STATEMENTS

Skin disease adds to Covid-19 scare in Bahraini jails

Skin disease is fast spreading among Bahraini political prisoners as the conditions inside the khalifi torture chambers continue to deteriorate. Tens of inmates at Bloc 17 of the notorious Jaw Prison have developed serious skin diseases. They suffer acute itching that often lead to bleeding. Their condition worsens when they try to sleep. Despite their pleas for medical care prison officials have insisted on denying native prisoners proper medical care. This new development adds to the grave concern for the well-being of the political prisoners as more cases of Covid-19 are reported on daily basis, inside jails and among the citizens. Political prisoner Jassim Ahmad Mansoor has been denied dental treatment for two years despite suffering excruciating pain in his teeth. It is a form of torture that the khalifi regime continues to inflict on native Bahraini political detainees. Last Thursday, Jassim called his family to inform them of his deteriorating condition. He said he could not tolerate the pain any longer. As enemies of the native Bahrainis the kahlifi torturers have always enjoyed inflicting pain on them.

On 30th May the rating agency Standard & Poor presented a gloomy picture of Bahrain’s economic prospects. It said: Bahrain’s fiscal deficit is seen widening to 12% of GDP this year from 4.6% in 2019, largely due to lower oil prices. S&P said it expected the small Gulf country’s economy to contract by 5 percent in 2020. Despite these bleak prospects the regime has continued procuring arms as it prepares future attacks on the natives.

Few days ago, French Member of Parliament, Frederique Dumas wrote to the minister concerning the cases of several women political prisoners in Bahrain that endured serious sexual, psychological and physical abuses. The most prominent case that the MP addressed is that of Ebtisam al-Saegh. After voicing criticism of the government on social media in addition to her human rights activism Ebtesam was interrogated and subjected to hours of physical and sexual violence. She was eventually charged with “falsely using her human rights work as a cover to provide inaccurate information about Bahrain and undermine its international status”. She was then sentenced to three months in prison. Ms Dumasasked for clarifications about the actions that the French diplomatic corps is taking in order to put an end to these human rights abuses.

Political, academic, and human rights figures demanded the trial of the former Saudi intelligence officer Saad Al-Jabri for his human rights violations. In a joint statement they said that “under the present oppressive regime lives and property of people are robbed, individuals are detained for expressing their opinion, and serious opponents are killed“. In light of this unprecedented situation the issue of Saad al-Jabri, the first adviser to the former crown prince and interior minister Muhammad bin Nayef has surfaced after he sought asylum in Canada.”  According to the statement, al-Jabri was considered in the past two decades the architect of state terrorism under Muhammad bin Nayef. Jabri was his right-hand man, and had been given free hand to abuse detainees through his sensitive position. “Therefore, we (the undersigned) demand justice by bringing this man to account for what he had done. They said that his fate had been decided by his service of tyranny.

Mary Lawlor the new UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders has tweeted: “Where is woman human rights defender Loujain Al-Hathloul? Hearing disturbing reports that her family haven’t heard from her for weeks and are understandably worried. Would be grateful to hear from authorities about what’s happening.” While Amnesty Gulf, another human rights NGO tweeted about UAE political prisoners: “Grave fears for health of Ahmed Mansoor, Abdallah al-Shamsi, Abdel Rahman Chouman, & Ahmed Sobeh as word of #COVID19 cases at al-Wathba prison circulates. Family visits have been halted & phone calls interrupted. #UAE must be transparent about situation in its prisons.”

In an article published by Al Jazeera on 29th May Mary Lawlor said: In the coming years, the killings of HRDs will be one of my main priorities. Every year, hundreds of people peacefully working to protect the rights of others, including journalists, environmentalists are killed for their work. I will also work to address the rise in online attacks and abuse aimed at HRDs. People online are targeting, stigmatising, and threatening HRDs for their work on a daily basis. These threats too are often a prelude to murder.

As the outcry against Saudi crown prince’s project known as NEOM escalates twelve Saudi NGOs have signed an open letter calling on management consulting firms involved in the project to condemn human rights violations accompanying it. This has followed the death of Abdul Rahim Al Huwaiti by Saudi forces for refusing to vacate his home in the vicinity of the proposed project, and the revolt among the inhabitants of towns and villages near the site of the proposed project against their evacuation from their homes and lands.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

3rd June 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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