STATEMENTS

MPs call on F1 to take up HR in Bahrain, Saudis persecute women activists

As Formula 1 (blood race) prepares to stage yet another shameful race in Bahrain calls have been made to cancel it unless the khalifi regime releases thousands of political prisoners. Shortly after winning his seventh Formula One world championship last week in Turkey, Lewis Hamilton issued a warning to the sport he loves. It was time it faced up to its responsibilities, to confront and deal with the human rights issues that blight some of the countries it visits, and do it now, he said. In London 30 MPs have called on F1 management to put pressure on the khalifi dynasty to stop persecuting and torturing activists. The new prime minister, Salman bin Hamad is closely linked to F1 race in Bahrain. He has failed to to address the catastrophic human rights situation in the country. Since he inherited his post two weeks ago more native Bahrainis, as young as 14 have been detained and tortured. One of them is Moosa Saeed who was detained for five days for posting a Quranic verse that says: Think not that Allah doth not heed the deeds of those who do wrong. He but giveth them respite against a Day when the eyes will fixedly stare in horror. He was abused and his poor family was forced to pay BD500 ($1400).

Former political prisoner, Mrs Najah Yousuf who was released last year after spending two years at the torture chambers said:  Every moment I spend in prison in Bahrain stains the reputation of F1.  Najah’s son, Kumail Hasan, has been imprisoned in what Amnesty International called “a reprisal against his mother.” He was only 16 years old when he was arrested last year, in December 2019. “My son is targeted because of the international pressure that my case has received and his imprisonment is a reprisal,” said Yusuf. “This is something F1 should have a moral duty to enquire about. The government has made good on their promise to go after my son if I refused to keep my mouth shut. While my family is being torn apart, F1 has chosen to reward Bahrain with more opportunities to sportswash their abusive reputation.”

The fast pace at which the khalifi regime is progressing with its normalization with Israel is causing anxiety among the natives and the neighbours alike. Few days ago their foreign minister led a 25-man delegation to Tel Aviv to enforce the newly established love between the two sides. The new khalifi prime minister is known for his pro-Israel inclination and has invited Benyamin Netanyahu to visit Bahrain. He is said to be planning to take his guest to the F1 race as a guest of honour to the khalifi clan. These steps have infuriated the Palestinians who have attacked the khalifis for their outrageous advances towards the occupiers of their land.

It is reported that poverty is fast spreading in the country as the khalifis continue to throttle the population economically while continuing with their lavish spending on themselves and their friends. The official figures show that 47 percent of families depend for their survival on the social benefits they receive, some of which come from local charities.

On 19th November the khalifi Lower Court in Bahrain issued a six-month prison sentence against the religious scholar Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ansari. He has been in detention since 8th September for expressing aspects of his religiousideas. Independent religious scholars continue to be persecuted for their religious and political opinion.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Josep Borell responded to a letter signed by scores of Members of the European Parliament on the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain. He said: I would like to thank you for your letter of 2 October 2020, in which you refer to the human rights situation in Bahrain, including to two Bahraini death row inmates, Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa. The promotion and the protection of human rights remain a core dimension of the EU’s engagement with Bahrain. During the last EU – Bahrain human rights dialogue on 7 November 2019, in Brussels, the discussions focused on the death penalty, as well as on right to fair trial, prison conditions, arbitrary detentions, allegations of torture and ill treatment. The EEAS intends to revert to those issues during the next human rights dialogue, tentatively scheduled for late autumn 2020. He added: As regards Mr Mohamed Ramadhan and Mr Hussain Moosa, the EU Delegation in Saudi Arabia (accredited to Bahrain), together with resident EU Member States’ representatives, attended their hearing of 8 January 2020. Following the confirmation of their death sentences by the Bahrain’s High Criminal Court in January 2020 and subsequently in July 2020 in a final ruling, the EU issued statements on 9 January 2020 and 13 July 2020 respectively.

Today a Saudi court decided to transfer the case of Loujain al-Hathloul to the Specialised Criminal Court (Terrorism court). This disturbing development has come after almost three years of incarceration and one year of court appearances. Fears are now rising for the safety of several other women activists like Nassima Al Sadah and Nouf Abdul Aziz who had campaigned to allow women to drive and respect human rights.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing a new campaign to denounce the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political movement feared by most Gulf monarchies, as Riyadh prepares to deal with what is likely to be a less friendly U.S. administration under Joe Biden. Over the past two weeks, officials, religious scholars and state media have warned Saudis about the group’s “ideas”, saying they sow dissent and call for disobedience against the state’s rulers. They have urged people to report members to authorities. Such diatribes are an indication Riyadh is worried that President-elect Biden’s administration will more closely watch the autocratic kingdom’s human rights record and be more tolerant of peaceful Islamist activism, experts say.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

25th November 2020 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

 

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