This video from the USA says about itself:
1 October 2014
Amber Lyon recounts her time spent covering the Bahrain conflict and how CNN censored her story about the events taking place there.
This video from the USA says about itself:
1 October 2014
Amber Lyon recounts her time spent covering the Bahrain conflict and how CNN censored her story about the events taking place there.
This 2010 video from the USA is called US-Saudi Weapons Deal.
From Jacobin magazine in the USA:
Our Friends in Riyadh
by Toby C. Jones
Last Wednesday, a criminal court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, one of the kingdom’s most visible political dissidents, to death. Saudi authorities have justified the verdict in terms of national security. Convicted on vague charges of sedition, Al-Nimr was tried in a court established to judge cases of terrorism.
As is often the case in Saudi Arabia, what passes for the rule of law and national security is more often the theater of the absurd. The execution verdict, which could be commuted to a lengthy prison sentence, is the product of a system based on political exclusion, a system that sacrifices human beings to maintain centralized authority and elite privilege.
Al-Nimr was arrested and subsequently sentenced not because he is a danger to Saudi society, but because he has long been a critic of oppression, has agitated against sectarian discrimination, and led protests demanding reforms to an unjust political order. Al-Nimr has been a prominent figure in supporting what has been a largely unseen, but nevertheless persistent protest movement in the predominantly Shiite communities of eastern Saudi Arabia.
Since 2011, shortly after citizens mobilized against the al-Khalifa in neighboring Bahrain, Saudi Shiites also took to the streets. In response, the authorities have cracked down brutally, criminalizing a broad range of activism, aggressively policing Shiite communities, and chasing down, arresting, or killing scores of activists.
Al-Nimr only poses a threat to the regime itself. The state’s repression, cloaked in the language of security and sedition, is a weak effort to mystify this fundamental fact. Given the stakes of expressing anger at the regime, particularly for the Shiite community, it is noteworthy that street protests have continued daily since the sentence against al-Nimr.
Of course, even casual observers of Saudi Arabian politics are likely unsurprised by the decision to execute a prominent Shia cleric. After all, the kingdom is widely believed to be a center of religious extremism and sectarian ferment. And it is certainly true that anti-Shiism has a history in Saudi Arabia.
Shiites, who make up as much as 15 percent of the Saudi population, have been targeted historically by both religious zealots and a central government tantamount to an imperial regime. The community has faced systematic discrimination and exclusion since the imperial expansion of the Al-Saud from central Arabia in the early twentieth century.
But sectarian pathologies, even in Saudi Arabia, have particular histories. And they are hardly as widespread as we might assume. It is certainly the case that discriminatory sentiment has become more entrenched in the last generation, but the worst varieties of anti-Shiism, especially those advocating violence and supportive of the regionalization of a Sunni-Shiite war, are a small, but powerful minority.
Anti-Shiism today is not so much the product of a retrograde or orthodox interpretation of Islam — widely labeled Wahhabism — as it is the convergence of several political forces, the most important of which is a vulnerable state.
Confronted by a number of internal and external threats — the Iranian pursuit of influence in the Gulf; the rise of Shiite power in post-invasion Iraq; the uprising in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s satellite state; and most importantly, the rise of a range of domestic challenges to Saudi authority since 2003, including criticism of deep state corruption and the absence of political rights — leaders in Riyadh have responded by fomenting discriminatory anti-Shiism. Rather than broadening participation or overturning inequalities, the regime’s impulse has been to pursue the politics of sectarian escalation.
Seen this way, the verdict against al-Nimr is not so much about national security or a reflection of deeply conservative, anti-Shiite sentiment as it is an indication of the regime’s vulnerability.
It is tempting to say that in threatening to execute al-Nimr the state seeks to dissuade other Shiite dissidents from challenging its authority. This is certainly true. But the regime is also throwing red meat to the worst reactionaries in its midst, engaging in the politics and practice of distraction, and, providing political legitimacy for the strident and virulent forms of sectarianism that have settled in across the region. The obvious effect is that anti-Shiism, both at home and abroad, has and will continue to gain greater currency, as it seemingly has with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). More subtly, the Saudi gambit is also based on a clear understanding that other potential forms of dissent — against charges of corruption or frustration at what is a heavy-handed security state — can be deflected or set aside by stoking anti-Shiism and by sacrificing Shiite bodies.
The sectarianization of Saudi politics is also political-economic and bound up in the kingdom’s “special relationship” with the United States. Since the uprising in Bahrain in 2011, the United States has continued to support the autocratic Arab regimes in the Gulf rather than democracy or human rights. Justifications include priorities around “security,” the need to contain Iran, and ensuring that oil flows from the Gulf to global markets.
With these priorities in mind, it is unlikely that American officials will do much to challenge Riyadh on either al-Nimr’s verdict or try to alter its sectarian behavior more generally. Critics have called on the United States to rethink its strategic ties to Riyadh. But doing so would require confronting not only the contradictions in American policy, especially given that it is close to a Saudi state that supported the rise of ISIS, even if indirectly, even while it now claims to be committed to the Islamic State’s destruction.
In any case, the United States’ unwillingness to confront Saudi Arabia’s role in ISIS’s rise, aside from comments from Secretary of State John Kerry that seemed to acknowledge this, enables the kingdom’s contradictory behavior. Whatever the limits of American power, the plain reality is that Washington has never meaningfully pressed the Saudis on their complicity in the spread of post-2003 sectarianism or anti-Shiite terrorism.
Beyond these contradictions, it is important to keep in sight the role that the United States government and that American capital have played in the rise of autocracy and discriminatory politics in Saudi Arabia in the first place.
Al-Nimr comes from a small village called Awamiyya in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, a place where American influence runs deep. It is in the east where almost all of the kingdom’s Shiite community lives, and where almost all of its oil sits. For a regime worried about internal threats, Shiite challenges to power are meaningful not only for their content, but also because of their location. The US government and American capital know this all very well.
Although American political and corporate interests surrendered direct control of Saudi Arabia’s oil resources in the early 1980s, they were present in the eastern province, in and around Shiite communities, from the late 1930s through much of the twentieth century.
Fearful of politically mobilized Saudi labor in the mid twentieth century, the Arabian American Oil Company (which was known to employ CIA officials) coordinated closely with Saudi leaders from the 1940s until the 1970s in building a centralized, discriminatory political order that was anti-democratic, anti-labor, and that sought to create disciplined and docile bodies in a place where the al-Saud lacked much in the way of political legitimacy. The very political order that Saudi authorities seek to shore up by way of show trials and capital punishment is the legacy of this twentieth century cooperation.
American policymakers no longer think in terms of the interests of an American oil company that controls Saudi oil. But its practical and political economic interests have changed very little. Since the late 1970s, in fact, these connections have proliferated, most importantly through weapons sales and the entanglement of the American military-industrial complex with Saudi oil wealth. There is no greater engine for the recycling of Saudi and Gulf Arab petrodollars than massive and expensive weapons systems. These sales are largely justified in the language of security and by invoking regional threats like Saddam Hussein and whatever regime sits in Tehran. The reality, though, is that they are hugely profitable.
While it has sometimes bristled at American policy over the last decade, Riyadh remains committed to its relationship with Washington. The opposite is also true. American policymakers continue to see Saudi Arabia as indispensable not because it has shown itself willing to change or develop a more inclusive and tolerant political order, but because it does not.
To push for democracy in Saudi Arabia, or even simply a more critical approach to the ways that Riyadh’s domestic political maneuvering courts regional catastrophe, would be to open up the possibility of a government that wouldn’t subordinate the interests of its citizens to American energy needs. That’s a risk the US government and capital aren’t willing to take.
Toby C. Jones is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
From the Bahrain Mirror:
Inside Nabeel Rajab’s mind… “Bahrain Mirror” presents a defense and evidences concerning the involvement of the Bahraini security bodies in embracing “ISIS”
(Exclusive): The re-arresting of Nabeel Rajab, Director of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, for his tweet, in which he described the Bahrain security institutions as an “ideological incubator” of ISIS, brought to light the dominant combat doctrine in this institution that forms “a passage” for several Bahraini fighters found within “ISIS” in the conflict areas in Syria and Iraq.
The Bahraini Ministry of Interior had already confessed on 5th September that one of its officers, Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, known as Abu Issa Al Salami, had joined ISIS.
The Ministry of Interior declared “it had already dismissed him for failing to attend work”. Meanwhile, this was considered the first official confession about the affiliation of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria to the security institutions.
Question marks raised about Bahrain’s participation in the international coalition against terrorism, led by the United States to fight ISIS, led to the acknowledgment of the Bahrain‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, on 29th September, that there is at least 100 Bahraini fighters fighting alongside ISIS.
However, the government spokeswoman, Samira Rajab, stated on 30th September “this is all the information we have until now. There is no more precise information.”
In this context, the video, of the lieutenant “Al Binali” with 3 of his friends, posted last week came to disclose a new era of the Bahraini Jihadi phenomena. Al Binali called his fellows in the Bahraini Ministry of Interior to follow him, join ISIS and leave their jobs in the Ministry. The officers in the Ministry know that “they are wrong” and they are still in their jobs for financial motives, added the defected lieutenant.
It is worth mentioning that the “Al Binali” tribe, which Issa Al Binali belongs to, is of the few Arab tribes which is allied to the Bahraini ruling family and whose members are allowed to take leading position in the Bahraini security bodies. The Al Binali tribe occupies the first place among the tribes and the Bahraini families in terms of providing the Jihadi organizations with a number of Bahraini fighters.
There are at least 6 fighters from this tribe who are actually involved in the battles in Syria and Iraqi alongside “ISIS“. The tweets of these 6 fighters reveal that they are publically involved in the battles. However, until 2013, Turki Al Binali, who studied the Islamic law, had been visiting Bahrain as one of the prominent leaders in ISIS. Turki is responsible for mobilizing a number of Sunni youth from Busaiteen region and encouraging them to fight in Iraq and Syria.
At least two Bahrainis from the Bahrain Defence Force, Abdul Aziz Al Othman and his brother Abdul Rahman Al Othman, were killed in 2013 while fighting for Al Nusra front in Syria. Social media published their photos in (May 2013) in different regions in Syria wearing the Bahraini army uniform.
The Extremist “indoctrination” in the army institution
These evidences opened the door to a debate about the doctrine of the army institutions and the indoctrination of those working in it. In an attempt to answer this question, a group of books issued from the Religious Guidance directorate in the Bahraini Defence Force was unveiled in June this year. In the context of sectarianism practiced by the Bahraini army, these books degrade Shiites, who represent the majority of the Bahrainis, ideology and present it as Takfiri.
“The light of Sunnah and darkness of heresy in the book and Sunnah” book by the author Saeed Al Qahtani presented Shiites as Takfiris with reference to their religious beliefs in visiting the tombs and shrines of the Prophet Mohammad and the Imams in Medina in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. In his book, Al Qahtani discusses that “going around the tombs to devour those buried inside” is among the acts of infidelity.
In his book, Al Qahtani describes the “Raafidis”; a degradation name used by the extremists to refer to the “Shiites”, as heresiarchs and classifies them among the “misguided groups” with respect to their beliefs; including “Druzes, Ismaili, Alawites and others.”
The book, which is being distributed to the officers in the Bahrain Defence Force, describes the Raafidi and other religious groups’ celebrations of the Birth of the Prophet as “considering it a festival in imitation of Jews and Christians”, noting that Muslims should be forbidden from imitating them.” The writer also referred to the celebration of Isra and Mi’raj and that of 15th Shaaban.
The Religious Guidance directorate in the Ministry of Defence also printed another book on its own account for the same author, Al Qahtani, under the title of “The light of monotheism and the darkness of polytheism in the light of the book and the Sunnah”. This book includes the same Takfiri implications and is one of the books being distributed to the officers in the Bahrain Defence Force.
Applied Models of the “Takfiri” indoctrination
The opinions of the Bahraini military spokesman, Khalid Al Buainain, on his twitter account @Al_Bu3inain provide “a clear sample for the military doctrine that is full of extremism acquired from this kind of indoctrination.” These opinions also reveal the usage of the Salafist “Takfiri” lexicon in its stance towards the West, USA, Shiites, Christians, Jews and Alawites.
Al Buainain (who has been recently banned from tweeting and asked to delete all his tweets pursuant to an internal investigation) objected to the granting of a government license (in August 2012) to establish a Catholic Church. He said, “How will God grant us victory when we build temples for Shirk and pagans. How will God grant us victory when polytheism is being supported by the government fearing from saying that we are against the human rights?”
However, the comments of the Minister of the royal court, Nasser bin Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who is an officer in the Bahraini Army and the chairman of East Riffa club, give another sample that shows the Salafi incursion inside the ruling family. His twitter account @nasser_khalid is full of clear indications that reveal a fundamentalist configuration of the same national ideology adopted by “the Salafia Jihadia”.
Nasser bin Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa says in one of the comments, “Bahrain is not for all, it is an Arab Muslim country pursuant to the Constitution” adding that, “We don’t force the Magi (the Shiites) to monotheism, yet refusing their shirk is a duty and helping them to shirk in Allah is a great injustice”. He continues in this context, “Not calling Sunnis and Shiites, but only Bahrainis is a Jahiliyyah naming set by those calling for shirk.”
His twitter account has regularly been an announcing port in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to the “Equipping Ghazi (militant)” campaign that aims at preparing fighters to fight in Syria. Nasser also stated that “the door of equipping the fighters in Syria is still opened. Don’t withhold yourselves.” He also considered that “There is no good in Muslims’ wealth and fortunes unless they assist their brothers in religion in the eastern and western wings of earth.”
Until the middle of 2012, “Equipping Ghazi (militant)” campaigns, designed to finance and prepare the fighters, were done in public in the Bahraini mosques such as “Shikhan Al-Farsi Mosque” in Riffa, “Abu Hanifa Mosque” in Busaiteen, “Nadi Al-Sahel Mosque” in Al Hidd, “Sheikh Isa bin Ali Mosque” in Muharraq, “Al Esmah mosque” in Hamad town, “Galali Al Garbi Mosque”, in Galali, in addition to other mosques in Isa town and Manama. These campaigns were launched under the supervision of Salafist leaders known for their deep relations with the leader of the Bahrain Defence Force, the field Marshal Khalifa bin Hamad, who announced in a talk on 16th June 2013 that “The Syrian revolution is the only one that can be referred to as people’s revolution.” Adding, “What happened in other Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain is not but a western conspiracy.”
According to this information, the human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab’s tweets came to shed light on what he called “the ideological incubator” for the Bahraini fighters. He, nonetheless, stated that “many of the Bahrainis who joined the ISIS militia came from the country’s security institutions; these institutions were the first ideological incubator.”
Perhaps this information opened the door for an official investigation that might have ended up with a big scandal regarding the involvement of the military institutions in broadcasting the extremist ideology and forming a starting ground to the extremist jihadists. However, because all of these happened in Bahrain, the government will only arrest Nabeel Rajab!
Now that the United States is forming another military coalition to combat evil in the Middle East, maybe we should pause to take a closer look at the members of this coalition. Sure, the Islamic State is terrible and does awful things like behead people, but they’ve got nothing on Saudi Arabia, which beheads people as a matter of policy: here.
Youth unemployment within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can no longer be overlooked. The recently released Rethinking Arab Employment report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) exposes some facts and challenges relating to this burning issue. At 8.1 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 5.6 per cent, unemployment rates are a concern in Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia: here.
There is a pattern of economic interests, political allegiances and military parameters that come into play when it comes to Bahrain. We know that, but yet a people cannot be made to live in slavery because it is politically and economically convenient to foreign powers: here.
A complaint by activists that human rights regulations were breached when the Formula 1 Grand Prix was staged in Bahrain “merits further examination”, a UK government panel has said: here.
This video says about itself:
Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab
21 October 2014
Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has called on the United States government to publicly request the release of newly-arrested Bahraini human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab. Citing a Huffington Post article, the Center describes how Rajab was arrested on September 30th after tweeting “that Bahrain’s security forces act as an ideological incubator for ISIS.” The Center contends that the United States government has ignored Bahrain’s sectarian past, and that the United States’ military priorities have overtaken its desire to call out Bahrain on its human rights abuses. According to the Center, the Bahraini government has no reason to alter its behavior and stop persecuting activists if the United States does not condemn these actions: here.
Update: Bahrain: Another case brought against jailed human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja: here.
Zainab Al-Khawaja, eight months pregnant, has been arrested for peacefully protesting against Bahrain’s King. If convicted she faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Write to the authorities and call on them to release Zainab Al-Khawaja immediately and unconditionally: here.
On 16 October 2014, the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom publicly released its bi-yearly update to its country report on the Kingdom of Bahrain. The update specifically addresses the Human Rights and Democracy section of the country report by detailing the most recent developments on the ground. While the report highlights public engagement with Bahrain regarding the deterioration of its human rights situation, it mostly expends its efforts towards praising the government on what the report sees as a nearly unqualified improvement, and even distorts international commentary on Bahrain’s obstinate behavior in implementing human rights reform to reframe the international community’s opinion to better align with the UK’s more positive take. The report’s assessment of the human rights status in Bahrain does not align with the current situation in the country or the opinion of the international community, and.it will be important for London to accurately address the changing environment in Bahrain to conform to the reality of the human rights situation on the ground: here.
This video says about itself:
Global Voices Face: In Conversation with the Activist Bahrain Doesn’t Want Us Talking To
21 October 2014
The Al Khawaja family has found itself at the forefront of protests in Bahrain, ever since the so-called Arab Spring made its way to the tiny island- kingdom on February 14, 2011.
Prominent human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja is currently in prison, serving a life sentence for his role in the protests.
Turning to social media, his daughters Maryam, aged 27, and Zainab Al Khawaja, aged 31, became vocal on Twitter, sharing their story and what was happening in their country to thousands of followers across the world. With 102K and 48.8K followers on Twitter respectively, Maryam and Zainab have been constantly badgered by the authorities for speaking up.
Zainab is currently in prison for tearing up the King’s photograph in court. Maryam had to leave Bahrain after being detained at the airport when she tried to visit her father. After Maryam was arrested at the airport, she was accused of hitting a member of the police force. Maryam denies the charges. In detention, she started a hunger strike. She was released from jail on September 19 and has since left the country. Her father remains in prison. Maryam is the co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights.
In this episode of GV Face, we speak to Maryam Al Khawaja.
Bahrain is now in the third year of its crackdown on a popular uprising. International media reports the protests in Bahrain as a Shia-led revolution against a Sunni regime. While many may see that there is nothing wrong with this description, it is very simplistic and doesn’t capture what is happening on the ground. It fails to acknowledge that Bahrainis who rose against the regime did not do so because they were Shia and the regime was Sunni.
We’ll talk to Maryam Al Khawaja about the role sectarianism plays in Bahrain and how that affects the movement. Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator of sectarianism? How does systematic sectarian oppression work in Bahrain? And why is the Bahrain uprising tainted as sectarian?
Posted: 10/21/2014 7:00 am EDT
A failed effort by a public relations company representing Bahrain and a UK law firm acting on behalf of Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard and head of its National Olympic Committee, to micromanage media coverage of this month’s lifting of the prince’s immunity by a British court reflects mounting unease in the island state and international sporting associations. The court decision opens the door to a British police investigation into whether or not Prince Nasser was involved in the torture of political detainees that could include three former players for the Bahraini national soccer team.
The five-day long effort by UK-based Bell-Yard Communications Ltd and London law firm Schillings was aimed at forcing this writer as well as The Huffington Post to adopt Bahrain’s narrow and partial interpretation of the court decision. That interpretation involved an inaccurate assertion that no investigation into whether or not Prince Nasser had been involved in torture of detainees could emerge from the court decision, that immunity had not been part of the grounds on which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had initially refused to investigate, and that soccer players had not[h]ing to do with the investigation.
The lawyers and PR representatives appeared particularly concerned about the assertion that the investigation could involve soccer players presumably because of the implications that could have for Prince Nasser’s Olympic status as well as that of a relative of his, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency, the prince’s number two at the Bahrain Olympic Committee and the island state’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sport.
The UK High Court lifted Prince Nasser‘s immunity in a case initiated by several Bahrainis who alleged that they were tortured in the aftermath of a popular uprising in Bahrain in 2011 that was brutally squashed by Saudi-backed security forces. The Bahrainis went to court after the CPS had refused to issue an arrest warrant for the prince on the grounds that his status in Bahrain granted him immunity in the UK. The prosecution said further that evidence submitted had been insufficient to justify an investigation. Because Prince Nasser was not a party to the proceedings, he had no opportunity to respond to the allegations in court.
The lawyers and PR representatives sought to have removed any reference in this writer’s article to a potential investigation or that immunity had played a role in the CPS’s thinking despite the fact that the prosecution in a statement to the court agreed to the lifting of Prince Nasser’s immunity in expectation that the Bahraini plaintiffs would submit further evidence. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said after the court hearing that the ruling opened the door to an investigation and that they would be providing additional evidence.
This writer corrected after publication a factual error in the original story. The story originally reported that an investigation had been opened rather than that the court ruling opened the door to an enquiry.
Nonetheless, in attempting to prevent fair and honest reporting, the lawyers and PR agents contradicted themselves. The attempt to force deletions that would have substantially altered the core of the story occurred despite the fact that Bell’s Melanie Riley had provided to this writer the statement of the prosecution to the court.
The prosecution said in the statement that “in the light of the Claimant’s intention to submit further evidence to the police (who are responsible for investigating the allegations), the Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to state to the police its view that immunity should not be a bar to any such investigation on the evidence currently available.”
Bahraini concern that the possible fallout of the court decision could affect not only Prince Nasser but also Sheikh Salman was evident in an email from Ms. Riley assertion that “there is no relevance to the AFC of yesterday’s proceedings.”
Sheikh Salman, according to information submitted to the prosecution, headed a committee established in 2011 by a decree by Prince Nasser to take measures against those guilty of insulting Bahrain and its leadership. Prince Nasser formed the committee after an earlier royal decree had declared a state of emergency. The royal decree allowed the Bahrain military to crackdown on the protests and establish military courts, according to the information provided to the prosecutor.
Sheikh Salman, a former soccer player who also serves as head of the Bahrain Football Association, is running next year in AFC presidential elections, which if he wins would give him an automatic seat on the executive committee of world soccer body FIFA.
The prosecutor was further furnished with a publicly available video clip in which Prince Nasser called for the punishment on television of those including athletes who participated in anti-government demonstrations. More than 150 athletes and sports officials, including the three national soccer players, were arrested or dismissed from their jobs at the time. Many have since been reinstated.
The failed Bahraini effort to micromanage reporting of Prince Nasser’s case, involving insinuations that this writer’s report was defamatory and demands that their unsolicited correspondence to a US publisher not be reported on, reflects greater sensitivity to image and reputation of Gulf states that also include the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, who stand accused of violations of human and labour rights. All three states have been put to varying degrees under the magnifying glass because of their hosting of major events, including the 2022 World Cup, the 2020 World Expo, Formula-1 races and ambitions to host similar events like the Olympic Games as well as their association with prominent educational and cultural institutions such as New York University and the Guggenheim Museum.
The various states have used different strategies to counter allegations of violations of human and labour rights. While Qatar has by and large engaged with its critics, Bahrain and the UAE have sought to prevent negative reporting by barring critical journalists and academics from entering their country.
Qatar, despite its engagement with human rights groups and trade unions, has not been immune to such tactics. Saleem Ali, a former visiting fellow at the Qatar-funded Brookings Doha Center, told The New York Times that he was advised during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government. At the same time, Qatar has sought to win hearts and minds in the United States with the establishment of Al Jazeera America, part of its global television network, and the expansion in the US of its belN sports television franchise.
Qatar’s strategy backfired when Britain’s Channel Four disclosed that the Gulf state had hired Portland Communications founded by Tony Allen, a former adviser to Tony Blair when he was prime minister, to create a soccer blog that wrongly claimed to be “truly independent” and represent “a random bunch of football fans, determined to spark debate,” but in fact served to attack its detractors.
For its part, the UAE has spent lavishly on public relations engaging, according to The Intercept, a US firm to demonize Qatar because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. The UAE is also suspected of supporting a network of Norway and France-based human rights groups that sought to project the Emirates as a champion of human rights despite crackdowns that have involved political trials denounced by international human rights groups and derided Qatar’s record.
Disclosing the UAE’s efforts to shape reporting in the US media, The Intercept noted that “the point here is not that Qatar is innocent of supporting extremists… The point is that this coordinated media attack on Qatar – using highly paid former U.S. officials and their media allies – is simply a weapon used by the Emirates, Israel, the Saudis and others to advance their agendas.”
Paris-Geneva, October 17, 2014 – Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General, will face a new trial on October 19. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), along with numerous institutions and NGOs have called for his release and the end of his judicial harassment. In addition, the Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to facilitate the access of international human rights experts to the country for trial observation and release.
On October 19, 2014, the Third Lower Criminal Court will open the trial against Mr. Nabeel Rajab on charge of “insulting a public institution” via Twitter. The alleged offence concern tweets he published on Twitter, which the CID deemed insulting to the Ministry of Interior, pursuant to Article 216 of the Bahraini Penal Code, punishable by up to three years of imprisonment. Mr. Rajab has been detained since the date of his summons for interrogation on October 1.
Mr. Rajab had just returned to Bahrain following an international advocacy tour at the United Nations and European Union, and there are strong reasons to believe that he has been targeted in particular due to his advocacy for human rights violations committed in his country in violation of international human rights standards.
Mr. Rajab had recently been released from prison after completing a two year sentence. In another case, he had already been tried on similar charges in relation to tweets deemed to be insulting to the Ministry of Interior, before being acquitted.
In 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN WGAD) had found that Mr. Rajab’s detention was arbitrary, following a previous conviction related to his freedom of opinion, expression and assembly. The UN WGAD had concluded that the “domestic laws of Bahrain (…) seem to deny persons the basic right to freedom of opinion, expression”.
Such ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention is one more evidence of the continued criminalisation of human rights defenders’ activities. This particular case has drawn the attention of many institutions, NGOs and third countries. The Observatory intended to send a trial observation mission for the October 19 hearing, but could not get a response in time from the authorities to guarantee its trial observer an unhindered access to the country. Thus, the Observatory calls on the authorities to facilitate the access to the country for international trial observers by guaranteeing the automatic issue of visas.
For more information, please contact:
FIDH: Arthur Manet/Audrey Couprie: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: Miguel Martin: +41 22 809 49 24
Civil Society Organizations Send Nabeel Rajab Letter to Secretary Kerry: here.
Rights groups call on UK to press Bahrain to release human rights defenders: here.
This afternoon I paid a visit to the Embassy of Bahrain in London’s swanky Belgrave Square to demand the freedom of the jailed leader of the country’s teacher union, jailed in 2011 for calling on his members to take strike action. I met the Ambassador together with two of Mahdi Abu Dheeb‘s UK equivalents, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower and NASUWT Deputy General Secretary Patrick Roach. We were there with Amnesty International UK’s leader Kate Allen, who was handing in the results of a massive exercise in popular protest about Mahdi’s continued imprisonment: here.