STATEMENTS

Saudis censored internationally, Khalifis continue citizenship revocation

On 14th February the European Parliament issued a damning statement against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women. MEPs condemned the situation of Saudi women and expressed their concern over the government web services used by men to track women. By using these internet-based applications, male guardians can specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders and receive an SMS update when they travel. Despite a reform agenda to transform the country economically and socially also through women’s empowerment, and the lifting of the driving ban for women inside the Kingdom, the Saudi political and social system remains discriminatory, effectively making women second-class citizens. MEPs noted that male guardians still need to authorise women’s international travel, access to healthcare services, choice of residence and marriage. MEPs urge the Saudi government to immediately abolish the male guardianship system. MEPs also called for a moratorium on the death penalty.

On Wednesday 13th February The European Commission added Saudi Arabia, Panama and four U.S. territories to a blacklist of nations it considers a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering. The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks, but it has been criticised by several EU countries, including Britain, that are worried about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia. The United States has also disapproved. London has led a pushback against the EU list in past days, and at closed-door meetings urged the exclusion of Saudi Arabia,

On 13th February the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution that would end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, as many lawmakers sought to push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy towards the kingdom. Democrats and Republicans reintroduced the war powers resolution three weeks ago as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and condemn the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yemen’s almost four-year war has killed tens of thousands of people, collapsed the economy and brought millions of people to the brink of famine. The United States has supported the Saudi-led air campaign against the people of Yemen with mid-air refuelling support, intelligence and targeting assistance.

To pre-empt the people’s preparations to mark the eighth anniversary of the 14th February Revolution, the Khalifi regime escalated its repression, arrests and intimidation. During the two days of these protests more than 50 native Bahrainis were detained and taken to unknown torture chambers. Most areas witnessed demonstrations, protests, road closures and visits to martyrs graveyards. Homes were raided in the towns of Daih, Karbabad, Karranah, Abu Saiba and Malikiya. The Khalifi hereditary dictators have detained two children aged 13 after being charged with “illegal gathering”. They were remanded in custody after they were severely beaten and abused. Hussain Radhi Abualla and Ali Hussain Abdul Wahab, from Al Musalla town had taken part in the anti-regime protests marking the 8th anniversary of the 14th February Revolution.

There were active events including protests at Alkhalifa embassies in several countries, including London, Berlin and Dublin. There were hearing sessions at several parliaments including those of UK, Ireland, Italy, The European Parliament in Brussels and the US Congress.

In the aftermath of the Hakeem Al Oraibi’s saga, there is now a new mood of activism in the athletic world against the Khalifi regime. The ordeal of the native Bahraini athlete has opened the file of the ill-treatment of Bahraini athletes in 2011. A global coalition of athletes, rights activists and fans, including Australian football star Craig Foster, mobilized alongside FIFA, football’s governing body, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to urge Bahrain to drop its case and Thailand to let al-Araibi return to Australia. Both bodies issued strong statements publicly calling for al-Araibi’s release, and FIFA’s head of sustainability and diversity, Federico Addiechi, even attended al-Araibi’s extradition hearing in Bangkok. These bodies have now vowed to take up the case of more than 150 Bahraini athletes who had been subjected to horrific treatment including torture. Tomorrow Bahrain’s case will be taken to the European Parliament at Luxemburg. Several MEPs will protestthe detention of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and all jailed human rights defenders in Bahrain.

Yesterday regime’s courts issued oppressive judgments of jail sentences ranging between 5 years and life, and revocation of citizenship of 25 natives. These include three from Al Ekr Town and one from Daih: Fadhel Jaffar Rabe’i. This is one of the highest number of this distasteful and shameful revenge.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

20th February 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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