STATEMENTS

Trump vetoes resolution on arming Saudis, nationality of Bahrainis revoked

There has been an angry reaction to Trump’s veto of a resolution passed by Congress to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Yesterday’s veto — the second in Trump’s presidency — was expected, and Congress lacks the votes to override it. But passing the never-before-used war powers resolution was viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties. Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival. Many lawmakers also criticized the president for not condemning Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the US and had written critically about the Saudi household.

Last week Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Rights Watch UK joined a fresh legal challenge to the UK’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The three organisations are intervening in a case brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) at the Court of Appeal in London seeking to challenge the legality of the UK Government’s decision to issue licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, despite the risk of the weapons being used for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the conflict. The case was originally heard by the High Court in February 2017, with CAAT arguing that arms transfers to Saudi Arabia should be halted because of the clear risk that the weapons supplied would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. However, the court dismissed CAAT’s case, that the UK was entitled to continue arms exports to Saudis.

Yesterday, the Washington Post titled its editorial “Saudi Arabia’s reckless prince fuels yet another civil war”. It said: What prompted Mr. Hifter to conclude he should seek military victory rather than compromise? … His offensive has been egged on and materially supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. These Arab governments and Russia have deliberately sabotaged an international effort that had the support of the European Union, the African Union and the United States, in addition to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres. The editorial concluded: “Mr. Trump often complains of U.S. clients who accept Washington’s aid and protection, only to take advantage of its fecklessness. Should he care to look, he could find an excellent example of that unfolding in Libya.”

Yesterday the human rights world was shaken to the core when UK-backed Khalifi torturers announced that they had revoked the nationality of 138 native Bahrainis. The court sentenced 69 of the group to life in prison. 70 were sentenced to between three years and 10 years imprisonment. Close to 100 Bahrainis were fined roughly $265,000 each. The group was labeled as “Hezbollah Bahrain.” The Khalifi authoritarian hereditary rule has distorted the facts in order to attract Western sympathy. The use of “Hezbullah” and “Revolutionary Guards” is intended to justify the crackdown as the two names have been smeared by Donald Trump. These outrageous lies are used to justify the severe crackdown on anti-regime activists.

Amnesty International said Tuesday’s verdict “makes a mockery of justice” and “demonstrates how Bahrain’s authorities are increasingly relying on revocation of nationality as a tool for repression.” In another recent mass trial in February, 167 people were convicted, primarily for participation in a non-violent sit-in, said Amnesty. In May of last year, 115 people were stripped of their citizenship following a single trial with the sentences upheld on appeal.Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said: “Today’s trial makes a mockery of justice and confirms an alarming pattern of convictions after unfair mass trials in Bahrain. She added: “This trial also demonstrates how Bahrain’s authorities are increasingly relying on revocation of nationality as a tool for repression – around 900 people have now been stripped of their citizenship since 2012. Maalouf further added: “Arbitrarily stripping people of their citizenship and rendering citizens stateless are blatant violations of international law. Bahrain’s authorities must immediately stop relying on these unlawful measures as punishment.”

Meanwhile illegal attacks on homes of native Bahrainis have continued. On 11th April, a house at the town of Samaheej was raided by ISIS-style men and two youths were detained. Ahmad Oun and his brother, Abbas were taken by members of Khalifi torture apparatus to Samaheej police station, then to the prosecutor’s office before being dumped at the notorious Dry Dock prison.

On Thursday 11th April, native Bahraini woman activist, Hadeer Abadi was remanded in custody by Khalifi court for thirty days. This is the fourth time that Mrs Abadi was given one month jail without due process of law. She had already spent 90 days without charge. Among the reasons for her continued incarceration is her terrible physical and psychological wounds sustained under severe torture to force her to sign uncorroborated false “confessions”.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

17th April 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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