STATEMENTS

Whitewashing Saudi crimes, challenging khalifis with empty stomachs

An article by Eden Gillespie titled “The Instagram influencers hired to rehabilitate Saudi Arabia’s image” was been published by The Guardian on 11th October. It said Social media stars have been taking paid trips to the kingdom and posting lavish praise in return – avoiding its troubling human rights record. A year on from the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is using social media influencers, including some Australians, to repair its damaged image. On Instagram, blonde, blue-eyed women wearing abayas in the dusty landscape beckon millions of followers to rethink their perception of Saudi Arabia. The country has employed the public relations company Gateway KSA, of which Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud is an executive member, as one method of bringing social media personalities to the country on all-expenses paid, supervised trips. Dr Raihan Ismail, an associate lecturer at the centre for Arab and Islamic studies at the Australian National University, says Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars to reform its image in the west. “The Saudi government is investing so much in trying to reconstruct its image, particularly after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey,” she says. “I think that’s when people started to realise that we’re dealing with an authoritarian regime. We’re dealing with a state that is so repressive.”

Amnesty International is launching a week of global action for the release of  human rights defender  Ahmed Mansoor? It said that more than 130 organizations had signed a joint letter calling on the United Arab Emirates UAE to free Ahmed. Protests will take place in New York, Washington, Toronto, London and Brussels.

Amnesty International Australia has issued disturbing information about links to the case of Hakeem Al Oraibi who had been detained in Thailand last year. It said that (freedom of information) FOI documents reveal Australian officials endangered Hakeem’s safety and ultimately risked his life when they told Bahrain, the country he fled from, that he was travelling. FOI documents raise serious concerns over Australian Government’s role in detention of Hakeem. Freedom of information documents finally released after nine months illustrate how shambolic communication and a culture of punishment before protection within the Home Affairs Department put Hakeem al-Araibi’s life at risk

Lord Scriven has called on Formula 1 car racing management to re-instate Bahraini native woman activist, Najah Yousuf. She had spent almost two years behind bars for calling on the F1 to stop its race in Bahrain whose government has been conducting heinous human rights crimes. He also called for her compensation. Lord Scriven has also pledged to take up the case of the hunger strikes in Bahraini prisons so that the FCO exercises its human and political responsibility to tame one of its closest allies and stop his crimes.

In a disturbing development native Bahraini political prisoners at the notorious Jau prison have started a new hunger strike after the khalifi torturers reneged on earlier promises to improve the conditions at the torture chambers. More than 120 prisoners had threatened to start another strike if their demands for proper medical care, family visits, books and sanitation conditions were not met. At the Isolation Wing of Jau prison where those sentenced to death are locked up, isolated from this world, at least 13 prisoners have been on hunger strike since last Thursday while at Block 13, the number of hunger strikers has reached 17 including the two human rights activists Ali Haji and Naji Fateel.

Two inmates who had been sentenced to death by khalifi regime have collapsed several times after a week of hunger strike. The wife of Mr Mohammad Ramadan has reported that he is unable to speak, exhausted and suffers a lot of pain. His colleague Moosa Abdulla suffers very low sugar level and intermittent coma. The officer in charge, a Yemeni called Ahmad Jarraf had given orders not to transfer them to hospitals. The family of another prisoner of conscience, Hussain Al Sahlawi, is extremely concerned for his health after two weeks with no contact or visit. A scheduled family visit yesterday was cancelled by the khalifi torturers.

In the week 7-13 October at least six native Bahrainis were detained by regime’s forces and transferred to unknown destinations. At least two protests during the week were repressed.

On 15th October, The Guardian reported that two former Conservative prime ministers lobbied a Middle Eastern royal family to award a multibillion-dollar oil contract to a company headed by a major Tory donor, the Guardian has established. In March 2017, while in Downing Street, Theresa May wrote to the Bahraini prime minister to support the oil firm Petrofac while it was bidding to win the contract from the Gulf state. Two months earlier, and just six months after stepping down as prime minister, David Cameron promoted the company during a two-day visit to Bahrain where he met the state’s crown prince. Cameron was flown back to Britain on a plane belonging to Ayman Asfari, Petrofac’s co-founder, chief executive and largest shareholder. Petrofac did not ultimately win the contract.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

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

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