STATEMENTS

Saudis defeated at HRC, khalifis detain dozens of Bahrainis in revenge

Yesterday Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to win a place on the 47-seat Human Rights Council. The result is a severe blow to the country’s efforts to improve its image in the wake of the admitted killing of the Saudi citizen and Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Their heinous human rights crimes in Yemen also contributed to its defeat. The Saudis lost their bid in the secret ballot on Tuesday conducted at the UN headquarters in New York to fill 15 vacant seats, which are distributed between five regions. Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the organisation founded by Jamal Khashoggi, said: “It is telling just how badly crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has damaged his country’s global standing for Saudi to lose its election to the UN human rights council… Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars he has spent on public relations stunts to cover his grotesque abuses, the international community just isn’t buying it.”

Reprieve is conducting a campaign for the release of Mohammed Essam al-Faraj who was 15 years old when he was arrested outside a bowling alley in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in 2017. His so-called ‘crimes’ include attending his uncle’s funeral when he was just nine years old. Mohammed was held incommunicado for a week. He was then taken to an adult prison where he was tortured and forced to sign a ‘confession’. The prosecution is using that ‘confession’ to sentence him to death. Members are urged to sign a petition to spare Mohammed’s life.

On 7th October, young citizen, Ali Al Awwami was abducted in a raid at Umm Al Hamam district of Qatif in the Eastern Province. Several others were arrested in raids that lasted three days. Armoured vehicles and heavily-armed personnel invaded the area wreaking havoc and spreading fear among the people.

In Riyadh the Special Criminal Court imposed 5-year prison sentence on writer, Jamil Farsi for exposing official misconduct. He said that the government had granted concessions to companies owned by members of the royal family to work on gold mines and other natural resources. He also warned against privatization of ARAMCO, the main oil consortium.

On 8th October, the European Parliament voted to downgrade its attendance at the November G20 summit in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns, and to urge for sanctions. The bill is one of the strongest political messages the institution has ever issued on Saudi Arabia and comes on the two-year anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. MEPs approved a wide-ranging resolution that condemns Saudi human rights abuses and urges the European Union to downgrade its representation at the upcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit to avoid legitimizing human rights violations.

A newly-launched khalifi revenge campaign has led to the arrest of over 40 natives for exercising their religious rights last week. Among those detained are young activists, preachers, orators and lamenters. They include the popular orators Mahdi Sahwan, his brother Jaffar and Qassem Marhoon. They took part in virtual processions to mark the Arba’een event which was marked by millions of Shia Muslims in the world. Four youths from Karzakkan were also arrested: Ahmad Abbas Ali, Hassan Saleh Al Qattan, Ahmad Saeed Khatam and Jawad Ahmad Jawad. The majority native Shia Muslims are being subjected to genocidal and systematic policies to eradicate their existence in the land of their forefathers.

A long term prisoner, Khalil Halwachi, 63 was moved to isolation unit for insisting on getting much-needed health care. He had repeatedly suffered ill-health including blood clots. His daughter, Fatima, has been working hard for her father’s release. Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace is also riddled with health problems for which he has received little care. Riddled with polio since birth he has been denied rubber ferrules for his crutches.

Scores of academics from across the world are calling on the University of Huddersfield to suspend a controversial Masters degree programme it runs with Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing over allegations that widespread torture of political prisoners had been taking place at the location. The Masters course in Security Science, which involves Huddersfield lecturers training Bahraini police officers, has been running since 2018 but has been dogged by claims that the Academy has been used as a “torture hub”. The letter from the academics states: “We are writing to condemn the University of Huddersfield’s decision to maintain an exclusive MSc in Security Science for students at Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing following revelations in The Times and The Yorkshire Post that at least ten political prisoners report being tortured at the site.”

“Since their publication, more individuals have come forward testifying to being tortured on Academy premises. We therefore join human rights groups in urging the University of Huddersfield to suspend their MSc to the RAP, pending an independent investigation. Should the management fail to act, we encourage Huddersfield students to raise the matter with their Students’ Union.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

14th October 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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