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Bahraini jails infested with Covid-19, merchants of death fuel Yemen war

The disturbing news from the notorious Jau Prison in Bahain of the spread of Covid-19 among the prisoners has led to an outbreak of protests, demonstrations and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. Scores of people are confirmed to have contracted the deadly disease as the regime continued to maintain a news blackout. Among those infected are: Mohammad Fakhrawi, Sayed Hassan Sayed Shubbar Sayed Sharaf, Adel Ahmad, Ali Saleh, Abdulla Hassan Ali, Sayed Ali Musa Jaffar, Ali Hussain Jassim, Sayed Nazar Al Wadaei, Mazen Mansoor Ahmad Hassan Al Wanna, Sheikh Hassan Isa, Nidhal Abdul Aziz Hassan, Sayed Ali Moosa Alawi and his brother Sayed Zuhair and Abdul Aziz Abdul Reda,

Families of the political prisoners, worried about their jailed and tortured children have waged a series of protests in various parts of the country. Mothers have expressed deep concern and worry about their children. Some have offered to replace their children in jails as they can no longer tolerate the news that the khalifis have facilitated the spread of the killer disease in the filthy corridors of the torture dungeons.

Irish activist, Tara O’Grady said: “Death by Corona is the new execution in Bahrain jails. This man lost no sleep at the weekend, he got high on race car fumes. Has no idea what teargas smells like, nor the inside of a prison. Yet. Continuing to ignore international condemnation for human rights abuses may change that.”

Among the infected political detainees is the freelance journalist Ahmad Humaidan who covered the pro-reform protests that erupted in Bahrain in February 2011. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014. Humaidan was at the Sitra police station to document the attack as part of his coverage of unrest in the country after pro-reform protests erupted in February 2011, according to the BBC. His photographs were published by local opposition sites, including the online newsmagazine Alhadath and the news website Alrasid. The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ emailed the Bahrain Ministry of Interior’s media center in September 2020 asking for comment on Humaidan’s case, access to health care in Jaw Prison, measures against COVID-19, mistreatment and retaliation against prisoners behind bars, and questions about specific detainees’ medical issues, but did not receive a response. In October 2020, CPJ also emailed the Bahraini Embassy in Washington, D.C. with questions about the reasons for the continued imprisonment of Humaidan and other journalists, as well as their health and treatment behind bars, but did not receive a response.

The Grand Prix race which was held in Bahrain last weekend was marred by calls to cancel the event and international pressure on the Formula One management to take up the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain seriously. Lewis Hamilton who has won the race in Bahrain repeated his interest in the human rights situation in the country and promised to raise the issue with the khalifi prime minister. Bahainis protested in several places including outside the F1 offices in St James market in Central London. Several articles were published by Reuters, The Guardian and Al Jazeera detailed the human rights abuses that had accompanied the race in the past eight years including the killing in 2012 of journalist Salah Isma’il. Victims of the opposition to the race include Najah Yousuf who was released last year after serving two years in jail for her opposition to holding the race in Bahrain. Others include Nafisa Al Asfoor and Rayhana Al Mousawi. Reprieve used the opportunity to highlight the cases of death row prisoners; Hussain Moosa and Mohammad Ramadan. In a statement Reprieve said: Death sentences in Bahrain have risen by over 600% in the last decade alone. The use of torture to secure forced ‘confessions’ is systematic. There is a crisis happening in Bahrain.

On the 6th anniversary of the Saudi-Emirati-khalifi war on Yemen calls have been made for US and UK to end this criminal aggression. Anti-war activists have criticized the countries that continue to supply the Saudis and Emiratis with arms for their war on Yemen.New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) approved export permits for military equipment that was sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of Saudi Arabia’s partners in the war in Yemen, in 2018 and 2019, RNZ has reported. There are concerns that New Zealand may have contributed to war crimes in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been leading an offensive against Houthi rebels since 2015. These revelations came a month after a separate report that the ministry had approved export permits of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in 2016 and 2018 and after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, ordered an investigation when it emerged that an Air New Zealand company had worked on the engine of a Saudi Arabian navy ship.

Officials from the United States, the UN, and Oman believe that negotiations to end the war on Yemen have a chance. For weeks now, Oman has been hosting talks between the Ansarullah movement (led by the Houthis) and the US special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking. Yet, at the moment, no one is counting on a swift ceasefire and a speedy end to the war. Saudi Arabia has put forward a plan to end the war in Yemen. The foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud, announced that the proposals would include a nationwide ceasefire under the supervision of the United Nations. Last year, the Gulf state made similar overtures. The Yemenis are now on the offensive and are unlikely to retreat or surrender. It is most likely that they will continue their offensive in Marib and sweep the shrinking territories and fragile authority of the Riyadh-based exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

31st March 2021 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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