STATEMENTS

Freedom House: Bahrain is NOT FREE, Saudi detainees on hunger strike

In its latest report, Freedom House has re-iterated its view that Bahrain is “NOT FREE”. On political rights the khalifi dictators were given 1 out of 40 and 10 out 60 on civil liberties. On democracy scale, Bahrain has been given 11 out of 100. Last year the score was 12. In its overall assessment the organization said: Bahrain was once viewed as a promising model for political reform and democratic transition, but it has become one of the Middle East’s more repressive states. Since violently crushing a popular prodemocracy protest movement in 2011, the monarchy has systematically eliminated a broad range of political rights and civil liberties, dismantled the political opposition, and cracked down harshly on persistent dissent concentrated among the Shiite population.

A group of 15 rights groups have urged the administration of US President Joe Biden to address the deterioration of human rights in Bahrain by adopting a rights-based foreign policy towards the Gulf. The group, which includes the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Amnesty International, Reprieve, and the World Organisation Against Torture, wrote in a letter to US State Secretary Anthony Blinken on 3rd March: “Last December, you noted that in too many countries, people are imprisoned and face torture or death for speaking their minds, reporting the news, or demanding their rights. This statement sadly reflects the situation in Bahrain over the last four years”.

Tomorrow, the Fourth High Criminal Court will announce the khalifi decision in the case of the four children from Karranah town: Hussein Abdulrasoul, 16, Faris Hussein, 17, Muhammad Jaafar, 16 and Sayed Hassan Amin, 16. Yesterday Human Rights Watch said: Bahrain police beat children arrested in protest-related cases in February 2021 and threatened them with rape and electric shocks… Prosecutors and judges enabled the abuses. Police and prosecutors refused to allow parents or lawyers of the children, ages 11 to 17, to be present during their interrogations, and judges unnecessarily ordered their detention. One of the children spent his 12th birthday in jail.” On its part, Amnesty International urged people to write to the khalifi dictators to call for the release of children. In a session last week, the children described the ill-treatment they had endured since their arrest, but the “judge” refused to investigate their torture.

Regime’s mouthpieces have waged relentless war of abuse, swearing and threats against Al-Jazeera News for broadcasting a documentary on a Bahraini book. Zafarat is a compilation of testimonies of 70 native Bahraini prisoners who had been mercilessly tortured following a revolt inside the notorious Jau prison in 2017. They were protesting their dire conditions, lack of medical care and travesty of justice. The documentary talked to the book author and Bahraini victims of torture. The khalifis were enraged by the documentation of their heinous crimes that could form the basis of future legal cases against the dictator and his torture lieutenants.

Abdul Hadi Mushaima, father of the first martyr of the Revolution, Ali, who was detained and sentenced to three months for calling for the trial of his son’s murderers is suffering acute diabetes for which he is denied proper treatment. His old age did not stop the ill-treatment he has received behind bars.

On 8th March, the International Women’s Day, 161 parliamentarians from the German, UK, Irish and European Parliaments have signed a joint statement in support of Saudi women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and their struggle for gender equality. They called on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release WHRDs currently in detention, end all forms of discrimination against women, and fully dismantle the country’s male guardianship system. The statement was signed by 70 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), 48 German MPs, 22 British parliamentarians, and 21 Irish parliamentarians.

On 6th March detained Saudi human rights activists staged a hunger strike in Riyadh’s Al-Ha’ir Prison. Maha al-Qahtani, wife of Mohammed al-Qahtani, one of the founders of the opposition Hasm movement, said her husband and about 30 other people had started a hunger strike, including human rights defenders Fawzan al-Harbi and Eissa al-Nukhaifi. For these men to resort to a hunger strike must indicate how dire the situation is. The ill treatment of prisoners has led to serious ailments of many. Dhaif Allah Al Sareeh has been paralyzed as a result of torture. Dr Moosa Al Qarni suffers mental issues and is in hospital. Mohammed al-Qahtani, 55, is a Saudi economics professor, political activist, and one of the founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).

Sheikh Mohammad Al Habib from the Eastern Province has been in jail since July 2016 serving a five-year prison sentence. Last November the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that Al Habib was being detained arbitrarily and called on the authorities to immediately release him. On 11 May last year eight UN special procedures mandate holders expressed their concern at the persecution and ongoing detention of Sheikh Mohammad bin Hassan Al Habib for his human rights advocacy and activism.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

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

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