Jailed Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab


This 8 October 2014 video is called Who is Nabeel Rajab? International organizations in solidarity with Nabeel Rajab, #BAHRAIN.

On October 1, 2014, 12-year-old Malak Rajab excitedly welcomed her father Nabeel home following a three-month trip to Europe, where he had advocated for human rights and democratic reform for his home country of Bahrain. Only a few hours after his return, however, Nabeel Rajab found himself in a Bahraini prison cell, arrested once again for his work as a human rights defender: here.

Freedom House Report Labels Bahrain as Worst of the Worst for Press Freedom: here.

Bahrain: Ongoing detention of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab: here.

Anti-humanitarian Bahrain government, ally in ‘humanitarian’ war


This video is called Bahrain: Human rights hero Nabeel Rajab arrested for a tweet.

From LobeLog in the USA:

October 9th, 2014

Fighting for Democracy While Supporting Autocracy

ISIS and Bahrain’s F-16

by Matar E. Matar

For the second time in recent history, the United States is trading away support for democracy and fundamental human rights protections in Bahrain as part of an effort to establish democracy and human rights protections in another Muslim country.

In March 2011, while the Obama administration was building a coalition to defeat Qaddafi in Libya, Saudi and Emirati troops were rolling toward Bahrain to reinforce a massive crackdown against unarmed pro-democracy protesters.

In her book, Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reveals how a very senior Emirati official pressed her to mute US opposition to this invasion if she wanted the UAE to join the anti-Qaddafi campaign. “Frankly, when we have a situation with our armed forces in Bahrain it’s hard to participate in another operation if our armed forces’ commitment in Bahrain is questioned by our main ally,” she quotes him as saying. It worked. Later that same day, in stark contrast to the US State Department’s response to the Russian intervention in the Crimea, Clinton issued a statement intended to soothe Saudi/Emirati concerns, saying in essence that their intervention in Bahrain was legitimate.

At that same time, large parts of the Bahraini population were being subjected to beatings, torture and imprisonment that had never occurred in the history of our country. Given our inability to protect our people from such abuse, several colleagues and I decided to resign our positions in Parliament in protest. I was then arrested while trying to inform the world about the casualties from excessive force and extensive torture. But Secretary Clinton was at peace with the trade-off: “I felt comfortable that we had not sacrificed our values or credibility,” she wrote in her memoir.

Today Bahrain is facing a similar situation. The US needs the appearance of strong Arab cooperation against the Islamic State (not because the US actually needs assistance from Bahraini F-16s), giving the Bahraini regime an opportune time to force bad deals on the people of Bahrain without criticism from Washington.

This time the regime is moving ahead, claiming that it has achieved consensus through what has clearly been a phony “National Dialogue”—the government’s response to international pressure for reconciliation after the repression of the pro-democracy movement.

The country’s absolute monarch, King Hamad bin Isa, dominates all power centers. He appoints all senior judges, members of the upper house of Parliament, and members of the cabinet, which is headed by the world’s longest-serving prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman (first appointed when Nixon was president). In addition, the King has given himself the right to grant public lands and citizenship to whomever he wants. He has abused these powers in a wide and systematic manner by concentrating wealth among his family and allies including within Bahrain’s minority Sunni population.

On October 12, 2011, half a year after the Bahraini uprising, opposition parties representing well over half of the country’s population issued a blueprint for democratic reform in Bahrain, the Manama Document. This paper identified a path toward an orderly transition to a constitutional monarchy, ensuring an inclusive government that represents all Bahrainis in the cabinet, parliament, and security and judicial institutions. Specifically, it called for the establishment of representative electoral districts; free elections; a single elected chamber in Parliament instead of the current bi-cameral arrangement, where the upper house is appointed by the king and only the lower house is elected; an independent judiciary; and the inclusion of Shia among all ranks of the military and security forces.

Instead of embracing any of these ideas, the unaccountable king has offered up pretend reforms, and the US government, with an eye to keeping the Fifth Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain and now on keeping Bahraini F-16s in the air over Iraq and Syria, pretends that these reforms are real. Central to this pretense is the “national dialogue” that has been running in fits and starts since July 2011. In reality, it has been a one-sided conversation, since key leaders of the opposition have been systematically arrested.

Last month, the king tapped Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad to assume his first real political role in the government—namely taking the lead in closing the door on the dialogue and submitting what he considered to be its “common ground.” Among other things, the crown prince proposed a meaningless plan for redistricting that was later imposed by the king by royal decree. Under this plan, Shia constituencies, which comprise about 65% of the total population, would receive only about 45% of the seats in Parliament. The redistricting plan was apparently designed to reduce the variation in the size of districts by scattering the opposition throughout majority loyalist districts. Moreover, the variation in the size of districts would remain huge. For example, a loyalist-majority district of less than 1,000 voters would elect one MP while an opposition-majority district with more than 10,000 voters would receive the same representation in Parliament—a ratio of more than ten to one. In fact, 13 opposition-majority districts with more than 10,000 voters each would be treated this way under the plan.

Another part of the supposed “common ground” relates to the formation of the cabinet, which must be approved by the majority of the elected chamber of Parliament. If Parliament fails to approve the appointed government three times, then Parliament would be dissolved.

Thousands of Bahrainis rejected this proposal Sept. 19 by marching in western Manama in a demonstration of determination on the part of pro-democracy forces that have not diminished despite the repression of the last three and a half years.

Nonetheless, based on the purported “common ground,” the government now intends to hold elections on Nov. 22.

Time is short for constructive engagement between the opposition and the regime to resolve these political disputes, and the US needs to be heard. Washington should not think that its interests require it to remain silent about the need for real democratic reform in Bahrain. In fact, failing to speak out is detrimental to its own stated interests in Iraq and Syria. While the regime in Bahrain is participating in F-16 sorties against the Islamic State, its policies of systematic discrimination against its majority Shia population and its ongoing incitement in the media against Bahraini Shia (as agents of Iran and the US at the same time!) create a perfect environment for incubating terrorists who consider Americans and Shia their greatest enemy. Moreover, while the US government trains Bahraini “security forces” that exclude Shia (on sectarian grounds), it appears that some Bahrainis working for these same forces have left to fight with the Islamic State.

Yet when Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist, recently tweeted that the security institutions were the ideological incubator of sectarianism and anti-American attitudes in Bahrain, he was arrested on the grounds that he had “denigrated government institutions.”

Bahrain is a small country, but it represents a major test for US credibility. The Obama administration has traded Bahraini democracy away once before. Three years of bloodshed in Bahrain has not only radicalized elements of the opposition there but has also instilled a culture of abuse and impunity in Bahrain’s government and security forces, some of whom are now looking to the Islamic State to satiate their new-found appetite for violence. Any potential benefit the US thinks it might gain from an unaccountable (Sunni) autocrat’s F16s in the bombing campaign against the Islamic State is more than offset by the sectarian extremism that these alleged allies continue to provoke (and promote) at home.

Washington should not sell out democracy in Bahrain again. With a little attention and encouragement, President Obama could help bring democracy to this Arab country and claim at least one good result for his (currently empty) “win” category.

Matar Ebrahim Matar is a former Member of Parliament who served as Bahrain’s youngest MP representing its largest constituency. In February 2011, along with 18 other members from his Al-Wefaq political party, he resigned from Parliament to protest the regime’s crackdown against pro-reform demonstrators. During the Feb. 14 uprising, he served as a major spokesman for the pro-democracy movement. Matar was subsequently arbitrarily detained, and, after his release, left Bahrain for exile in the United States. In 2012, he received the “Leaders for Democracy Award” from the Project on Middle Democracy (POMED).

Bahrain government, allies of NATO and ISIS


This is a video of United States comedian Jon Stewart about the participation of the Bahraini absolute monarchy in the supposedly anti-ISIS military coalition.

Since the 1970s, Bahrain and the U.S. have maintained a close military partnership. Following 9/11, the Bush Administration elevated Bahrain to “major non-NATO ally” status, making it the first GCC state to join this elite 15-member club: here.

From Global Voices:

Bahrain Joins US Air Strikes, but Still Tortures Americans and Silences ISIS Critics

9 October 2014 16:42 GMT

“He was ordered to stand on one leg for four hours. He says he was beaten repeatedly, as threats were made to rape his mother and sisters.” This sounds like the actions of ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that has brutally taken control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. But it is actually a description of what the Bahrain government, an ally in the coalition against the ISIS, has done to an American citizen and thousands of its own citizens.

Bahrain and four other Arab countries have joined the coalition against the militant group, which is killing Muslims and minorities and spreading horror, in order to grab land for its self-declared caliphate. It goes without saying that Bahrain didn’t even pretend to hold a parliamentary session to approve the decision to go to war. Bahrain’s contribution to the coalition has also drawn laughs on American comedian Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” [see video at top of this blog post].

This comes shortly after Bahrain deported an American diplomat. Also recently, Shaikh Khalid Al Khalifa, the head of the national committee for defence and national security at the Shura Council, brushed off the danger of the ISIS.

Allegations of torture

Bahrain is now in the third year of its crackdown on a popular uprising. Tagi Al-Maidan, a US-born citizen, found himself caught in the struggle after he returned with his mother to Bahrain following her divorce. There, he was arrested and tortured into signing a false confession that he is an attempted murderer. He is now serving a 10-year sentence in Bahrain’s infamous prison system.

Al-Maidan was arrested at his house and put on trial for charges that included illegal gathering and assaulting armed forces. In an interview with an Arabic-language daily, his mother denied all the accusations, saying her son was home at the time of the alleged incident, adhering to the American embassy’s travel advisory.

The mother says there is no physical evidence to support the claims against her son. She demands that any supposedly incriminating evidence must be presented in open court, where, she is confident, it would be quickly refuted. According to Human Rights Watch, courts in Bahrain “fail to deliver basic accountability and impartial justice“.

According to prominent Bahraini human rights activist Said Yousif Almuhafada, Al-Maidan is being mistreated in prison. Almuhafada described the bad conditions in a tweet earlier this summer:

Tagi Al-Maidan, a US citizen, is on a hunger strike in block 3 [of Jaw Prison] due to his mistreatment, lack of medical attention, and deprivation of food that is necessary for his medical condition.

After several prisoner deaths in Bahrain last year, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said in its 2013 report:

The continuation of the current violations against all prisoners in Bahrain may lead to future loss of lives.

Four deaths were attributed to the lack of medical treatment in prison in 2013.

According to his mother, Al-Maidan has lost 16 kilos (about 35 pounds) since his arrest, his hair is falling out, he’s developed a stomach ulcer, and he is experiencing back pains. Without medical attention or enough diplomatic pressure to release him, Taqi’s psychological condition is also expected to deteriorate.

The arrest of Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain is also silencing those who speak against the ISIS, while turning a blind eye to defectors from its own armed forces, who have climbed the ranks of ISIS and call on Bahrainis to join the organisation.

Bahraini authorities have again arrested Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist who was released from prison in May 2014 after spending two years in prison for advocating peaceful protests. This time, he was held for criticizing police defectors who joined ISIS. Indeed, Rajab has commented on acts committed by ISIS many times. After American journalist Steven Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS, he wrote on his Instagram account:

The American journalist Steven Sotloff who was killed by ISIS is one of the journalists and researchers who visited Bahrain many times and wrote many articles and investigations that support the struggle of Bahrainis and I have met him several times. The cruelty that radical Islamist movements have inflicted on Islam and Muslims is more than the enemies of Islam [have dispensed]. I offer all my condolences to the family of this journalist, who was killed at the hands of the enemies of humanity.

Rajab also criticized the inaction of the political forces in the Gulf region to crack down on ISIS. He tweeted to his 240,000 followers:

The highest Saudi cleric describes ISIS and Al Qaeda as the greatest danger facing Islam, but there are politicians in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf who consider ISIS’s occupation of Mosul a popular revolution.

He was arrested after he tweeted in reply to an ISIS YouTube message calling Bahrainis to arms:

many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator

12:55 PM – 28 Sep 2014

The authorities in Bahrain considered this message offensive to national institutions, and decided to keep him in custody, until he is brought to trial on October 19 for “denigrating an official institution”. This has sparked a discussion about the government’s hypocrisy in its fight against ISIS. Ex-MP Ali Alasheeri tweeted:

The state authorities, who don’t raise a finger when a high-ranking official tweets about how over half of Bahrain is made up of infidels, is an incubator of the ISIS ideology.

Journalist Adel Marzooq asked his 35,900 followers:

Aside from the financial and military support, how can the international alliance, in the first place, deal with the cultural and theological support of ISIS?!

Bahraini authorities demolished about 40 Shia mosques across the country as part of its crackdown on protests against the Sunni regime. ISIS is doing the same to historic mosques, shrines, and places of worship throughout Syria and Iraq. Activist Abdulelah Almahoozi made a comparison between two acts, asking if we aren’t witnessing the same phenomenon in essence:

Isn’t the act of demolishing mosques, as the police and military forces have done, the same act that ISIS is performing? Therefore, aren’t the security institutions inspired by an ISIS-like ideology?

Meanwhile, the Bahrain-born-and-raised preacher Turki Al Binali, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, has issued a new statement on why allegiance to the Caliphate Abu-Baker Albaghdaddi is the duty of every Muslim.

The Bahrain Ministry of Interior, which customarily publishes pictures of political dissidents and their charges before they go to court, hasn’t posted anything yet about the identity of the three unnamed Bahraini men in the YouTube message calling on Bahrainis to join ISIS. The government hasn’t announced a public investigation into the matter, either.

Update: Bahrain – Court orders continued detention of Mr Nabeel Rajab as he awaits trial: here.

Bahrain’s marine life threatened?


This video from California in the USa is called “Teething” Baby Whale Uses Humans As Pacifiers, Whale Watching.

From the Daily Tribune in Bahrain:

Environment: Bahrain’s marine life threatened?

Oct 8 2014

If the sight of dumped oil bottles and other waste like plastic bags, fishing lines and diapers at local beaches wasn’t horrifying enough, a recent washed up carcass of a baby whale, at one of the Kingdom’s beaches, is truly a cause of concern for all.

While marine debris has been affecting the beautiful coastlines of the Kingdom for a long time now, it seems human wastage and carelessness are endangering the marine habitat too.

Bahrain Beachcombers (a volunteer group committed towards cleaning the shorelines of the island), Founder, Darren Schneider discovered the remains of the small mammal while going for a swim at the Nurana Island.

The species from which it belonged to, was not determined as it was already in a bloated state. Darren and his girlfriend dragged the carcass of baby whale back into the water so it could float away.

Shocked, he felt that the death of the animal could be related to marine pollution caused by the dumping of waste materials in the sea, which are not biodegradable.

Speaking to DT News, Mr. Schneider said, “As part of our cleaning initiatives, our group managed to collect more than hundreds of oil bottles from the shoreline that were not properly discarded. Some of them even have oil left in them and this can be an alarming health hazard for the marine life, in terms of oil spills and plastic dumped in the sea.”

Bahraini prince may be prosecuted for torture


This video says about itself:

7 October 2014

Prince Nasser of Bahrain is not immune from prosecution over allegations of torture, the UK’s High Court has ruled.

Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa has been accused of being involved in the torture of prisoners during a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain in 2011.

Judges overturned a ruling by UK prosecutors that the prince had state immunity from prosecution.

From Reuters news agency:

Bahrain prince does not enjoy immunity over torture claims, UK court rules

Tue, Oct 7, 2014

LONDON – A British court ruled on Tuesday that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has been accused of torturing detainees in Bahrain, does not enjoy immunity from prosecution in Britain.

A Bahraini citizen, known only as FF, had sought the arrest of the son of Bahrain’s king following allegations that he was directly involved in the torture of three prisoners in Bahrain during a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.

FF, who says he himself was tortured, was granted refugee status and now lives in Britain. He was challenging a 2012 ruling by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the prince enjoys immunity from prosecution in Britain because of his royal status.

Prince Nasser is a regular visitor to England and has met members of the British royal family. FF had instructed a firm of London lawyers to write to the CPS asking for him to be arrested whilst on a visit to the UK.

After Tuesday’s High Court ruling, lawyers for FF said they would provide evidence against the prince to London’s Metropolitan Police Service. …

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; editing by Stephen Addison)

See also here. And here.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights and Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) welcome the decision by the UK High Court to lift the immunity from Bahrain’s Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa for prosecution against torture allegations: here.

Potential torture investigation of Bahraini prince puts IOC and AFC on the spot: here.

Since the 1970s, Bahrain and the U.S. have maintained a close military partnership. Following 9/11, the Bush Administration elevated Bahrain to “major non-NATO ally” status, making it the first GCC state to join this elite 15-member club: here.