In its annual report (World Report 2018) published on Thursday 18thJanuary Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of violating international humanitarian law in Yemen and stepping up arrests and prosecutions of activists seeking reform or voicing peaceful dissent. The rights group reported it had documented 87 unlawful attacks by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, leading to nearly 1,000 civilian deaths. It said that more than a dozen prominent political activists convicted on “vague charges arising from their peaceful activities” were serving lengthy prison sentences. “Mohammad bin Salman’s well-funded image as a reformist falls flat in the face of Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe and scores of activists and political dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons on spurious charges,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
HRW also said that The United Arab Emirates was involved in abuses at home and abroad in 2017, arresting one of the last outspoken rights critics in the country and playing a role in torture and disappearances in Yemen. Coalition members, including the UAE, have provided insufficient information about the role their forces are playing in the campaign to determine which country’s forces are responsible for unlawful attacks. The UAE operates at least two informal detention facilities in Yemen. Its officials appear to have ordered the continued detention of people held there despite release orders, as well as forcibly disappearing people, and moving high-profile detainees outside the country. Former detainees and family members have reported abuse or torture inside facilities run by the UAE and UAE-backed forces. Yemeni activists who criticized these abuses have been threatened, harassed, detained, and disappeared. The US works closely with the UAE in Yemen. “Whenever the US and others praise the UAE for its critical counterterrorism support in places like Yemen, they paper over a much darker reality – of disappearances, torture, and detainee abuse, and their own potential complicity in these abuses,” said Ms Whitson.
On Sunday 21st January, Habib Yousuf Al Shuwaikhat, 25, died at AlMabaheth Prison in Dammam, Eastern Arabia. He has been denied proper medication for his deteriorating health, as cancer spread in his body. He had been in jail since 9th September 2015. His family was forced to bury him in haste with no noticeable presence of mourners.
In London a public petition has been launched at the Parliament website. Under the title “Cancel the invitation for Saudi Crown Prince to visit the UK” the petition says: “We call on the Prime Minister to withdraw the invitation for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to visit the UK. The Saudi Arabian regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Torture and arbitrary detention are widely documented. In 2017 alone, over 100 people were executed. The Crown Prince has directed the bombardment of Yemen. Tens of thousands have been killed or injured. There is widespread famine and cholera, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Yet, the UK still sells arms to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime has supported repression in Bahrain, where its military intervened to end peaceful protests in 2011. The lives of people in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia are more important than arms sales. Stand up for human rights and cancel the visit.”
On 17th January the Spokesperson of the European Union (EU) issued a statement on the trial of Nabeel Rajab, saying: The EU has been following the case of Mr Rajab very closely. He has been serving consecutive terms in prison since his arrest in spite of his poor state of health. We reiterate our call on the Bahraini government to release Mr Rajab, including on humanitarian grounds. The Government of Bahrain should show commitment to its own reform agenda by upholding freedom of expression. Suppressing voices of dissent can only contribute to fuel resentment and instability.”
Regime’s forces in Bahrain have launched a new massive campaign ofraids and arrests in various towns and villages. In the week 16th-22ndJanuary there were at least 37 detainees including three children. From Duraz three were detained yesterday: Sayed Adnan Sayed Hashem, Khalil Ibrahim and Fadhel Abbas. Two were detained from Aali Town: Sayed Ibrahim Sayed Hassan and Mahmood Ali. Mahdi Isa Al Murri was detained at Maqaba town. From Iskan Aali Badr Al Shamlan was arrested. From Samaheej: Hassan Abd Ali, his brother< hussain. Ali Abdul Hussain from Al Daih was arrested. Mohammad Abdul Hussain was arrested upon his return from abroad. Two years ago, Sayed Hadi Ali Ni’ma was kidnapped, imprisoned and abused. After enduring horrific torture he was sentenced to two years. Two months ago he was arbitrarily transferred to solitary confinement where he is terrorised on daily basis.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
24th January 2018(firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vob. Org)