STATEMENTS

UN accuses US, UK of Yemen war crimes, Persecution of Bahraini prisoners

The world has been shocked but remained quiet as yet another massive war crime was committed by the Saudi-Emiratie-khalifi alliance on a civilian target in Yemen. On 1st September more than 100 people were killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led military coalition on a detention centre in Yemen, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The attack had levelled a building holding prisoners. The ICRC rushed to the scene in the city of Dhamar with medical teams and hundreds of body bags. “The location that was hit has been visited by ICRC before,” said Franz Rauchenstein, the committee’s head of delegation for Yemen. “It’s a college building that has been empty and has been used as a detention facility for a while. What is most disturbing is that [the attack was] on a prison. To hit such a building is shocking and saddening – prisoners are protected by international law.” Rauchenstein said more than 100 people were estimated to be dead and at least 40 survivors were being treated for their injuries in hospitals in the city, south of the capital, Sana’a. The United Nations special envoy to Yemen condemned the attack. Martin Griffiths called the crime a “tragedy”. “The human cost of this war is unbearable,” he said. “We need it to stop… I hope the coalition will launch an inquiry into this incident. Accountability needs to prevail.”

The UK, US, France and others may be complicit in possible war crimes in Yemen over their support for parties to the conflict there, UN experts say. A new report warns the countries they could be held responsible for aiding or assisting the commission of violations. The Western powers provide weapons and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi’s government. For the first time UN experts compiled a list of 160 military officers and politicians who could face war crimes charges, including from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemeni groups.  A secret list of those most likely to be complicit has been sent to the UN. “This shocking report should act as a wake-up call to the UK government. It offers all the proof needed of the misery and suffering being inflicted on the people of Yemen by a war partly fuelled by UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other coalition members,” said Oxfam’s Yemen country director, Muhsin Siddiquey. The experts say both sides continue to commit violations with impunity. Their report documents air strikes on civilian infrastructure, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and the impeding of access to humanitarian aid in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has sought the death penalty against five human rights activists, including a prominent female rights defender. Among those accused of inciting protests by the Shiite Muslim minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province is Israa al-Ghomgham, the first female activist to possibly face the death penalty for her rights-related work. Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns said: “Sentencing Israa al-Ghomgham to death would send a horrifying message that other activists could be targeted in the same way for their peaceful protest and human rights activism,” Hadid said. “The charges against Ghomgham… are absurd and clearly politically motivated to silence dissent.”

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action to call on Bahrain’s dictator to order the immediate end of persecution of a former MP. It said: “Osama al-Tamimi, a former MP who has suffered continued harassment together with his family by security forces, suffered a stroke following his arrest on 6 August 2019, leading to his hospitalization. Following his release by the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) on 11 August 2019, Osama al-Tamimi attempted to leave Bahrain to Oman to seek medical care on 16 August 2019. The airport authorities did not allow him to board the plane, citing a travel ban. The police later summoned him to appear at the al-Hoora police station on 18 August 2019; as his health deteriorated further he was immediately transferred to hospital where he was diagnosed with renal failure.”

As native Bahraini prisoners of conscience continue their hunger protest more have joined them as the people raised their voices calling for their immediate and unconditional release. Veteran jailed hunger strikers; Ali Hajji and Naji Fateel began hunger strike on 1st September.  Ahmad Abdul Wasy, a hunger striker at the Isolation wing of the notorious Jau prison has confirmed that the strike is continuing despite the intensification by khalifi dictators of persecution and systematic repression. Many strikers have either collapsed or developed serious consequences without being given the necessary medical care or attention. Gross crimes against humanity are being committed against native Bahraini prisoners. Instead of heeding the calls for improvement of prison dire conditions, the dictator has ordered his torturers to stop native prisoners exercising their religious rights during Ashura to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain ibn Ali. For centuries before the khalifi occupation native Bahrainis had marked the occasion in their own ways until the present dictator decided to take away this right by force.

Concerns  are being raised about the fate of seven natives who were snatched two weeks ago by members of regime’s Death Squads from the town of Jid-hafs: The disappeared are: Hassan Kamel, Abdulla Al Jendhabari, Sayed Majeed Sayed Faisal, Hadi Al Esmalli, Hussain Abdul Rahim, Sayed Mohammad Anwar and Hassan Abdul Mahdi. Nothing is known what happened to them.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

4th September 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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