FIFA, from Sepp Blatter to Bahraini royal dictatorship?

This video from Ireland says about itself:

Medic Dr Nada Dhaif who was tortured in Bahrain speaks out in Dublin 7th June 2012

End Persecution of Medical Workers in Bahrain: Dublin Solidarity Demonstration

This is the full speech delivered by medic Dr Nada Dhaif who was tortured in Bahrain.

Witness Bahrain Ireland this Tuesday had a demonstration in support of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers persecuted by the Bahrain regime for doing their jobs.

Following pro-democracy protests in February and March of 2011, doctors, nurses and other medical and health care workers in Bahrain, some of them trained in Ireland, were arrested, tortured and sentenced by a military court for treating injured demonstrators. Following the military court verdict, sentencing some of the doctors and nurses to 15 years in prison, the health professionals were retried in ‘Special Civilian Courts’ for multiple charges against the Regime. They now await their ultimate verdict, which is expected on Thursday 14th June, 2012.

Witness Bahrain held a vigil outside the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) at 1pm on Tuesday 12th June to highlight the plight of RCSI’s Alumni and Staff, as well as to protest RCSI’s silence in the face of this persecution. They proceeded to Dail Eireann to lobby public representatives.

FIFA, the international football association, may well get out of the Sepp Blatter frying pan into the Bahraini royal family dictatorship fire.

From daily The Guardian in Britain today:

Human rights organisations have reacted with alarm to the Bahraini royal Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa becoming the new favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president, citing his family’s role in the brutal suppression of the country’s pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011.

From i24 news:

Human rights organizations furious over FIFA bid from Bahraini royal

Candidate accused of arresting, torturing athletes who participated in Bahrain’s 2011 pro-democracy protests

The head of Asian football is poised to announce a bid for the FIFA presidency, a source told AFP on Friday, in an opportunistic move which would dramatically reshape the election race.

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa could make a formal announcement as early as Friday and would be a serious challenger as the leader of FIFA’s second-largest confederation.

A bid by the Bahraini royal would be another major blow to the already suspended Michel Platini, who he formerly backed, and Shaikh Salman’s Asian rival Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

FIFA has been thrown into turmoil with outgoing chief Sepp Blatter, former favorite Platini and South Korean candidate Chung Mong-Joon all suspended, and corruption allegations engulfing the world body.

Despite mounting sleaze claims and criminal charges against senior figures including Blatter, FIFA elections are still planned to go ahead on February 26 with Platini among the candidates who have until October 26 to register.

Shaikh Salman’s won a landslide election in 2013 to succeed disgraced Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam as president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

This year, he was re-elected unopposed for a full, four-year term and became a FIFA vice president, assuming the post previously held by his rival and FIFA candidate Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan.

However, Shaikh Salman’s bid to become FIFA chief is raising alarms with human rights activists.

His 2013 election win followed a bruising campaign in which he was accused of human rights abuses over a round-up of football players and officials during Bahrain’s 2011 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Activist are highlighting claims that some of the Bahraini athletes identified as pro-democracy protesters in 2011 were imprisoned and tortured.

“Since the peaceful anti-government protests of 2011, which the authorities responded to with brutal and lethal force, the al-Khalifa family have overseen a campaign of torture and mass incarceration that has decimated Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“If a member of Bahrain’s royal family is the cleanest pair of hands that FIFA can find, then the organization would appear to have the shallowest and least ethical pool of talent in world sport,” he continued.

According to British newspaper the Guardian, a letter was sent from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) to Michael Garcia, then head of the investigatory unit of the Fifa ethics committee, calling for an investigation into Sheikh Salman’s role in “systematically targeting and mistreating athletes who have taken part in anti-government protests”.

In 2011 AP reported that more than 150 athletes, coaches and referees were detained after a special committee, led by Sheikh Salman who was then head of the Bahrain Football Association, identified them as participants in the protests.

BIRD alleged that these actions violated Fifa’s Code of Ethics, but Garcia responded to BIRD in January 2014 to say that the claims were outside the investigatory chamber’s jurisdiction.

“Fifa has a statutory duty to protect the integrity and reputation of football in Bahrain,” BIRD said. However Garcia still refused to open an investigation.

Sayed Al Wadaei, director of advocacy at BIRD said that “in attempting to get rid of its corruption crisis Fifa is now set to replace one allegedly corrupt official with another.”

“Salman is accused of involvement in a campaign of abuse against athletes in Bahrain, something FIFA is aware of and has refused to investigate. Salman’s appointment would be absurd,” he continued.

Shaikh Salman als enjoys the strong backing of Kuwaiti powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah, who was elected to FIFA’s executive committee at the April congress and is also a major player in the Olympic movement. …

Peter Velappan, a long-time AFC secretary general from 1978-2007, said he wanted an Asian candidate to lead the world body, but he warned: “Running FIFA is not a small job.

“I don’t think many people are happy with him (Shaikh Salman). He is the leader of the AFC but he has not been seen as doing enough for Asia,” said Velappan.

The English Football Association has suspended its support of UEFA chief Michel Platini in his bid to become the next FIFA president. The FA made the decision following a meeting of UEFA’s 54 members in Nyon on Thursday held to discuss the future of Platini who is being investigated over a 1.8 million euro payment he received from outgoing FIFA head Sepp Blatter in 2011: here.

200 days and counting: On hunger strike in Bahrain’s Jau Prison: here.

From IFEX human rights organisation:

Send birthday wishes of freedom to activist Zainab AlKhawaja


Friday 16th October, 2015

Bahraini human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja should be celebrating her 32nd birthday on 21 October. Instead, on this day, Zainab could be taken to jail to serve combined prison sentences of over five years for tearing up a picture of the King during a court hearing in 2014, and for allegedly insulting a police officer, along with other charges.

After tearing the King’s picture, Zainab (@AngryArabiya) tweeted this statement to her thousands of supporters around the world:

Ripping his pic is a 1st step to let him know that we are not afraid, that we are determined to gain our rights, to live as free ppl Bahrain. She has also thanked supporters on twitter, saying:

“My love and respect to all the people of Bahrain who continue to sacrifice every day so that someday our children can be free. And thank you to all those who stand up and speak out on behalf of the people of Bahrain. You restore our faith in humanity.”

Participating in the Gulf Center for Human Right‘s Thunderclap campaign to flood the twitter-sphere with birthday wishes on 20 October, along with messages proclaiming that tearing a photo is NotaCrime and calling for Zainab’s conviction to be quashed. Tweeting a personal message or photo to @AngryArabiya and @GulfCentre4HR with the hashtags #NotaCrime and #HappyBirthdayZainab. Zainab is a mother to two young children. If she goes to jail, she will be accompanied by her infant son, which is not an uncommon practice when women human rights defenders are jailed in Bahrain.

Thank you for taking action.

Bahrain: 188 torture cases in 6 months…Sentences up to 2783 years in prison: here.

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