ARTICLE

America places the Gulf on war footing; dictators escalate repression

The Gulf region is under intensive pressure as the people await the anticipated ugly consequences of the American state terrorism. The reckless act by the American president, ordering the assassination of ten Iraqi and Iranian officials has been condemned by decent people the world over. On Thursday night (2nd January 2020) an American drone fired two missiles and hit two cars as they were leaving Baghdad Airport. The ten occupants including the two most prominent military figures, General Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al Mohandis were killed instantly. The world erupted in disbelief, anger and fear. This blatant attack amounted to state terrorism that could lead to major military conflict in the region. The American president threatened more “disproportionate” attacks if Iran sought revenge for its slain commander. Last night the Iranians fired 22 missiles at two American bases in Iraq. No fatalities have so far been reported.

Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. said the American attack had violated international law. When the US foreign secretary, Pompeo challenged her assessment she silenced him with five reasons why the action he had engineered was unlawful. Human Rights Watch described the threats by Trump to destroy Iran’s cultural heritage and to carry out “disproportionate” response to any Iranian reprisal attack as “war crimes”.

As the world awaits the possible flare-up of military confrontations, the Saudi, Emirati and khalifi rulers are bracing themselves for possible annihilation, having contributed financially, logistically and politically to Trump’s hawkish anti-Iran policy. Despite this, the Saudis have continued their own unlawful attacks on civilians in the Eastern Province. Yesterday, their security forces using armed vehicles fired randomly at houses and people. Gun shooting was also heard as the Saudis prepared for possible uprising against their dictatorship, extra-judicial killings and executions.

Today Bahrain’s khalifi High Criminal Court of Appeals has upheld the death sentences of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa. Both men were convicted in an unfair trial that used evidence obtained through their torture. Their cases have been highlighted by many NGOs and parliamentarians. The original death sentence was rejected after it became clear that the khalifis had lied to a British official about the case and the notorious dictator Hamad Alkhalifa ordered a retrial. The same evidence that had been extracted under torture was re-used and the same verdict has now been issued on orders from the dictator’s office. He may still try to win back some people by not signing the death decree although he is known for his cruelty, viciousness and bloodymindedness. The UK government can still order him not to carry out the criminal decision to continue murdering native Bahrainis.

On 7th January, Mohammad Ramadan whose death sentence has been upheld today, wrote a column in The Metro newspaper. He said: While most people begin the new year with optimism, I am facing a death sentence in my country, Bahrain. There are two sorts of ‘justice’ in Bahrain: the performance put on in courtrooms, and the retribution dispensed behind closed doors. I have been condemned to die many times in dark cells, by state security officers, for simply standing up for democracy. Now a judge could make the death sentence official despite me not having committed a crime. My torturers told me as much. ‘We are the ones who determine the verdict,’ they said, as they beat me. They revealed they were waiting for the right case, so they could frame me, as punishment for joining pro-democracy demonstrations. That I was a security officer myself, at Bahrain International Airport, made it worse that I had joined the marches. ‘This is what we do to traitors,’ they said.

On 3rd January the khalifi dictators summoned several native Bahrainis for tweeting against the American attack at Baghdad airport. Among them were Fatima Al Hawwaj (lawyer), Aqeel Swar (columnist and Nader Abdul Emam (activits). In the “kingdom of silence” no one is allowed to express an opinion different from that dictated by the khalifi despots.

On 2nd January the American Herald Tribune published an article titled: Bahrain: Prisoners’ health neglected as a form of reprisal. It said: The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, aka Mandela Rules, stresses on the prisoners’ right to receive treatment in specialized hospitals. Nevertheless, Bahrain arbitrarily withholds medication for prisoners as a form of reprisal; it denies them medical treatment, prevents them from referring to specialists and fails to disclose their tests result.  For at least four months, hundreds of Bahraini inmates have been appealing for international action over a scabies outbreak that has been plaguing in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison amid deliberate medical negligence and worsening sanitary conditions.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

8th January 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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