hack into the phones and computers of its enemies. UAE is one of the most oppressive regimes in the Middle East. The Pope who visited Abu Dhabi this week was urged to raise the plight of the prisoners of conscience like Ahmad Mansoor, Mohammad Al rukn and Nasser Bin Ghanem. A British football fan has been arrested and detained in the UAE after he wore a Qatar national team shirt to a match. Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, a British Arsenal fan who lives in Wolverhampton, travelled to the UAE for a holiday in January. He was beaten after the match but when he went to the police to lodge a complaint he was arrested and accused of lying.

Between 21st January and 3rd February there were at least 8 marches in six Bahraini towns and villages calling for regime change. At least 15 people were detained for anti-regime protests. They include a prominent cleric who had been released from jail few days earlier. Sayed Majeed Al Mash’al was summoned by the Khalifi torture apparatus and remanded in custody for two weeks. He had been imprisoned for two years for anti-regime statements. When he was released last week he visited the house of Ayatullah Sheikh Isa Qassim who had been deported six months ago. A senior religious figure, Sheikh Mohammad Saleh Al Rabe’ei was summoned by the torture apparatus, threatened and warned of severe consequences if he spoke about the situation or complained about the regime’s crimes against native Bahrainis. AlWefaq has condemned the persecution of the senior cleric.

The case of native Bahraini footballer, Hakeem AlOraibi has become an international issue with the soccer world joining in the protests against his detention by the Thai authorities for more than two months. On Monday 3rd February Hakeem urged a court in Bangkok not to extradite him to his home country. The court extended his detention by 60 days, during which he can file an objection against the extradition request. Al-Araibi arrived at court in hand and leg shackles, shouting: “Please don’t send me to Bahrain”. He told the court he rejected the extradition request, saying he was detained and tortured for opposing the government, before he fled to Australia more than four years ago. Former Australian football captain Craig Foster and other campaigners were at the court to support the player. Appeals for his release have been made by the international football body FIFA and by the International Olympic Committee, as well as several governments, including Australia, where he plays for a Melbourne club. Representatives from the embassies of Australia, US, UK, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, the European Union, Denmark, Canada, Deutschland, France, Norway as well as FIFA and several NGOs were present at the court. Football Federation Australia have ramped up their campaign to free jailed Bahraini refugee player Hakeem Al Araibi and pledged A$10,000 ($7,263) yesterday to kickstart a fundraising drive to help efforts to have him returned to Australia from Thailand.

In their attempts to silence critical voices and eyewitnesses to their crimes, the Khalifis have detained the father of one of the martyrs and three others from one of their courts. Sayed Saeed  Sayed Essa, father of martyr Sayed Hashim has refused to forget what had happened to his young son who was brutally murdered by the regime’s forces. The other three are; Ali AlHumam, Abdulla Al Mu’allem and Ibrahim Helal.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

6th February 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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