Bahrain dictatorship’s imprisonment of Maryam al-Khawaja


This video is called Maryam Al Khawaja on Bahrain‘s “inconvenient revolution”.

By John Dyer:

Bahrain May Have Jailed One Too Many Human Rights Activists

September 6, 2014 | 12:35 am

When human rights defender Maryam al-Khawaja stands before a judge in Bahrain for a scheduled hearing September 6, there’ll be more at stake than her freedom.

Al-Khawaja faces charges of insulting Bahrain’s monarch, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa; participating in a human rights campaign; and assaulting a policewoman — a charge her defenders say is bogus. They say that in reality, al-Khawaja was jumped by four cops in the airport as she tried to enter the island kingdom in the Persian Gulf on August 30.

She faces at least seven years in prison. But the bigger issue, say human rights activists and foreign policy experts, is whether Bahrainis will grow even more restive as word of her case spreads throughout the country.

The Arab Spring never quite ended in Bahrain. Read more here.

“These ruling families think they have a tight grip on power,” said Travis Brimhall of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a Copenhagen-based group founded by al-Khawaja’s father, Abdulhadi. “But the people of the country are kind of a sleeping giant.”

In 2011, about 200,000 people — one out of every four Bahraini adults — took to the streets during the Arab Spring. The King needed to call on Saudi Arabian troops to cross the causeway linking the two countries and suppress the demonstration.

On Wednesday, as international pressure mounted on Bahrain to release al-Khawaja, the Bahraini government announced a crackdown on subversive activities. The ostensible reason for the crackdown was the threat of terrorism, but the state-controlled Bahrain News Agency reported that “defaming Bahrain’s reputation inside and abroad” would also merit prosecution.

An estimated five people per day are “disappeared” in Bahrain and locked up for indefinite periods; prisons in the country swell with thousands of political prisoners.

According to Brimhall, Bahrain’s citizens have plenty to complain about. His organization estimates that an average of five people are “disappeared” every day in Bahrain by police and locked up for indefinite periods; prisons in the country swell with thousands of political prisoners.

A citizen of both Denmark and Bahrain, al-Khawaja had been returning to the island to visit her father, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 on terrorism charges Brimhall says were trumped up. He started his second hunger strike on August 25 — his first lasted 110 days — and al-Khawaja reportedly wanted to see him.

“They were giving him glucose and other things to keep his blood sugar up,” Brimhall said of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja‘s first hunger strike. “He lost 25 percent of his body weight. In the end, they drugged him, knocked him out, and put a feeding tube through his nose and kept him alive. It became apparent they wouldn’t let him die, so he stopped.”

Bahrain hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the United States Naval Forces Central Command. Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says that this arrangement makes the US reluctant to condemn the government’s crackdown. That said, relations between Bahrain and the US have suffered recent setbacks. Last month the King expelled an American diplomat for, allegedly, meeting with opposition leaders. …

“We tell ourselves that we need a fleet in the [region] and that this is the only place we can put it, so this tiny island nation can get away with murder,” Kleinfeld said. “It’s compromising long-term security for short-term security. We see what happens when people rise up — we do nothing, and then eventually their governments fall.”

In a piece for the Daily Beast, Advocacy Director Cole Bockenfeld comments on the implications of Bahrain’s recent arrest of human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja: here.

A Bahraini court has extended the imprisonment of prominent human rights activist Maryam AlKhawaja for another 10 days: here.

The last time I wrote at length about the remarkable al-Khawaja family of democratic nonviolent human rights activists from Bahrain it was because its members were being nominated as a family for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. And excellent winners they would have been, signal torchbearers for the best and most idealistic aspirations evident in the Arab Spring; however, the Norwegian stewards of the prize, who’ve been proving a little squirrelly and unfocused of late (with that premature award for Barack Obama during his first presidential year and its choice of “the European Union” in 2012), instead went for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons last year—ah well. Alas, the family’s fate has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent days and is becoming the subject of worldwide concern and alarm: here.

Behind the Bahraini Revolution: An Interview with Maryam Al-Khawaja: here.

British government helping Bahrain dictatorship


This video says about itself:

‘People were tortured in front of my eyes': Bahrain top human rights activist Nabeel Rajab released.

By Clive Stafford Smith, US lawyer and the founder and director of legal action charity Reprieve:

Why Did the British Authorities Treat This Bahraini Rights Activist So Badly?

Posted: 05/09/2014 09:50 BST

It is undoubtedly true that there are some barbaric extremists who pervert the meaning of Islam – many of whom may now be associated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All the more reason, then, for us to identify our friends in the Islamic world, and treat them well.

Why, then, did the British authorities treat my friend Nebeel Rajab, his wife, his 16-year-old son, and his 12-year-old daughter so badly? And when can they expect an abject apology?

Nebeel is the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). In 2012 he was imprisoned for three years (later reduced to two) for taking part in ‘illegal’ peaceful protests against the Bahrain regime. He was also charged with the heinous offence of “insulting a national institution” in comments about the interior ministry that he posted on Twitter. His conviction for a tweet he sent about the prime minister was later overturned.

Perhaps Nebeel was lucky. He ‘only’ suffered abuses such as being beaten by the police, and being held almost naked in solitary isolation – isolation, that is, except for the dead animal that was placed in his cell. Another friend from Bahrain – BCHR’s founder Abdulhadi al-Khawaja – is serving a life sentence based on evidence that is widely accepted as having been secured under torture. In both cases, the UN has determined that the detention was arbitrary and illegal.

I first met Nebeel when he volunteered to come to Yemen to help persuade the families of Guantánamo detainees to allow us to offer them free legal representation. Nebeel then worked closely with us to get justice for all the Bahraini detainees, and many of the Saudis – whose own government would not allow us to visit their families in Saudi Arabia. Throughout my association with Nebeel I have known him to be a decent, dedicated, liberal person – just the kind of ally that Britain needs if our politicians are serious about making this country safe.

So why, then, did the British authorities hold Nebeel and his family at Heathrow for five hours? Adam is 16; Malak is just 12 years old. Nebeel and Soumaya had brought them to England on holiday: was this to be the children’s first impression of a country that boasts that it is the home of democracy and the rule of law? After spending the first hours of their holiday in a Heathrow detention centre both Adam and Malak were forced to have their finger prints taken, and to pose for “mug shots” before finally being allowed to leave. Before their holiday had even started they were asking to be taken back to Bahrain!

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that the British authorities have reported back on Nebeel’s detention to their buddies in an undemocratic Bahraini regime that has no respect for the law. (I am sorry if this is the kind of comment that “insults a national Bahraini institution” – but fortunately in Britain we have the right to free speech, especially when we describe a despotic regime with accuracy.) Nebeel spoke recently at the House of Lords, and appears to have caused consternation among British diplomats because of his willingness to highlight Britain’s shameless hypocrisy in its attitude to Bahrain. Nebeel has already heard that he may be detained upon his return home; if so, this may well be based, in part, on the comments of British officials.

Not only are our actions in this case a cause for serious concern, but our broader policy of standing idly by while the Bahraini authorities use of illegal means to prevent opposition politicians speaking truth to power continues to increase is equally shocking. A few days ago Maryam al-Kawaja, my old friend Abdulhadi’s daughter, herself a committed human rights activist, was arrested and detained by Bahraini authorities after returning to the country of her birth to try and visit her father in prison. On Tuesday of this week, a politically motivated death sentence was confirmed against 28-year-old Maher Abbas, who has been accused of a crime he patently couldn’t have committed, since he was on shift at his job in a hotel at the time. As in Abdulhadi’s case, Maher’s conviction appears to have been based entirely on “evidence” obtained after days of horrific torture and abuse. In light of cases like this, the idea that the UK, with our serious and principled opposition to the death penalty, should nonetheless be supporting the Bahraini authorities in their campaign of harassment against the legitimate opposition is all the more worrying.

I am, frankly, disgusted that our country should behave in this way. To be sure, we may sue them on Nebeel’s or Malak and Adam’s behalf, should that be necessary. But the decent and honest thing would be for the British government to issue an unconditional apology – before Nebeel returns to Bahrain in a few weeks’ time.

EU parliamentarians call for release of prominent Bahraini activist. Maryam al-Khawaja will appear in court on Saturday: here.

UN EXPERTS URGE BAHRAIN TO RELEASE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER MARYAM AL-KHAWAJA: here.

Bahrain: Arbitrary Detention of Maryam Al-Khawaja | Letter: here.

Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government to call publicly for the release of jailed Bahrain human rights defender Maryam Al Khawaja: here.

Bahrain: Human rights defender remains jailed. Index on Censorship calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Maryam Alkhawaja: here.

Bahrain Weekly Update: Maryam al-Khawaja Arrested, Faces Several Charges; Talks Underway to Reschedule Malinowski Visit: here.

US-Bahrain dance over diplomat? Inharmony reigns: here.

Opposition forces in Bahrain demand freedom for photojournalists: here.

Bahrain: Human Rights Defender Naji Fateel starts a hunger strike for Freedom: here.

Education on the Eve of Revolution in Bahrain: Comparing and Contrasting New Media: here.

Another Bahraini jailed for a Twitter message


This video says about itself:

Sentenced for social media: Bahrain activist jailed over tweet

10 July 2012

Bahraini anti-government campaigner Nabeel Rajab, a prominent activist who has been using social media to highlight human rights abuses in the kingdom, was jailed on Monday after being sentenced to three months imprisonment for a tweet.

The following is the tweet purported to have landed Rajab in jail. He addresses ruling prime minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman, uncle of the country’s reigning king, following his visit to the town of Muharraq (Al Mahraq). Rajab intimates that the crowds greeting Prince Khalifa were paid to receive him. His tweet asks the unelected prime minister, who has held the position since 1971, to “leave the residents of Al Mahraq, its Sheikhs and its elderly. Everyone knows that you are not popular here, and if there wasn’t a need for money, they wouldn’t have gone out to receive you. When will you step down?”

From Gulf News:

Bahraini activist in custody over tweet

Slaiss alleged that military personnel were ordered to vote in elections

15:09 September 1, 2014

Dubai: The spokesperson for a group of young activists was on Sunday remanded in custody for seven days over a tweet he posted.

Yacoub Slaiss, who was the public voice of Al Fateh Youth Coalition (FYC), a group that often supported the government, is to be investigated over claiming on Twitter about three months ago that “military personnel received orders” to vote in parliamentary elections and calling for criminalising the alleged orders to cast ballots, Bahraini media reported.

Under Bahrain’s election laws, men and women in uniform are allowed to cast ballots.

The Bahraini opposition opposes the right of military personnel to vote, claiming that the votes go in favour of pro-government candidates.

Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release leading human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, who was arrested on August 30 at Bahrain International Airport. Security Officials at the airport informed Maryam Al-Khawaja that her Bahraini nationality had been revoked and that she was no longer welcome in the country: here. See also here.

On 1 September, Marietje Schaake submitted written questions to High Representative Catherine Ashton concerning the case of the arrest of Maryam al-Khawaja in Bahrain. Please find a plain text version and the official document below: here.

Maryam al-Khawaja, prominent pro-democracy activist, arrested as she attempted to visit her father: here.

On 30 August, the prominent Bahraini human rights defender Maryam al-Khawaja, was detained upon her arrival in Manama, the country’s capital. She risked arrest for the chance to see her ailing father, dissident Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence, and has been on hunger strike since 26 August: here.

On 30 August 2014, human rights defender Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport. She was travelling to visit Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja in detention, who has been on hunger strike since 24 August 2014.  See here.

Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan – Prisoner of Conscience at Bahrain: here.

Hunch-backed dolphins off Bahrain


This video is called Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis chinensis).

In Bahrain, there is not only ugly torture and beautiful birds, but also beautiful dolphins.

From the Bahrain News Agency:

Hunch-backed dolphins sighted in territorial waters

01:52 PM – 31/08/2014

Manama, Aug. 31: The rare species of hunch-backed dolphins (sousa chinesis)

Sic: Sousa chinensis. In scientific names, the first, genus, name always begins with a capital. While the second, species, name does not. Many people make mistakes in this.

have recently been sighted off Sitra Island.

A female dolphin accompanied by a swarm of dolphins was seen attempting to resuscitate her dying youngster who eventually succumbed. Regional experts were consulted to verify the specifies

Sic: species

. According to a previous study conducted in 2006, there were 227 dolphins in Bahrain’s territorial waters during the study period which prefer to inhabit shallow island waters.

The Supreme Council of the Environment (SCE) urged fishermen, seafarers and captains of commercial vessels to take care upon sighting this rare species and other wildlife in order to ensure their safety and contribution in natural habitats and the boom and flourishing of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s maritime ecology. This rare species of dolphins is also known as the White Chinese Dolphin measuring 3.5 meters, weighing 250 kg. It had been sighted for the first time in Hong Kong waters in the fifteenth century. It is now listed as one of the endangered species.

The SCE urged the public to cooperate and to call the Hotline: 80001112 in order to report any damage to the environment which harms wildlife and fauna of all sorts.

The SCE has urged fishermen to comply with national regulations and to avoid incurring damage to marine mammals, dolphins and turtles.

Bahrain bridled terns


This is a bridled tern video.

In Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, not just cruel regime torture of human rights activists. Also, beautiful birds, like bridled terns.

From Focusing On Wildlife, with photos there:

August 28 2014

Bridled Terns – Al Jarrim Island South (Bahrain)

The Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus is a common summer breeding visitor to offshore islands in the Gulf and Red Sea. Brian Meadows (Bull B.O.C 2003) mentioned 175 pairs breeding on islets north of Yanbu al-Bahr 18 June 1993. Summer visitor to all coasts nesting on islands occasionally.

In 1988 Jennings visited the Farasan Islands and found the species to be a very common breeding tern and a survey of summer breeding seabirds by SF Newton in 1994 in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea found they were the most abundant and widespread breeding seabird. The aerial count total of just under 20,000 is likely to be a gross underestimate.

Most nests were under bushes but a few small colonies on Farasan use rock overhangs on cliffs in the absence of vegetation. Both the al Wajh and Farasan Archipelagoes hold large populations and the species is abundant on the well vegetated outer islands of the Farasan Bank where it co-occurs with Brown Noddy. Clutches were always of a single egg and hatching commenced in mid June.

In the Gulf large numbers breed on the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian offshore islands with eggs hatching in early to Mid-June. Karan(27°44’N, 49°50’E) is the largest of the six coral islands measuring 128 hectares in size (2025m x 625m).

This island has the largest breeding population of Lesser Crested terns in Saudi Arabia as well as good numbers of Bridled Terns and White-cheeked terns and a small number of Swift Terns. Jana (27°22’N, 49°54’E) is the second largest island being 33 hectares in size (1105m x 300m).

Large numbers of Bridled tern and small numbers of Lesser Crested Terns and Swift Terns nest here. Juraid (27°11’N, 49°52’E) is the third largest coral island measuring 20 hectares in size (732 x 282m) and holds the largest breeding population of Bridled Terns in Saudi Arabia, with good numbers of breeding Lesser Crested Terns and White-cheeked Terns.

Kurain (27°39’N, 49°50’E) is the second smallest island with a size of 8 hectares (312m x 251m). Large numbers of Lesser Crested Terns along with good numbers of Bridled Terns and White-cheeked Terns nest on this island.