STATEMENTS

US, UK pressed on Yemen war, hunger strikes at Bahrain’s jails

On Saturday Saudi jets bombed a school in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, killing at least 13 children and wounding 83, many of them seriously. The mutilated bodies of the girls intensified the anger as the Ra’ei school was reduced to rubble. The crime has shaken the world and calls were immediately made for special war crime tribunal for Yemen to be established. Calls were also made for UK to stop arming the Saudis as their crimes in Yemen have become a daily occurrence. Yesterday the Court of Appeal in London began hearing a landmark appeal brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) against the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade challenging the government’s ongoing failure to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.  The hearing will take place over 3 days and could impact on the sale of billions of pounds worth of weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and which have contributed to what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On Thursday 4th April, the US Congress approved a measure to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s bloody war led by Saudi Arabia, in yet another harsh rebuke of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Trump is expected to veto the measure, which passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. Thursday’s 247-175 vote marks the first time in history that a War Powers resolution will reach the president’s desk. The effort was a top priority for House Democrats after they took control in January amid a worsening humanitarian crisis on the ground in Yemen. It also reflects broad dissatisfaction on Capitol Hill with Trump’s foreign policy — in particular, his posture toward Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The US has struck at least $68.2bn worth of deals for firearms, bombs, weapons systems, and military training with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since the start of their war in Yemen – billions more than previously reported – according to data collected by an American think tank Security Assistance Monitor (SAM)

In an attempt to shield Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) and draw a line on who had ordered the liquidation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US Secretary of State yesterday publicly designated 16 Saudi individuals for their roles in the crimei: Saud al-Qahtani, Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubaigy, Meshal Albostani, Naif Alarifi, Mohammed Alzahrani, Mansour Abahussain, Khalid Alotaibi, Abdulaziz Alhawsawi, Waleed Alsehri, Thaar Alharbi, Fahad Albalawi, Badr Alotaibi, Mustafa Almadani, Saif Alqahtani and Turki Alsehri. These designations were made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2019 (Section 7031(c)). Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. The law requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials.

The total number of citizens detained by Saudi security forces since 4th April has reached 13. Yesterday photographer, Redha AlBoori was arrested by regime’s forces.  Other arrests include: two US citizens: Salah al-Haidar, Aziza al-Yousef’s son and Bader al-Ibrahim, writer and physician, Moqbel al-Saqqar, Abdulla al-Shehri, Anas al-Mazrou, Mohammed al-Sadiq, writer, Thumar al-Marzouqi writer,  Khadijah al-Harbi (feminist writer, and wife of Thumar al-Marzouqi),  Fahad Abalkhail 7. Abdullah al-Duhailan.

The conditions at Bahrain’s Dry Dock prison have deteriorated further in the past few months as a result of serious lack of sanitation, overcrowding and denial of medical care. The latest trauma is the spread of skin diseases at an alarming rate. Several native detainees have been transferred to solitary confinement. Inmates have been denied water to wash at Blocks 16 and 17. Supply of water is now confined to four hours between midnight and 4 am. No water is available at other times.

Yesterday Mr Ali Muhanna, a teacher, was snatched from Khalifi court after losing his appeal against an earlier verdict for taking part in the sit-in around Ayatullah Sheikh Isa Qassim two years ago. Few weeks after he had ended his hunger strike, Ali Hajji has begun an new hunger strike in protest at the decision by Khalifi prison officials to stop his medication and the special meal ordered by his doctors. Another inmate who also decided to go on hunger strike is the athlete, Mohammad Mirza demanding appropriate medical care. “ It takes very long months to see a doctor all this period I suffer without my medicines” he says. It is now widely known that medical care has become a weapon used by Khalifi dictators as a means of revenge against the natives.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

10th April 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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