STATEMENTS

Post-Ashoora persecution of Bahrainis, Saudi courts jail more activists

The fallouts from the Ashoora commemorations in Bahrain have begun. The khalifi regime has implemented its revenge policy and escalated persecution of the natives. Several scholars and preachers have been summoned by the torture apparatus and threatened with jail and abuse. They include: Sheikh Qassim Zain Al Din, Nasser Ali Nasser, Wissam Al Urayyedh and Sayed Mohammad Al Ghuraifi. They were interrogated about their views on historic matters that had happened in the seventh century. These are related to the Umayyad dynasty that had killed Mohammad’s grandson, Hussain and 72 of his relatives and companions. No scholar is allowed to present a different narrative to that embraced by the regime. This is the first time in modern history that such inquisition has been implemented as a policy of the state. The freedom of scholarship is no longer secure as ancient tyrants are being re-marketed by a morally-bankrupt regime. Earlier the heads of at least eight matams (congregation halls) were summoned and threatened with jail if they engaged in religious activities to mark the event. In certain areas, such as Hamad town the processions were banned.

Meanwhile the messages from jail are causing great concerns to their families. Ibrahim Al Samahiji has spent more than five years suffering various ailments without getting proper medical treatment. Now his teeth have begun to break to pieces for no obvious reasons. The regime insists on using medical care as a weapon against natives.

Another form of religious persecution is the denial of religious books to inmates. In the past two weeks prison officials confiscated all books in the possession of the prisoners. This is a form of sectarian harassment that serves no security purpose whatsoever. On 4th September Amnesty International condemned the violations of human rights and the religious harassment of prisoners. It said that the khalifi authorities have confiscated religious books and prayers materials of the Shia prisoners. It said: these are considered another form or sectarian harassment implemented by the regime.

A report published by the Spanish newspaper, Diario 16, on 7th September said that the human rights bodies have asked the Spanish government to publish the real story behind what it called “the dubious deals” between the former king of Spain, Juan Carlos and Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa. The report also said that the government has maintained its silence on the human rights violations in that country. The report numerated several controversial arms deals, the purchase by khalifi family of the Cordoba football club and the transfer of 1.7 million Euros by Bahrain’s king to the Spanish king through his Swiss bank account.

A new wave of arrests is taking place in Saudi Arabia as the regime hastens steps to normalise relations with Israel amid dwindling economic fortunes affecting most citizens. At the same time regime’s courts have been issuing harsh jail sentences against innocent people. Al Abbas Hassan Al Maliki, the son of the prominent scholar illegally detained since September 2017, has been given four-years jail sentence. He is accused of tweeting about his father’s detention. The Criminal Court has also sentenced Dr Yousef al-Qassim to five years in jail on charges related to his freedom of expression. Al-Qassim has been detained since September 2017. The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh  has sentenced six academics and activists to jail sentences ranging between three and seven years.  Writer Abdullah al-Maliki has been given seven years for his cultural activities, including defending members of civil rights group. Five years were given to Yousuf Al Qassim and Ibrahim Al Harithi. Ahmed Al Sawyan, Khalid Al Ujaimi and Fahad Al Senaidi were given three years.

Reprieve, which campaigns against capital punishment has called on Saudi Arabia to commute Hussein Abo al-Kheir’s death sentence and give him a fair retrial. In 2019, five years after he was arrested and accused of smuggling, Hussein’s death sentence was made final because of the confession he signed under torture. Hussein maintains his innocence but his story of injustice is not an isolated one.

Saudi Arabia has denied some prominent detainees contact with their family members and lawyers for months, Yesterday Human Rights Watch said in a letter requesting access to the country and private prison visits with detainees. The situation raises serious concerns for the detainees’ safety and well-being. Saudi activists and other sources say that the authorities have also unduly denied numerous imprisoned dissidents and other detainees regular communication with the outside world. “Saudi authorities appear intent on making certain detainees and their loved ones suffer even further by denying them the ability to hear each other’s voices and know for certain they are ok,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “All prisoners should be allowed unfettered communication with their families and the world outside their prison cells, but especially so during these trying times.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

9th September 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

 

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