Bahraini human rights violations protest in London


Bahraini Ali Mushaima protesting at London embassy

By Phil Miller in London, England:

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bahraini opposition leader’s son resumes London embassy protest

THE son of a jailed Bahraini opposition leader has resumed his vigil outside the country’s embassy in London after a six-month gap.

Ali Mushaima returned to Belgrave Square today where he previously spent 46 days on hunger strike.

He re-erected a banner of his father, 71-year-old Hassan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

Mr Mushaima said: “I find myself having to come back to the embassy as the Bahrain government is deliberately denying my 71-year-old father his human rights, including medical care.

“I don’t want to wait until his health completely fails. I will do whatever I can to fight for justice for my father.”

Mr Mushaima is a cancer survivor who still suffers from diabetes, erratic blood pressure, prostate issues and an ear injury.

The British government has paid to train Bahraini jailers in prison medical procedures, but the Mushaima family says healthcare at Jau prison is inadequate.

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Dutch government helps Bahraini torture regime


Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh with a child, Amnesty photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Deported Bahraini sentenced to life imprisonment without a fair trial

A Bahraini asylum seeker who has been deported by the Netherlands has been sentenced to life imprisonment without a fair trial in his native country. Amnesty International and the Refugee Foundation report this, based on conversations with his family and lawyer.

The citizenship of 27-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh was also taken away and he was fined 1000 euros.

Brother

Showaikh fled to the Netherlands in 2017 because he was afraid of reprisals because of the political activities of his brother. He received no asylum and last October he had to return to Bahrain.

There, according to Amnesty, he was arrested and jailed on arrival without confidential access to a lawyer. He is said to also have signed a confession under pressure and was tortured. Last Thursday he was convicted on the basis of “broadly and vaguely formulated terrorism legislation“.

Human rights violation

Amnesty and the Refugee Foundation say that the Netherlands is guilty of a serious human rights violation, because Showaikh was sent back while “it is known how Bahrain deals with relatives of political activists“.

Since 2016, the human rights situation has deteriorated and more than 150 critics or their family members have been subjected to severe repression, Amnesty reported earlier.

NRC daily has asked the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) to respond to this life imprisonment, but the IND says they “never go into individual cases.”

Dutch goverrnment criticized about this: here.

Bahraini regime imprisons relatives in anti-democracy revenge


Theresa May meets the King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2016

This picture shows British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May meeting the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Khalifa, in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2016.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, February 25, 2019

‘I will not rest until my family is free’, London activist vows after Bahrain jails relatives

THREE relatives of a London-based Bahraini dissident have lost their final appeal against imprisonment in the Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain’s highest court upheld the family’s sentences today, despite United Nations experts warning that their convictions were “arbitrary.”

The family was targeted after their relative in London, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, protested outside Downing Street during a visit by Bahrain’s dictator King Hamad.

Mr Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, brother-in-law, Sayer Nizar Alwadaei, and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, were arrested in March 2017 and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

UN experts say their arrests were an “act of reprisal” for Mr Alwadaei’s human rights work in London, where he is advocacy director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird).

Mr Alwadaei was granted asylum in Britain in 2012 after he was tortured in Bahrain during the so-called Arab Spring.

He has since become one of the most effective and respected critics of Bahrain’s monarchy.

He has used freedom of information requests to frequently expose Bahrain’s deep ties to the British government.

However his success has made him a target for the regime’s security forces, who have gone after his relatives in Bahrain.

Mr Alwadaei condemned the latest court ruling, saying: “This is what you expect from a corrupt unjust system. I will not rest until my family is free.

“Their continued imprisonment is a shameful reminder of the UK’s weak position when dealing with human rights abuses committed by an ally country.”

Bird is particularly concerned about the welfare of Mr Alwadaei’s 55-year-old mother-in-law, who they say is being denied medical treatment for a lump on her breast, which they fear may be cancerous.

This is despite a British government aid scheme for Bahrain that involved training prison guards in healthcare procedures.

Amnesty International has issued a statement condemning the denial of medical access to Ms Mansoor, labelling her a “prisoner of conscience.”

Although she will be eligible for release next year, Mr Alwadaei’s cousin Nizar faces much longer behind bars.

He was arrested as a teenager and received two additional charges, meaning he will serve 11 years in prison.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has expressed serious concerns for the “ongoing trend of harassment and intimidation” of Mr Alwadaei and his family.

Britain’s Foreign Office has been approached for comment.

Bahraini torture regime, British Conservatives’ friends


This October 2014 video says about itself:

Bahrain human rights activist and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Maryam Al-Khawaja holds a press conference in London after being released from the Isa Town prison where she was being held.

Maryam tells us about the treatment at the prison and the conditions of migrant workers that she witnessed. Maryam Al-Khawaja also talks about the lack of medical support after a certain time and a Filipino woman who started having seizures.

Al-Khawaja was arrested at Manama airport last month and accused of assaulting a police officer; something which she denies. She has a court hearing on November 5th but the Danish citizen has not yet decided if she will attend. If convicted she could face 5 years in prison.

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tory minister cosies up to Bahrain’s unelected rulers as political prisoners rot in jail

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy criticised Britain for ‘contining to overlook and cover up the horrific rights abuses’ in the Gulf state

FOREIGN Office Minister Alistair Burt cosied up to Bahrain’s unelected leaders at yesterday’s meeting with the Gulf state’s crown prince and his retinue.

Mr Burt pushed ahead with the trip despite concerns raised by Bahraini exiles whose friends and relatives are held as political prisoners by the regime.

Their fears that Britain is too close to Bahrain were echoed by MPs, including Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who have written to Mr Burt.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a London-based dissident, warned that the minister’s visit came at a time when his frail mother-in-law was being denied vital medical treatment by Bahrain’s prison authorities.

Mr Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), said it was “crystal clear” that Britain “continued to overlook and cover up the horrific rights abuses that occur in the Gulf state.”

However, he hoped that “during his visit, Minister Burt has the opportunity to change this narrative and effect real change by advocating for the release of those imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights, including my family, who have endured nothing but a travesty of justice.”

Mr Alwadaei called on the Tory minister to visit his three jailed relatives while in Bahrain. The trio are expecting a verdict from Bahrain’s final appeals court on Monday.

Last month, United Nations experts found that all three are imprisoned arbitrarily and in reprisal for Bird’s advocacy work in Britain.

Another political prisoner, Ali al-Hajee, also wrote to Mr Burt before the visit and alleged that he had been tortured in Bahrain.

Mr Hajee said he was “one among the thousands of prisoners of conscience [and] victims of torture who are now languishing in Bahraini prisons.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade was highly critical of the trip. A spokesman said: “The Bahraini regime has inflicted a terrible crackdown on Bahraini people. Despite the torture and abuses, it has been armed and supported every step of the way by the UK government.”

Tortured Bahraini footballer returns to Australia


This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Hakeem al-Araibi returns to Australia after two months in Thai prison | ABC News

Australian footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi has arrived home in Melbourne after being freed from the Thai prison where he was held awaiting an extradition hearing.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

After a few scary months in Thailand, Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is back home in Australia. Hundreds of fans and friends were waiting for him at Melbourne Airport.

The 25-year-old Araibi was arrested in November during his honeymoon because he was wanted via Interpol. Bahrain had an international arrest order outstanding to Araibi.

Araibi used to play in the national team of Bahrain. He fled the country in 2014 after being indicted in connection with protests against the government during the Arab Spring in 2011. In Australia he plays for Pascoe Vale in the second division.

At the airport, the footballer showed that he was happy to be back. “Australia is my country,” Araibi said. “I do not have the nationality yet, but this is my country, I love Australia.” …

The FIFA world football association and various football professionals had expressed criticism of the arrest.

Hakeem Al-Araibi, a football player and refugee with permanent residency in Australia, was freed by authorities in Thailand yesterday after they dropped court proceedings to extradite him to Bahrain, where he faced politically-motivated charges. Al-Araibi flew to his home in Melbourne, Australia overnight. The release of Al-Araibi is undoubtedly a welcome development. Had the 25-year-old been extradited to his native Bahrain, Al-Araibi would have faced abuse, imprisonment and possibly worse at the hands of the despotic US-backed Middle Eastern regime: here.

Tortured Bahraini footballer freed in Thailand


This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Thai court orders release of Hakeem al Araibi

Thailand will free by the end of Monday a refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia who was arrested more than two months ago, a prosecutor in the case said.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Teammate Van’ t Schip’s ‘intense happiness’ about the freeing of Araibi

By Marijke van der Groef

“For three months you’re in stress, as teammates you do not really know how you can help, you worry, so now the relief is very big.”

The words are by Davey van ‘t Schip, teammate of Hakeem al-Araibi, the footballer who has been detained for months in Thailand. That country wanted to extradite him to his native Bahrain. But on Monday morning the news came suddenly that Araibi, who plays at the Australian Pascoe Vale club, would be released without charge.

Davey van 't Schip

“I was eating out with my friends, one of the boys was on Facebook and he saw it, I really got goose bumps, you are intensely happy that your teammate will get his life back”, says Van ‘t Schip.

Although the son of former [Dutch] Ajax player John van ‘t Schip is still not 100% sure yet: “It seems that when he was arrested there already was a ticket booked for him, so I really only will believe it when I will see him here at the airport tomorrow. ”

Refugee player

That airport will be the airport of Melbourne. The place where the now 25-year-old Araibi started a new life after he fled his homeland Bahrain. He had been indicted there in connection with protests against the government during the Arab Spring in 2011 and also has been tortured. The Bahraini international team player fled to Australia and received a residence permit there more than four years ago.

The footballer is indeed under contract with Pascoe Vale FC, but until he was arrested in Thailand, most teammates knew little about his background. Van ‘t Schip too.

“I knew he was an asylum seeker, but we did not really know much he had been tortured or what his background was, I can imagine that he was terrified that he would be sent back to a country that tortured him for political reasons.”

A week became three months

Araibi left for his honeymoon to Thailand in November. He was opposed to stay away for a week, which was almost three months. His name turned out to be on an international search warrant after which he was detained. The football community in Australia came into action and human rights organizations also spoke out.

Last Friday all captains from the highest division clubs in Australia asked for attention for the situation of Araibi. Before the start of the Australian Supercup, they showed football shirts with number 5, Hakeem al Araibi’s number.

Australian team captains' pro-Araibi demonstration

Van ‘t Schip is convinced that all attention has helped. “Without the club, and the people within the club who started an entire campaign and have exerted pressure on Thailand and Bahrain, it would have been different, without the club he would have been in Bahrain.”

For a long time, it looked like the military dictatorship in Thailand might send Araibi to Bahrain, to be tortured by the Bahraini royal dictatorship. While the Australian right-wing government did not really care about this footballer with an Australian residence permit as a recognized refugee. Like Donald Trump, they don’t mind if dictatorships are dictatorships and torturers, as long as they are allies.

Now, however, it turns out pro-human rights activism, even against dictatorships, can work.

Back to football

Araibi will be released on Monday evening according to a Thai spokesman and he will be able to return to Australia. The Australian football competition will start on Thursday. Van ‘t Schip will be happy to see his teammate again.

“I think Thursday is a bit too early for him, but it’s nice that he can build up his whole life again and football is a big part of that.” I assume he will start training again next week.”

Before that, Araibi will get a warm welcome on Australian soil. “The president of the club will send us his flight details so I think there will be some guys at the airport tomorrow”, Van’t Schip concludes, relieved.

Don’t extradite tortured footballer to Bahrain regime


This 28 December 2018 video says about itself:

Hakeem al Araibi: Football’s Political Prisoner

The story of Hakeem al Araibi, and how regimes punish those that speak out, and how football and the Asian Football Confederation became complicit in that persecution.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

FIFA demands release of Bahraini footballer in Thailand

FIFA, the world football association, demands that the Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi be immediately freed from his Thai prison. Al-Araibi was arrested in Thailand in November at the request of Bahrain and has been in a cell since. Bahrain has asked for his extradition.

Araibi applied for political asylum in Australia in 2014, where he plays with a refugee status at Pascoe Vale, a club in the second division. He was arrested during a holiday to Thailand. …

The case causes a lot of turmoil, especially in Australia. Craig Foster, former Australian team captain, campaigns actively for the release of Araibi and met with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura in Zurich on Monday.

“We all feel that this is an emergency situation that requires steps from all parties involved to protect Hakeem”, Foster said. “We call on Thailand again to release Hakeem immediately and to respect his international human rights.”

Araibi fears that he will be tortured if he would be handed over to Bahrain. “He was physically tortured in 2012 and he knows what lies ahead”, Foster said. “That’s why the Australian footballers have spoken up so strongly.”