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Anger at Saudi fuel rises, Bahrainis marked Revolution Day with vigour

A wave of anger is sweeping through Saudi Arabia following the imposition of higher fuel prices. The price of petrol 91 octanes is SAR 1.55 ($0.41) per litre up from SAR 1.50 ($0.4) per litre in the previous quarter, while petrol 95 octanes will be SAR 2.11 ($0.56) per litre up from SAR 2.05 ($0.55). Aramco has stopped updating oil prices quarterly and said it would update the prices on the 10th of every month, despite the fact that oil prices are decreasing globally. Saudis, who turned to social media to share their opinion, considered it unreasonable as it is an extension of a series of price hikes and taxes which started in 2017 when the 2030 vision was announced. A litre of petrol now costs more than half a dollar, three times the price two years ago. The price hike comes at a time of accumulating economic and political pressures on the regime which has been plundering the country’s wealth at unprecedented rates. Social media has been used to vent off the public anger as people accused the regime of corruption, deception and indifference towards the poor people’s plight. Similar rises were imposed two years ago on electricity supplies. Subsidies of essential food items are also being removed.

After much pressure from the human  rights world the Saudi regime was forced to reduce the sentence it had imposed on a minor. On 12thFebruary Murtaja Al Qureris had the 12-year sentence passed on him in June 2019 reduced to 8 years. The public prosecutor had called for his execution for taking part in anti-regime protests several years ago. Human rights bodies have called for pressure on the Saudi authorities to quash all charges against him.

Saudi activist Mrs Nassima al-Sadah, a mother of three from the Eastern Province has been transferred from Mabahith prison in Dammam to Riyadh, where her trial session is due today. She has been detained since July 2018 without charge or trial. Mrs Al Sadah has been in solitary confinement for the past 14 months for being one of the women who called for driving permission to be granted to women.

Yesterday the second session of the trial of  al-Abbas Hassan al-Maliki was held in Riyadh. He was arrested in September 2017 for tweeting about his jailed father, Sheikh Hassan Farhan Al Maliki, who himself, had committed any offence except calling for political reforms. The third hearing in the trial of al-Abbas Hasan al-Maliki has been set for Tuesday 17 March.

Last week the 9th anniversary of Bahrain’s Revolution was marked by the people inside and outside the country. At least 71 activities including protests, demonstrations and road blocks were held in many areas including Manama, Sitra, Nuwaidrat, Bilad Al Qadeem, Al Musalla, Daih, Kerranah, AlShakhoura, Abu Saiba, Barbar and Karbabad. This is despite the pre-emptive aggressive measures implemented by the khalifi dictators to stop people participating in those activities. Outside Bahrain, there were activities in at least 17 cities; London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Luxemborg, Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin and New York. In London several events were held, protests outside Bahrain and Saudi embassies and Downing Street. A seminar and press briefing was held at the House of Lords, addressed by political and human rights activists.

Meanwhile, a member of the House of Lords has blasted Huddersfield University boss, Prof Bob Cryan, as “unprofessional” and “rude” after he ignored his plea to sever ties with Bahraini dictators. Lord Scriven had complained that the university has been training officers for the khalifi regime, some of whom have been involved in serious torture crimes. At least ten native Bahrainis have testified that they had been tortured at the notorious Royal Police Academy that the University is involved in. The Masters course in Security Science involves lecturers training Bahraini police officers in crime investigation techniques. It was launched in 2018 when Prince Andrew, then Huddersfield University’s Chancellor, visited Bahrain to meet some of the officers participating in the course and senior Government ministers. Bahrain’s police force has been accused of brutality, torture and even state sponsored murder, prompting human rights activists to lobby organisations that conduct business with Bahrain’s vicious dictators.

Following the successful campaign to mark the 9thanniversary of the Bahraini Revolution, the regime has embarked one more arrests and detentions. Mohammad Ali AlJaziri, brother of Martyr Hussain Al Jaziri was arrested on 14th February near his grandfather’s house in Daih town. Following extensive torture he was remanded in custody for a week which is likely to result in lengthy prison sentence.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

19th February 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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