STATEMENTS

HRW criticizes Saudi HR record, hunger strikes escalate at Bahrain’s prisons

On 4th November, Human Rights Watch published a report on Saudi Arabia titled “Change comes with punishing cost”. The New York-based group, in a 62-page report, said scores of people – including prominent Muslim scholars, women rights activists and members of the royal family – have been targeted since Prince Mohammed became the kingdom’s crown prince and de factor ruler in June 2017.  Soon after his elevation, authorities quietly moved to sideline anyone in Saudi Arabia who could stand in the way of his political ascension.  The campaign began with a purging of former security and intelligence officials and placing the country’s prosecution service and security apparatus under the royal court’s oversight, the HRW said. Saudi authorities then launched a series of arrest campaigns, beginning with the detention of 70 critics, including Muslim leaders, academics and intellectuals in September 2017. In November of the same year, at least 40 elite princes and businessmen were held – some for weeks – at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, in what was billed as a move against corruption that was draining state coffers.

Dr Abdullah Al Hamid, one of the founders of Hasm society who has spent over five years in Saudi jails is serving long prison sentence for civil stands that do not amount to a criminal activity including: forming un-registered body (HASM) and urging the public to call for change and addressing public gatherings. He was given nine years and ordered to pay large sum.

Saudi forces have stormed the house of Martyr Zahir AlBasri at Tarut town in the Eastern Province. The attackers used several armed vehicles. This is the second time that the martyr’s house had been stormed.

On 28th October the khalifi appeal courts in Bahrain rejected the appeals of the native prisoners in 101 cases, re-confirming the harsh sentences against innocent natives. The jail sentence on special need inmate Hani AlNajjar was upheld despite his need for specialist treatment.

In the police state the rule of law is replaced by the powers of the police which use them arbitrarily. They will enact their own rules that often lead to unrestricted oppression. This  is what is now taking place at Bahrain’s torture chambers. The natives are being subjected to most horrible treatment at the hands of the torturers who fear no retribution for their crimes. The hundreds of prisoners of conscience who had staged hunger strike in the past month have demanded basic rights but the British-trained officers continued to inflict pain and agony on them. Their demands are simple: provide us with the necessary medical care and medicine, remove the glass barriers during family visit and let us hug our children, mothers and relatives, bring back the weekly family visits that last one hour each time, allow us to have the necessary religious and educational books and stop draconian rules that aim at humiliating natives and exact revenge on them. Some prisoners were promised to have their demands fulfilled. The prisoners at Block 1 of Jaw prison have suspended their strike after they were promised to have their demands fulfilled. But others were subjected to horrible treatment. Ali Hajji who spent more than two months on hunger strike said he would continue his action for 100 days even if that meant he would lose his life. Political inmates at the notorious Jau prison have complained about the treatment by officers at Jau prison for refusing to provide medical care to them. They were protesting the delays in providing medical care, the cancellation of hospital appointments and refusal to provide emergency treatment. An inmate who had been on hunger strike for 20 days has been transferred to solitary confinement. Miqdad Al Jaziri, one of the hunger strikers had written on his shirt: On hunger strike against glass barriers.

The Facebook subsidiary WhatsUp has filed a legal case against the Israeli spy group NSO for helping the khalifi regime spy on opposition and HR figures. It said that spying programmes were sent to more than 1400 phone sets belonging to civil society activists including journalists, political and HR activists. The legal case aims at stopping NSO using its services. The spyware was sent to activists in Bahrain, UAE and Mexico.

Two women prisoners of conscience have issued an open statement, published by MS magazine, about their horrific treatment at the hands of khalifi torturers. Hajer Mansoor and Madina Ali describe in the statement the extent of abuse they are being subjected to for their peaceful opposition to the regime. Hajer described her illegal imprisonment with her nephew. She described how the jailers continue to torture her for the smallest of movements such as waiving to another detainee. Madina Ali described her ordeal that started when ISIS-style masked men snatched her from her car two years ago, threatened to rape her and her relatives and started physical torture. She was held up to 23 hours every day in her cell. But the worst of all is the constant psychological torture being separated from her children and the pain she feels when she is separated from them by glass barriers during the brief and distant family visits.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

6th November 2019 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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