STATEMENTS

40th anniversary of documented torture in Bahrain

as Saudis start building “blood city”

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first documented use of torture by the Bahraini regime. On 9th May 1980, the body of young native citizen, Jamil Al Ali, 22 was snatched from Sulaimaniya Hospital morgue by angry protesters. News had circulated that he had died under torture several days after his detention on 26th April. Within two weeks Jamil had succumbed to horrific death as he was being tortured with electric drills, irons and cigarettes. The images shot by the angry youth became the first authentication of the horrors of the khalifi regime, implemented under the guidance of the notorious colonial officer, Ian Henderson. For the past four decades hundreds of torture images of victims were collected to confirm that the khalifi dictatorship has sustained a reign of terror based on extreme forms of torture. The irony is that these heinous crimes, despite their authentication, are tolerated by regime’s unwavering supporters in Whitehall and Capitol Hill.

Torture has since remained alive and rampant in Bahrain’s prisons. This is authenticated by solid evidence emerging from behind bars. Last week inmate Hassan Al Mutawwa was tortured, by one of his jailers as prison cameras recorded the crime. Families of political prisoners are extremely worried for the welfare of their children whose phone calls (in lieu of face-to-face visitations) stopped for the past six days. This is particularly concerning especially for the inmates of blocks 12,13 and 14 of the old building of the notorious Jaw prison and blocks 22 and 23 of the new buildings. Ali Sanqoor has lost 95 percent of his hearing and is using sign language to communicate. The mother of Ali Hussain Al Fardan has appealed for his release as he suffers sickle cell ailment and has drifted into dangerous phase of disease. He suffers deformed back joints, deformed legs and colon inflammation. Another inmate Ali Hussain Ali Habib Al Fardan suffers numerous ailments and his family has called for his release. These calls have fallen on deaf ears.

On 28th April the Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a special report titled “Bahrain prisons: Is there a solution?”. It is a study of the conditions of Bahrain’s prisons from 2011 to 2020 and includes a commentary on the violated rights of prisoners, the most dangerous of which is the denial of treatment. It also reviews examples of health neglect in Bahrain’s prisons and includes 18 pages detailing the dire conditions inside

Last week Professor Tom Collins, former Head of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in Bahrain, said “all medics, all over the world, should call on regimes to grant political dissenters an amnesty.” Adding:  “Prisoners not just in Bahrain, but in any political prison in any place in the world, right now are being placed in danger by being in prison, in a level that they will be exposed to a danger that they should not be exposed to.”  “I think in Bahrain we have to recognize, that is primarily a political issue, as how the issue of COVID-19 is dealt with, in the prisons and possibly outside the prisons,” he stated. “This has to be questioned.”

To mark the World’s Press Day on 3rd May,  One Free Press Coalition launched the 15th monthly “10 Most Urgent” list (ranked in order of urgency), calling for attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth. The third on the list is Bahraini journalist Mahmoud al-Jaziri. The Coalition said that he is “imprisoned reporter punished for telling media about inmates’ coronavirus fears. Mahmoud al-Jaziri was moved to solitary confinement on April 8 in retaliation for an audio clip that had surfaced on dissident-run media channel Bahrain Today3 in which he disputed reports that Bahraini authorities had taken measures to protect prisoners from the spread of COVID-19. A reporter for the now-defunct independent newspaper Al-Wasat, the last of the country’s independent newspapers, Al-Jaziri has been imprisoned since December 2015 on a 15-year sentence on trumpeted charges of belonging to a “terrorist group.”

On 4th May Amnesty International called for the immediate and unconditional release of all the prisoners of conscience it is campaigning for worldwide, who are now at heightened risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “As this devastating virus sweeps across the globe, prisons are at risk of becoming dangerous hotspots for COVID-19. It is more important than ever that states take urgent measures to protect all those who are behind bars, including by releasing all individuals who are held simply for peacefully exercising their rights,” said Sauro Scarpelli, Deputy Campaigns Director at Amnesty International. “Prisoners of conscience have not committed a crime, and yet they continue to be arbitrarily detained in conditions that are now becoming increasingly perilous. The overcrowding and lack of sanitation in many prisons around the world make it impossible for detainees to take preventive steps against the disease, such as physical distancing and regular hand washing. Their unjustified detention is putting them at heightened risk.”

Swiss investigation into the activity of an institution accused of money laundering has revealed that King of Bahrain had given former King of Spain 1.7 Million Euros. The newspaper reported that the father of Spain’s current king, Felipe VI, gave the cash-filled suitcase to his consultant, Arturo Fasana. El País reported that Fasana told Swiss public prosecutor Yves Bertossa – whilst testifying in October 2018 – that the handover of the cash took place in 2010, and that he had subsequently deposited it in Switzerland’s Mirabaud bank.

Bankers and analysts have suggested that Bahrain may need more financial aid from fellow Gulf Arab states as soon as this year but its wealthier neighbours could themselves be hamstrung by low oil prices and the economic impact of the new coronavirus. Bahrain, rated junk by major credit rating agencies, in 2018 received a $10 billion aid package over five years from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to help it avoid a credit crunch in a deal tied to fiscal reform. “Our estimates point to Bahrain needing additional funding in 2020 from the $10 billion support package they got in 2018,” said Sara Grut, emerging market strategist at Goldman Sachs. The regime has continued plundering people’s wealth on lavish lifestyles by khalifi members.

The death of Saudi citizen Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti on 13 April highlighted the tension between the tribe and the  development plans proposed by Mohammad bin Salman.. A resident of the town of Khuraibat, he had become the face of the tribes’ criticism of their forced eviction, voicing complaints in videos posted to social media, and appearing in others’ videos. One piece of footage showed him confronting a Saudi official who visited the town to speak with residents. Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti posted videos online alerting the world that Saudi security forces were trying to evict him to build the what is now known as the “blood city” of Neom. Also the death in jail two weeks ago of Dr Abdullah Al Hamid has turned the tide against the Saudi regime inside the country and outside. Pressures are now mounting on MBS to release political prisoners especially women activists, end executions and embark on serious political reforms.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

6th May 2020 (info@vob.orgwww.vob.org)

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