STATEMENTS

Ten years of Revolution: Khalifi dictators must go, US to stop arming Saudis

As the preparations for the 10th anniversary of the 14thFebruary Revolution gets underway in Bahrain, the regime has escalated its repression, carried out pre-emptive raids on homes and arrested scores of innocent native citizens. On 4th February at least 13 people were detained: Alaa Hamid Al Samei’, Mahmood Abdul Aziz, Sayed Hussain Amin, Mohammad Hamid, Sayed Mohammed Jassim, Abdulla Karimi, Ali Mahdi, Ahmed Mahdi, Hassan Al Sufi, Ali Hantoush, Hassan Al Barsham, Hassan Al Mushaima and Hassan Ali Ibrahim.

“Save Bahraini children” is the latest call after khalifi torturers detained several children in recent days. Reda Abbas, 13, Ali Yousuf, 15, Hussain Mohammad Ayoub, 13 and Mohammad Rashid, 13 were snatched from their homes by ISIS-style masked men.  Regime’s prosecutors have remanded them in custody for one week. On Monday The Arab Union for Childhood Protection condemned the continued detention of minors in Bahrain, describing the practice as “criminal”. The organization also expressed concerns about Sunday’s arrest of 13-year-old Mohammed Rashed and Hussein Mohammed Ayoub.

On 8th February four MPs at the UK Parliament issued an Early Day Motion (EDM) to salute the 10th anniversary of Bahrain. The EDM says: “That this House recognises the tenth anniversary of the Arab Spring and the Bahraini revolution of 2011; remembers the horrific events of the deadly pre-dawn raid of 17 February 2011, also known as Bloody Thursday; recognises the countless forms of repression that have targeted peaceful opponents of the regime, such as human rights defender Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and the leader of the political opposition in Bahrain Mr Hassan Mushaima, who have been in prison for the last 10 years; calls on the Government to press the Bahraini Government to abide by the principles of good governance, self-determination and human rights; and urges the Government to use whatever leverage it has with the Bahraini authorities to advance the democratic demands called for by the Bahraini people in 2011.” It was sponsored by Margaret Ferrier (Independent), Jonathan Edwards (Independent), Kenny MacAskill (Scottish National Party)and Andrew Gwynne (Labour).

Forty cross-party MPs and peers have urged the University of Huddersfield to close a Master’s course it runs at the Royal Academy of Policing in Bahrain, after evidence had emerged that political dissidents were being tortured in the same building. The MPs, led by Ian Blackford, the Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party, have written to Huddersfield’s vice-chancellor, Bob Cryan, saying the university is at risk of “indirect implication in human rights abuse” by running an MSc in security science solely for officers of the academy. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy campaign group (BIRD) has collected testimonies from 13 individuals arrested for political activism, who say officers abused them during interrogations in the academy where the Huddersfield course is based. Some of them report being electrocuted and beatings to their genitals. Four have reported sexual abuse.

At least seven imprisoned women had been on hunger strike for one week at the Isa Town women’s prison in Bahrain. They are demanding that they be released because of the risk of contracting COVID19 – also asking that their living conditions be improved. Political prisoner Zakia AlBarbouri was moved to the Fort prison hospital because of a drop in her blood sugar level. Officer Yasmeen Subhi is mistreating prisoners, especially those on hunger strike. The women are demanding accountability for women torturers.

International pressure has forced the Saudis to spare the lives of several political prisoners who had been condemned to be beheaded and crucified. Their state-backed Human Rights Commission (HRC) said on Sunday 7th February that three young Shi’ite Muslims sentenced to death when they were minors have had the penalty reduced to 10 years in prison. Ali Al-Nimr, the nephew of prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose 2016 execution sparked demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, was 17 when he was detained in February 2012 for participating in protests in the country’s Eastern Province. Along with Dawood al-Marhoun,17 and Abdullah al-Zaher,15 when they were arrested, Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court and faced beheading. He has served more than nine years in jail since his arrest. His sentence was commuted on Sunday, while Marhoun’s and Zaher’s were commuted in November 2020, the HRC told Reuters.

The Saudis have been shocked by President Biden’s decision to stop arming them as long as the war on Yemen continues. On 4th February he said: “This war has to end,” … “And to underscore our commitment, we’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales.” Bruce Riedel of Brookings wrote: Today, President Biden announced an end to support for “offensive” operations by the Saudis. We will need to see how this is transferred into concrete policy. Does it mean an end to the blockade, which is the most important element in the malnourishment of Yemenis? It continues support for Saudi air defenses against missiles and drones, but does it halt support for air strikes on missile batteries? Time works against the Yemeni people, every 10 minutes a Yemeni child under the age of five dies due to the blockade. An urgent international effort, with a new United Nations Security Council resolution, is necessary, and Biden’s appointment of a special envoy for Yemen with long experience in the region, Tim Lenderking, is a good step.  It is time to stop the carnage in Yemen and stop fueling the arms race in the Middle East.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

10th February 2021 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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