Bahrain, Formula One racing and dictatorship


This video says about itself:

The martyr alHuajjairi.. Bahrain’s witness on torture and impunity

3 May 2013

The martyr [medical profesional] AbdulRasoul alHujjairi had disappeared to be found later thrown in a street with scars of brutal torture and assault all over his body.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry chaired by international law expert Cherif Bassiouni documented in paragraph number 586 of its report that:

At 06:30, the body of Mr Abdulrasoul AlHujjairi was found in the vicinity of al-Askar Road in the Awali district. He was taken to BDF Hospital where he was pronounced dead. While the exact circumstances leading to this fatality are unclear, reports indicated that the deceased had gone missing around sunset the previous day. He suffered severe injuries all over his body and to his head caused by beatings.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Formula One 2015

Thursday 16 April 2015 00.04 BST

Amnesty warns human rights abuses ‘unabated’ before Bahrain Grand Prix

Amnesty International report details ‘chilling’ crackdown on dissent
• ‘Notion that Bahrain respects freedom of expression is pure fiction’
• Leading Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab arrested for highlighting prison abuse

Formula One back in Bahrain amid heightened rights concerns: here.

Human rights and Formula One: here.

Glitz of Formula One must not divert attention from Bahrain’s jailed journalists: here.

Bahrain Human Rights Abuses: Amnesty International Report Says Country Maintains ‘Chilling Crackdown On Dissent': here.

Government reforms put in place by Bahraini authorities in the wake of widespread anti-government protests four years ago have failed to end serious violations of human rights in the strategically important Gulf nation, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday: here.

HUMAN rights watchdog Amnesty International accused Bahraini authorities yesterday of continuing rights violations in a “chilling crackdown on dissent”: here.

On Monday 13th April, the Bahraini authorities carried out widespread arrests, some of which have been recognized as arbitrary. The arrests were followed by a statement made by the Minister of Information who said “the Interior Ministry shall face with law any calls or events that attempt to defame the international event and the interests of Bahrain before, during and after the Formula 1 race”. Bahrain is to hold the Formula 1 Grand Prix between the 17th and 19th of April 2015: here.

Bahrain: Constant judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer. The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the constant judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, Head of the Women’s Petition Committee, an organisation which campaigns for the rights and dignity of women in the Shari’ah family courts: here.

Human rights violations in Bahrain continue


This video is called Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Arrested Over Tweets.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama

Editor’s note: This letter was written in a Bahraini jail cell by Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights campaigner in Bahrain who was arrested April 2 after tweeting about torture in the country’s central prison, Jaw. Here is his letter.

April 9, 2015

From: Nabeel Rajab
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Isa Town Detention Center
Bahrain

Dear President Obama,

I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.

While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.

The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

Yours Sincerely,

Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain’s Prison Crisis Deepens: here.

This video says about itself:

Pinay OFW in Bahrain who Asked for Help was Finally Rescued

10 April 2015

Pinay OFW In Bahrain Asking For Help (Abby Luna)

From the South China Morning Post:

Filipino maid ‘beaten and raped‘ is rescued from Bahrain employer after Facebook appeal goes viral

Agence France-Presse in Bahrain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2015, 10:53am

The Philippines rescued a Filipino maid from her employer in Bahrain after she posted a desperate cry for help on her Facebook page.

Staff at the Philippine embassy were alerted to the plight of Abby Luna, who claims she was raped and beaten by her employer’s son, after she posted the video on her Facebook page. The video attracted about 78,000 shares and 19,000 likes.

“The rescue was prompted by the video message… She is now under the care of our embassy,” foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said. Philippine embassy officials and staff from Luna’s employment agency picked her up from her employer’s house, Jose said, adding that police were investigating the incident.

Luna’s alleged assailant denied to he attacked her, Ricky Aragon, vice-consul at the Philippine embassy in Bahrain, said.

In the three-minute long video, which appears to have been made on a webcam, a sobbing Luna accused her employer’s “drug addict” son of raping her. She also posted a written appeal for viewers to contact the Philippine embassy on her behalf.

“Help me get out of here. I’m scared. Until now, my genitals hurt. My leg is bruised. He (attacker) punched my leg to immobilise me,” said the 28-year-old, who had been working in Bahrain for a year.

“After my employer’s son abused me, he threatened to kill me and bury me in the desert if I tell anyone about what happened.”

Luna said her employer did not believe her claims of being raped and beaten and insisted she finish the remaining two months of her contract before she could go home. Her employer also told her to have an abortion if she fell pregnant, she added.

Luna is among an estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas to escape poverty and high levels of unemployment in the Philippines.

Many overseas Filipino workers, who account for a tenth of the country’s population of 100 million, work in menial jobs and endure dangerous working conditions.

Last year, a Filipino maid, Nargelene Mendez, was rescued from a house in Saudi Arabia after posting a video on her Facebook page claiming her employer had abused her.

In Hong Kong, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker accused her employer of subjecting her to six months of physical abuse.

Erwiana, 23, underwent treatment at the Amal Sehat Islamic Hospital in Sragen, Indonesia, after boarding a flight from the SAR.

Photographs of Erwiana’s injuries quickly spread through social media and led to a demonstration of thousands of people through Hong Kong’s Central district. Police arrested her employer former beautician Law Wan-tung on January 20, 2014, as she tried to board a flight to Thailand. She was sentenced to six years in prison and fined HK$15,000 earlier this year.

Maids working in the Middle East frequently suffer abuse.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Arab Emirates to reform a restrictive visa system and pass a labour law to stop domestic workers [from being] exploited.

OFW raped by employer’s son in Bahrain rescued by embassy: here.

Human rights and free speech lagging in Gulf monarchies. Post-Arab Spring oppression increasingly involves harsh penalties for dissent, including torture, stripping citizenship: here.

New Zealand musician Jordan Reyne interviewed


This is a music video series by Jordan Reyne.

By Len Phelan in Britain:

Jordan Reyne: Strong enough to be different

Tuesday 7th April 2015

In her other life, JORDAN REYNE produces excellent podcasts for the People’s Assembly. But, as she tells Len Phelan, when she isn’t engaged in that vital work she’s busy carving out a career as an innovative musician with a radical, feminist edge to her work

CURRENTLY touring Europe with Slovenian legends Laibach, Jordan Reyne is about to release a new EP entitled Maiden, which follows on from her previous records Mother and Crone.

Described as a goth-folk artist, and with a growing legion of fans in Britain and on the continent, Reyne grew up in an isolated spot on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Cape Foulwind is a wild place,” she says, “where the nearest city is three hours’ drive and the sea never tires of hurling itself on the jagged roots of mountains. Almost no-one lives there and what little space there is between mountains and waves is often filled with rain.”

It’s a place where you can’t help but fall in love with folklore, the stories of men and women from England, Ireland and Wales who came and lost their lives there, she explains.

As a child, she found “odd ways” to amuse herself: “My habit of hollering back at the sea while banging bits of old iron was not what my parents called musical,” she says. “They made me learn to sing and play, to spare themselves the torment.”

Such early experiences shaped the music she makes today. “It’s a blend of fact and folklore — found tales and found sound from the cast-offs of coal mines and factories to homemade drums and farm implements. It’s a coming together of stories told in Celtic-style melody and hypnotic tribal beats.”

But the trilogy of EPs she’s produced tell stories which are not simply fable. “I wanted to do a project that spoke of the experiences of women at different life stages or the tales of how others see them,” she says. “Growing up in such an unusual environment made me very aware of how people’s expectation of my behaviour seemed to come from somewhere I hadn’t been.”

The EP project began after talking to her mother about her experience of old age.

She told her of what it’s like to feel the same self she’s been for her entire life but, looking incredulously in the mirror, thinks: “Who the hell is this old woman? Is that seriously me?”

How certain “kinds of people” are or should act — assumptions based on age, race, gender or religion — is an issue that exercises Reyne. “Old age invokes certain ideas on how and who one is meant to be,” she stresses. “If we have wrinkles, we are expected to be a different kind of character than if we don’t.

“If we don’t feel old — and my mother is certainly one of the most alive people I know — then our inner ideas of who we are come into conflict with what we are led to believe the facts of our physical age imply. We feel that in being ourselves, people get confused and walk away.”

Alluded to in advertising, film, popular culture and fiction, the images of the maiden, the mother and the crone have been passed down through time with certain character attributes pre-assigned and, says Reyne, “they limit our understanding of a person — we don’t let them just be.”

To counter those assumptions the songs on the EPs, reflecting three life stages, are real stories set into folkoric form, “where women battle with, or conform to, expectation. Or where others comment on how they think those women should behave.”

Her mother’s experience of being deemed invisible has a positive side, she feels. “It gives you a certain amount of leeway. As an inherently shy person, my mother often bottled what she felt, for fear of being told it was not acceptable to disagree.

“Nowadays, she has a new-found confidence to say whatever the hell she thinks. Loudly. Being outside ‘the gaze’ in everyday encounters, she can voice opinions she didn’t dare utter before.

She’ll tell the local politician on the election hustings that he’s failed to address the issues, or the pompous ex-lecturer in her book club group that he should stop imagining he is the only one in the room that knows anything. All things she would never have done before.”

The Crone EP coincides with Reyne’s adoption of “the hag” character on stage, a horned horror backed by pagan rhythms built up live with loop machines.

“The hag not only sings but screams when she feels slighted. She is political, irascible and passionate — because, for once, she gets to say what she thinks. Despite the fact that she may not be listened to.”

The maiden on the final EP of the trilogy is the innocent whose nascent sexuality is as alluring as it is corruptible.

“When I left the place I grew up, living in the city was as exciting as it was scary,” Reyne says.

“There were so many eyes and so many pictures, slogans and broadcasts that seemed to want to help you be these things that fit what was wanted from young women.”

But, she points out, the real seducer is capitalism itself, with its overwhelming messages of polarised gender, narcissism, consumption and trappings of glamour which are often pushed their way. “It is dedicated to the quirky girls — those who are strong enough to be different,” Reyne says.

And that pretty well sums up this intriguing and adventurous artist who dares to challenge the stereotyping of women so persuasively.

The music from all three EPs is being toured throughout Europe, including Britain, until November this year and the Crone EP is released on April 27, details: jordanreyne.com.

Nigerian lesbian refugee deported from Britain?


This video from Britain says about itself:

Interview with Aderonke Apata

11 April 2014

Former Yarl’s Wood detainee Aderonke Apata discusses the traumas of the British Immigration system.

Interview: Emma Jean Pittarides

Camera: Ralph Pritchard

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Nigerian gay rights activist has her High Court asylum bid rejected – because judge doesn’t believe she is lesbian

Aderonke Apata was so desperate to convince the Government she was gay that she submitted a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence

Emily Duggan

Friday 03 April 2015

A Nigerian gays right activist who fears imprisonment and death because of her sexuality has had her case for asylum rejected by the High Court – after a judge ruled that she was pretending to be lesbian.

Aderonke Apata was so desperate to convince the Government she was gay that she submitted a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence. Yet a High Court judge has ruled that she engaged in same sex relationships in order to “fabricate” an asylum claim.

Ms Apata, 47, came to Britain in 2004 and has won awards for her gay-rights campaigning. She is engaged to her long-term partner Happiness Agboro, also from Nigeria, who has already been granted asylum in the UK based on her sexuality. …

The judge acknowledged petitions signed by several hundred thousand people supporting her case – and her considerable support from LGBT activists in court – but said “I do not think that can amount to evidence as opposed to opinion and support (although that support is very impressive).”

Judge Bowers did not accept a controversial Home Office argument that Ms Apata could not be gay because she had previously had children and heterosexual relationships. Nevertheless, he agreed with the Government’s assessment that she could not be considered part of the ‘particular social group’ known as lesbians.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was in court to support Ms Apata, said of the ruling: “It’s bizarre that the judge does not accept that Aderonke is a member of a particular social group, namely lesbian women. I find it offensive to suggest that she’s adopted the ‘customs, dress and mores’ of lesbian women purely in order to gain refugee status, given the evidence that she’s presented in her claim.

“The worst aspect of the ruling is the judge doesn’t accept that she has a well founded fear of persecution if she returns to Nigeria. It’s clear that she’s been publicly identified in the UK and in Nigeria as a lesbian or bisexual woman. Such women face the twin threats of legal persecution and mob violence in Nigeria.” …

Ms Apata is frightened of what will happen next but believes there may be further legal avenues for her to pursue. She did not want to risk damaging a future case by commenting publicly on the ruling.

Ms Apata was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress in 2005 and attempted suicide when she was in prison facing deportation. Her mental health formed part of the case.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Nigeria under laws passed in January 2014 and there has been a spike in violence against gay people.

After banning miniskirts, Roman Catholics ban maxiskirts


This video says about itself:

Mini-skirt ban sparks underwear protest at Kaposvar University in Hungary – Andry Kolor

12 October 2013

Mini-skirt ban sparks underwear protest at Kaposvar University in Hungary. STUDENTS at a Hungarian university attended class wearing only their underwear to protest against a dress code ordered by the college head.

In a letter to students on Wednesday, the rector of Kaposvar University in southwest Hungary wrote that a conservative dress code – dark suits and shoes for men; jacket, blouse and trousers or long skirts for women – must be adhered to when attending classes or exams.

“From October 1, there is also no place in the university for mini-skirts, flip-flops, heavy make-up, inappropriate fashion accessories, or unkempt fingernails and hair,” the letter continued.

The rector did make an allowance for lighter clothing during warm summer days, prompting some students to make the underwear protest.

“We were appropriately dressed but the class room was so warm we removed some clothing as is permitted,” said one student.

The protestors included male and female students.

Students plan to wear flip-flops and beach towels at another protest on October 7.

Roman Catholic authorities have a long tradition of denying women the freedom to dress how they want. I remember I was in Rome, decades ago. Among my traveling group was a (Roman Catholic) girl, wearing a miniskirt. When we came close to the Vatican, she was stopped, with cries of ‘Scandaloso!!’ (scandalous, in Italian).

Inspired by Roman Catholic ideas about what ‘modest’ women should wear and not wear, Italian politicians of Silvio Berlusconi‘s party ban miniskirts.

As people could read earlier on this blog:

Polish conservative Catholic lawmaker Artur Zawisza has proposed the introduction of legislation against “sexual temptation” which may include penalties for wearing miniskirts or heavy make-up as well as low-cut or see-through blouses.

Now, if Roman Catholic authorities ban miniskirts, it might look like a safe option to wear a maxiskirt? Forget it.

Translated from the site Joop.nl in the Netherlands:

March 31, 15 09:44

Flemish school bans, after headscarves, long skirts

Catholics want to bother Muslims

A Flemish Catholic school forbids students to wear long skirts or dresses. At the Ursuline monastic order school in Mechelen there is already a ban on headscarves. The school emphasizes the house rules, but according to victims these are applied only to Muslim girls.

Let us look at the patron saint of the Ursuline monastic order, Saint Ursula.

Saint Ursula, by Benozzo Gozzoli

Here she is, as depicted by Italian painter Benozzo Gozzoli about 1460. Note her very long skirt length. And note the very long skirt of the small nun of Ursula’s order, kneeling for the saint. That nun also wears (shock horror!) a headscarf.

Ursuline nuns in 2004

And here is a photo of 21st century Ursuline nuns.

Saint Ursula would be barred from her own school in Belgium today. So would her nuns. Unless, as the Joop.nl article says, the rules, officially for everyone, are only applied against Muslim girls

It reminds me of someone who said that if Jesus Christ would be a member of any of many Christian churches of today, then he would immediately be excommunicated.