The Unites States has been criticized by political and human rights activists for its continued support to three GCC regimes despite their continued aggression on Yemen. The US has moved ahead with part of a THAAD missile defense system sale to Saudi Arabia. Bahrain has been given the nod for various weapons to support its F-16 Block 70/F-16V aircraft fleet for an estimated cost of $750 million. That package included 32 AIM-9X missiles, 20 AGM-84 Block II Harpoon missiles and 100 GBU-39s which are 250-pound small diameter bombs and other munitions. Bahrain could also potentially buy various Patriot missile systems and related support and equipment for an estimated cost of $2.48 billion. That potential Bahraini deal included 36 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles known as GEM-T, an upgrade that can shoot down aircraft and cruise missiles. In a third State Department notification, the United Arab Emirates was given potential approval for $2.73 billion worth of Patriot missiles and related equipment including 452 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missiles Segment Enhanced (MSE) and related equipment.
In London a petition has been circulated for signatures by the public, titled: Stop UK complicity in the Coalitions’ war on Yemen. The aim is to increase the pressure on Theresa May’s government to withdraw British support to the Saudi-led aggression in Yemen. The petition which has been published on the Parliament’s website calls to: Stop, or make all future weapons exports to coalition countries subject to ending of the bombing campaign and rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure; and Make all activities of any on-the-ground UK experts maintaining weapon systems subject to Whitehall and Westminster scrutiny.
A Saudi lawyer who had defended some of the 37 victims who were beheaded by the Saudi regime last month has fled to Europe and sought refuge in Germany. He said that those who were executed did not get justice but were forced to sign trumped confessions under torture. Taha Al Haj was contacted by a Saudi official who assured him of safe return. But he said he did not want to meet the same fate as Khashoggi.
A political commentator who criticized the Saudi regime has been told by the CIA that he was on Saudi hit list and could face similar fate to that of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was dismembered six months ago at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Iyad Al Baghdadi has been taken away from his home in Norway and placed under official protection. Fear is rising among members of the Saudi and Bahraini diaspora that the regimes ruling their countries are losing patience with the continued exposure of their crimes and may have decided to adopt violent means against their critics in Europe, Ten years ago the Bahraini regime’s agents attacked several opposition figures in London, but the UK government did not take any action against their Khalifi ally in Manama.
A woman with terminal cancer who was serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates has died in jail, two months after the UN called for her release on medical grounds. In February UN human rights experts called on UAE authorities to release Alia Abdulnoor to live her final days at home and said they were concerned about reports that she was suffering degrading treatment, including being chained to a bed under armed guard. Abdulnoor was sentenced in 2017 to ten years in prison after being convicted of charges including financing terrorist groups. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after her arrest in 2015.
In Bahrain the Khalifi regime’s courts have confirmed the death sentence on two native Bahrainis for opposing its dictatorship. Ali Al Arab and Ahmad Al Malali had been condemned to death on false charges based on false confessions extracted under extreme forms of torture. They had pleaded their innocence repeatedly but to no avail.
A Bahraini court has refused to grant the jailed human rights activist Nabeel Rajab a non-custodial sentence instead of the jail terms he is currently serving, his lawyer, Mohamed Al Jishi said this week. Rajab, who played a prominent role in pro-democracy protests in 2011, was handed a five-year jail sentence and a two-year sentence for publicly criticising the regime and its ally Saudi Arabia. Last year Rajab was sentenced over social media posts criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing authorities of torture. Amnesty International has described Rajab as a “prisoner of conscience”.
In honour of World Press Freedom Day PEN International has, once again, taken up the case of Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace, a blogger and human rights activist. He is serving a life sentence in Bahrain for peaceful free expression. Al-Singace requires specialist treatment for health problems, some of which result from torture in prison. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will also highlight Al Singace’s case.
Bahrain Freedom Movement