STATEMENTS

Crackdown to pre-empt Bahrain protests, US arms to Saudis on hold

As the 10th anniversary of Bahrain’s Revolution approaches the country is poised for a new wave of protests and demonstrations to unseat the tribal rule headed by the dictator Hamad al-Khalifa. The opposition have approved a unified slogan to mark the occasion: “steadfast till victory”. Several areas of the country have witnessed protests and demonstrations in the past few days with defiant slogans by the youth, many of whom had already served prison sentences and suffered immensely at the hands of torturers.

In a desperate attempt to pre-empt major protests to mark the occasion, the khalifi regime has sentenced scores of native Bahrainis to prison terms including life sentences. On Sunday 31st January regime’s court sentenced 18 natives to jail sentences ranging between five years and life imprisonment. False charges were levelled against them based on “confessions” extracted under torture. Eight were given life sentences, two were sentenced to 15 years, two were given ten years, five were handed five years and two were given seven years. The case was made up after the rapprochement between the khalifis and Israelis and its timing was chosen to influence the Biden administration to continue defending the dictatorship as it faces internal revolt by people calling for democratic transformation. Two young brothers; Mohammad Abdul Hadi Al Ujaimi and his brother, Ali were given life term by khalifi kangaroo court. Two other under-aged natives were given harsh sentences. Sayed Reda Sayed Baqir and Falah Sayed Hassan were given five years prison sentences for taking part in peaceful protests. Two young native Bahrainis were detained on 26th January; Karrar Mohammad from Manama and Ali Hussain from Bilad Al qadim when they attended a torture centre at Roundabout 17 of Hamad town after they had been summoned.

Zakia al-Barbouri, the Bahraini woman prisoner of conscience has continued her hunger strike that she had started on Monday. She is protesting the ill-treatment by prison officers of her and other common law prisoners. She is calling for implementation of the Nelson Mandela rules. The 122 Rules cover all aspects of prison management and outline the agreed minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners – whether pre-trial or convicted. Other prisoners held in secluded cells also started hunger strike on 1st February calling for ending preferential treatment among detainees. The family of political prisoner, Ali Jaffar has been enraged after their son was denied medical care. He has been suffering severe abdominal pain but was left to endure the pain without medication. His appendix exploded and caused him more pain. He was subsequently transferred to hospital where he had three operations to contain the consequences of denial of medical care.

Anger is boiling among many native Bahrainis because of the khalifi exploitation to settle political and ideological scores with the natives. Scores were given one year prison sentence for participating in religious rallies four months ago despite observing social distancing and wearing masks. While those who flouted those rules in a regime-sponsored marathon were not questioned.

Fathers of three martyrs were persecuted by the regime for working on the graves of their sons who had been slaughtered by the khalifis. The fathers of martyrs: Ahmad Abdulla Al Mo’min (father of martyr Ali Al Mo’min), Jawad Al Sheikh (father of martyr Ali Al Sheikh) and Sayed Saeed Sayed Isa (father of martyr Sayed Hashim) were arrested at Al Kharijiya graveyard in Sitra and were subsequently transferred to Sitra police station. It is not known whether they have been charge with any “crime” for visiting the graves of their sons.

The Biden administration has imposed a temporary freeze on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is scrutinizing purchases by the United Arab Emirates as it reviews billions of dollars in weapons transactions approved by former President Donald Trump, according to U.S. officials. The review, the officials said, includes the sale of precision-guided munitions to Riyadh, as well as top-line F-35 fighters to Abu Dhabi, a deal that Washington approved as part of the Abraham Accords, in which the Emirates established diplomatic relations with Israel. Biden “has made clear that we will end our support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and I think we will work on that in very short order,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at his confirmation hearing in January.

A peaceful protest at Buraida town in Central Arabia was repressed by security forces. They were protesting the failed economic policies of MBS which led to increased unemployment and poverty in the country. Scores of protesters were detained and transferred to torture cells.

The crown prince of Abu Dhabi and top Saudi officials have received a summons to appear in a US court through Twitter, the same platform used by the Gulf states to target, harass, and defame a journalist suing them. Lawyers acting on behalf of Al Jazeera anchor Ghada Oueiss told Middle East Eye that the summons had been sent to Mohammed bin Zayed, also known as MBZ, as well as a number of US operatives who are accused of hacking her phone and disseminating information, including manipulated content, on social media.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

3rd February 2021 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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