Today is the first anniversary of the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. On 2nd October 2018 he was murdered and dismembered at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul by a 15-member team. They were dispatched from Riyadh in private jets on orders from top leaders. It is now assumed that the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) had given the orders to his lieutenants to carry out the gruesome murder. The world reacted angrily as Khashoggi’s fiancé, Khadija Jenkiz became the first source of information and focus of emotional mobilisation. She was with him when he went to the Consulate to organise his official papers, but she stayed outside, and raised the alarm when he failed to come out several hours later. Yet, the American president had set the tone for no action against the blatant killers who exploited the diplomatic privileges to carry out their most heinous crime. As all the fingers pointing to him, MBS attempted to dodge the issue last week in a carefully-arranged way arguing that he is responsible for everything in Saudi Arabia and that his ministers carry out their duties without consulting with him in everything. But in an interview with Reuters yesterday, Agnes Callamard, U.N. expert on summary executions, attributed his remarks to a “strategy of rehabilitation in the face of public outrage around the world”. “He is creating a distance between himself (and the crime), he is exonerating himself from direct criminal responsibility in the killing. He is creating layers, and layers and layers of actors and institutions which are protecting him from his direct accountability for the killing.”
A group of 19 rights organizations said Saudi Arabia is trying to return business as usual by hosting the G-20 summit and the famous Dakar Rally in 2020. The group added that the return of business would mean that Khashoggi died in vain. They noted that hundreds of activists who were detained, tortured and executed in Riyadh will not have a chance to attract global attention. Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s fiancée also pointed out the same issue saying the Saudi crown prince, by accepting responsibly for the journalist’s killing, is trying to make the world look away. She noted that Mohammad bin Salman is using a general tactic to silence the case and calm the media. Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist and critic of the kingdom, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.
It is ironic that the Saudis have not ceased the criminal persecution of both their people and the people of Yemen against whom they have waged a war of annihilation. On 15th September a court in Riyadh issued harsh sentence against two scholars from the Eastern Province. Sayed Jaffar Hussain Al Alawi from Safwa Town and Sheikh Mohammad Hassan Zain Al Din from Sayhat were sentenced to nine years imprisonment and a similar period of travel ban. On 29th September security forces used heavy military vehicles to storm the house of Ahmad Hussain Al Redwan of Umm Al Hamam town, a social activist, and led him to an unknown destination. The house was ransacked, the family terrified. Four others were also detained in house raids: Mohammad and Ali Al Atiyya, Ibrahim Al Yahya and Hussain Al Marhoon.
To underline the threat posed by MBS to ordinary Saudis Congressman Gerry Connolly has introduced a bill at the Congress that calls for the protection of Saudi dissidents in the US. This is a significant milestone in the Saudi saga that has destabilized the region and put the lives of political and human rights activists at risk.
In a serious development in Bahrain, skin diseases have spread among the inmates of the Dry Dock prison. Those who were infected have been transferred to the isolation wing instead of hospitals for treatment.
International calls have been issued for the release of Bahraini human rights defenders. Senator Jim McGovern of the US Congress said: “I am again calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab, a Bahraini prisoner of conscience. He was arrested, convicted and imprisoned simply for criticizing the government of Bahrain’s record on human rights. We will not stop speaking out until he is free.”
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has sent a letter to Bahrain’s dictator to protest the continuing detention and deteriorating health of Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, a Bahraini professor of engineering sentenced to life in prison after takingpart in the anti-regime protests in February 2011.Theletter, signed by MESA’s president, Judith Tucker said: We reiterate our call on your government to provide Dr. Al-Singace the medical care he requires and ensure that he is no longer subjected to degrading, humiliating, and inhumane treatment. In addition, we urge you to review the prison sentences of all those who have been jailed merely because they voiced a dissenting opinion and ensure that Bahrain upholds international standards of freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
Bahrain Freedom Movement