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Raab urged to stop khalifi persecution of lawyer, Saudi threat to kill Callamard

UK’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab has been urged by human rights activists to take a firm stand on a native Bahraini lawyer who is undergoing unimaginable amount of persecution at the hands of  UK’s khalifi allies. Abdulla Al Shamlawi, a long-standing human rights lawyer has defended many torture victims and is known for his professionalism and patriotism. This week the regime’s courts have banned him from pacticing for one year following his “indictment” for tweeting a view that the khalifis did not like. He tweeted an assessment on historical events in the early days of Islam (more than 1400 years ago) in line with the thoughts and beliefs of Shia Muslims. The ruling family has long been engaged in a war against this group of Muslims which constitutes over 70 percent of the population. A human rights activist said that the least Mr Raab could do, as a foreign secretary and former human rights lawyer is to stand up to the challenges of one of UK’s best allies and ask them to end persecuting people for their views and expression of opinion and remove the ban on Mr Al Shamlawi.

Today the mother of two native Bahrainis slaughtered by khalifi security forces four years ago laid flowers on their graves. On this day in 2017 Mustafa Hamdan,22, was hit with live bullets fired by regime forces on 26th January 2017 who  attacked the house of Sheikh Isa Qassim. In a subsequent attack on 23rd May Mohammad Hamdan, Mustafa’s brother, was shot dead by khalifi killers. The distraught mother, nonetheless, maintained her high-headed pride having given more than her share in the struggle for freedom. The killers of these two native Bahraini youths have not been charged with murder or even questioned about their crimes.

Yousuf Al Dairi, a prisoner of conscience has been severely tortured for expressing solidarity with Sheikh Zuhair Ashoor who was targeted for assassination last week in a prison corridor. The young man did nothing except raising slogans with others in support of Mr Ashoor. He did not attack anyone or destroy anything. Prison cameras recorded the peaceful sit-in and the barbaric assault by the torturers.

Last Wednesday, 14 members of British Parliament called on Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to exert pressure on the Bahraini government to release political prisoners ten years after their arrests, while criticising the British government’s continued support for the Bahraini regime. An urgent letter sent by Labour MP Zarah Sultana stated: “In a follow-up to my letter that I sent on 22 February, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the arrest of leaders and activists of the revolution in Bahrain following their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations, we bring to your attention once again the issue of suppressing democracy and opposition leaders in Bahrain.” The letter indicated that ten years have passed since the arrests of Hassan Mushaima, Abdulwahab Hussain, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Abduljalil Al-Singace, Mohammed Habib Al-Miqdad, Abdujalil Al-Miqdad, Saeed Mirza Al-Nouri and Sheikh Ali Salman, on charges of communicating with foreign countries, incitement to murder and vandalising property. The signatories to the letter, including former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, stated that after a decade, Bahrain is still repressing the opposition. Yet, the British government continues to support the Bahraini regime.

American President Joe Biden has defended his decision not to sanction Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying there are no historical precedents of the United States punishing the leaders of its allies. Biden’s claim came during a television interview that was aired Wednesday on ABC New. He was asked why the crown prince was exempted from the sanctions announced by his administration after the release of an intelligence summary. It concluded that the heir to the throne had authorised the operation that killed Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

On 22nd march the Appeals Court in Riyadh upheld the sentence against woman human rights defender Nassima al-Sadah of five years in prison, with two years suspended. She is expected to be released in June. Human rights bodies have called on the Saudi authorities to release Nassima immediately and unconditionally.

For five years now an elderly cleric from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia has been languishing in jail for opposing the Saudi war on Yemen. Sheikh Hussain Al Raadhi, 71 had also criticized the execution of Sheikh Nim Al Nimr in 2016. He suffers multiple illnesses for which he is receiving little medical care.

In an interview with the Guardian, the outgoing special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings said that a UN colleague alerted her in January 2020 that a senior Saudi official had twice threatened in a meeting with other senior UN officials in Geneva that month to have Callamard “taken care of” if she was not reined in by the UN. Asked how the comment was perceived by her Geneva-based colleagues, Callamard said: “A death threat. That was how it was understood.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

24th March 2021 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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