STATEMENTS

Saudis to behead under-aged boy, US Senators condemn Khalifi repression

An international outcry against the proposed beheading and crucifixion of a 10 year old Saudi boy has intensified the pressures on a regime intent on killing and murdering its people. Murtaja Al Qureiris from the Eastern Province has been condemned to death for protesting peacefully against the regime. He is now 18 but he was only 10 when he committed “the crime of protesting”. On 9th June Amnesty International issued a statement on the issue which said: We call on Saudi Arabia to not use the death penalty to punish a young man, arrested at 13. for participating in anti-government protests. It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offences that include taking part in protests while he was just 10 years old.

Last week Republican and Democratic U.S. senators said they would introduce legislation to block President Donald Trump’s plan for $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without congressional review. Backers said the introduction of the 22 “resolutions of disapproval,” one for each of the 22 arms deals cleared by the Trump administration, was intended to “protect and reaffirm Congress’ role of approving arms sales to foreign governments.” The announcement followed furious rejection in Congress late last month of the administration’s declaration that a growing threat from Iran was an emergency that forced it to sidestep lawmakers’ review of major arms deals and approve precision-guided munitions, aircraft engines, mortars and other equipment for Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan. “We are taking this step today to show that we will not stand idly by and allow the President or the Secretary of State to further erode Congressional review and oversight of arm sales,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been criticised for whitewashing the Khalifi regime’s human rights crimes. Its annual report has diminished the human rights deterioration in Bahrain in its 2018 report on human rights and democracy priorities, labelling it a “mixed picture of challenges and positive developments.” Similar labels were given in the 2017 and 2016 reports. It  neglects to document the numerous allegations of torture, ill-treatment and abuse of anti-regime activists, glosses over issues such as the rise in death penalty sentences and citizenship revocation, and ignores the crackdown on freedom of expression and reprisals against activists and human rights defenders. The FCO also omitted to comment on the deterioration of prison conditions in the country. The report praises dysfunctional oversight mechanisms which have been critisised extensively, most notably by the UN Committee Against Torture. It condemned the use of “widespread” torture in Bahrain while labelling the oversight bodies as being neither “effective” nor “independent”. With regards to the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman, specifically, Amnesty International highlighted in a report published in September 2018 that victims or their families had filed complaints with “no result” and that in cases where action had been taken by the Ombudsman, “its follow-up has been ineffective”.

After jailing him for two years, Khalifi dictators have banned a senior religious scholar from performing his duties. Few days ago Sayed Majeed Al Mesh’al was summoned by the torture apparatus and forced to sign an undertaking not to deliver religious sermons or lead prayers at Imam Sadiq Mosque in Duraz. The mosque has been without an Imam for more than two years. His long-standing Imam, Ayatullah Sheikh Isa Qassim was banished from the country last year after spending two years under house siege which was ended only after five native Bahrainis were butchered by regime’s forces.

This year Bahrainis marked the Eid Day (at the end of Ramadan) with a mixture of defiance of the regime and sadness at the plight of the country and its faithful youth. On Wednesday 5th June many people visited the graveyards to recite Quran for the souls of the martyrs. One martyr stood out for remembrance. Ali Jawad Al Sheikh was killed by regime’s forces on 31st August 2011 which was Eid Day. Not only have his killers been spared justice, but his father has been languishing in jail for the past three years for demanding that his son’s killers be brought to justice. Journalist Jaffar Al Jamri has been charged by Khalifi “kingdom of silence” for his tweets that are incompatible with their policies. Yesterday he appeared at a Khalifi “court” (commonly known as revenge centres) where his trial was postponed until 25th June.

A seminar at US Congress in Washington yesterday on the political crisis in Bahrain was addressed by prominent figures like Senator Jim McGovern and Senator Ilhan Omar. Senator McGovern said that he had adopted the case of Nabeel Rajab within his capacity as a member of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. He said Mr Rajab’s detention is “unconscionable”.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

12th June 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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