Saudis demolish mosque, detain scholars
outrage at khalifi candidacy for HRC presidency
This week Saudi forces demolished Imam Hussain Mosque in al-Awamiyah where the prayers were led by prominent martyred scholar Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr before his execution. Local activists said the demolition of al-Awamiyah mosque is not just a political move but a campaign with ideological motivations since al-Saud is a Takfiri (excommunication) regime that excludes Shia mosques from religious venues and refuses to respect them. Ten years ago Saudis were instrumental in destroying about 40 mosques in Bahrain.
Ali al-Nimr’s birthday will be on December 20. He will turn 26 years old. He has now been on death row in Saudi jails for five years for ‘crimes’ linked to protesting when he was only 17 years old – a child. Reprieve has urged people to send him birthday greetings. Despite claiming to end the use of the death penalty for child defendants like Ali he remains on death row eight months later. The uncertainty of his situation is exhausting – for him, and for his family. Knowing that he is spending another birthday unjustly locked away is heartbreaking.
Jailed Saudi cleric Salman al-Odah has partially lost his vision and hearing due to medical neglect by the prison authorities, according to his son. Doctors told him that his father had lost half of his hearing and sight.
On 11th December a senior religious scholar from Al Ihsa in Eastern Province was detained. Sayed Hashim Al Shakhs has been repeatedly detained for his political views. His house and the surrounding area were surrounded by heavily armed troops as they prepared to storm the house. This development is a serious escalation of regime’s crimes at a time when calls are made for the release of political prisoners including women activists.
New trial proceedings have commenced in Riyadh before the Specialised Criminal Court for several activists, including Khaled al-Omair, Mohamed al-Oteibi and those arrested in April 2019, as the Saudi authorities intensify their crackdown. The regime has claimed that some of the women activists languishing behind bars had “passed” secrets to a foreign country. This is re-phrasing the fact that some women had spoken to the media outlets such as Al Jazeera. The secrets referred to are the ill-treatment and torture of women political prisoners. Her sister, Lina said: “Loujain’s charges don’t mention any contact with ‘unfriendly’ states — they explicitly cite her contact with the EU, the UK and the Netherlands. Does Saudi Arabia consider them as enemies?” she said.
The human rights world has been angered by Bahrain’s attempt to take up the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on behalf of the Asian group. On December 1st, 2020, MENA Rights Group and 20 other NGOs submitted a joint letter to call on the Human Rights Council’s Asia-Pacific Group to refrain from considering Bahrain for President of the Council. They said: In the light of the country’s deteriorating human rights record, the election of Bahrain would fundamentally undermine the integrity of the Council. The letter cited many reasons for rejecting Bahrain’s candidacy for HRC’s presidency under these main categories; Systematic violation of human rights, systemic engagement in reprisals and refusal to cooperate with HRC and Special Procedures. The signatories summed up their argument: “In light of the country’s deteriorating human rights record and its contempt for both UN treaties and mechanisms, the election of Bahrain to President would fundamentally undermine the integrity of the HRC. We thus urge member states to oppose Bahrain’s nomination, until the government can demonstrate tangible and permanent improvements to the human rights situation in the country.”
On 7th December Front Line Defenders issued a statement titled “Bahrain is not a credible candidate for the Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council”. It said: the appointment of a Bahraini Government representative to serve as President of the Human Rights Council would seriously damage the credibility of the institution and undermine global efforts to promote and defend human rights. Front Line Defenders urges all members of the Human Rights Council to indicate that a candidate from Bahrain is not acceptable at this time and to ensure that a credible candidate is elected as President of the HRC in 2021. It listed judicial harassment, arrest, detention, imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment among the crimes of the khalifi regime.
A religious scholar has been detained by regime’s forces. Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour Al-Sadadi had been summoned to appear at the Police station near Roundabout 17 of Hamad Town where he was arrested. He is accused of holding prayers at his home.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, celebrated on 25 November, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued a new report in both Arabic and English languages, entitled “Women in Bahrain: Silence Allows Violence”. The report addresses the deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain, particularly concerning women, and highlights the most serious violations and the laws restricting the freedom of women in Bahrain.
Bahrain Freedom Movement