Bahraini regime’s links to ISIS

This video says about itself:

British base in Bahrain is “slap in the face for everyone fighting for human rights”

8 December 2014

Activists are protesting in Bahrain. The reason: the country’s plans to host a permanent British military base. They say it’s a reward for London, which ignores human rights violation in Bahrain. The protesters carried banners “Shut up Iain Lindsay” – it’s British ambassador to the country who they want to be sacked. The UK military is expanding in the region after most of its projects were scrapped in the 70’s. The base costs more than 23 million dollars and will be used in fighting ISIS and as a training ground for Syrian rebels. Dominic Kavakeb from Bahrain’s Justice and Development Movement is In the NOW.

By Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, in the New York Times in the USA:

The Islamic State’s Bahraini Backers

NOV. 25, 2015

LONDON — “Sectarianism failed,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, told a news conference attended by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week. It had not gained “a foothold in our country,” he went on, “but we will continue to be on our toes facing it.”

Mr. Kerry spoke, too, about military cooperation against Daesh, the group also known as the Islamic State or ISIS, and about working to “reduce the sectarian divisions together in Bahrain, which we saw resulted in a boycott of an election and challenges internally within the country.”

Characterizing the boycott that led opposition groups to call off participation in Bahrain’s November 2014 general election as sectarian is fundamentally wrong. The sectarianism that exists in Bahraini society is almost the reverse of what Mr. Kerry and Sheikh Khalid described: It comes not from the political opposition, but from within the state itself.

In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry completed an investigation into human rights violations during the Bahraini government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protests earlier that year, and presented its findings to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The king accepted the report’s recommendations as the basis for a reform program.

But the promised change never came. Instead, as a new report from Human Rights Watch details, the Bahraini security forces have continued to torture detainees using methods identical to those the commission documented in 2011. Violence and arbitrariness are widespread from arrest to prison, where collective punishment and beatings are well documented.

The opposition political societies (actual parties are illegal in Bahrain) had simple demands: the formation of a credible, independent judiciary and meaningful steps toward democratization. Because neither of these moderate demands was met in the four years following the Arab Spring, the opposition groups decided to boycott the elections.

With hindsight, this strategy was a mistake. It gave the government of Bahrain carte blanche after the elections, imprisoning opposition leaders like Ebrahim Sharif and Ali Salman. Human rights defenders like Nabeel Rajab suffered arbitrary arrest. Another rights defender, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence, as is the blogger and activist Abduljalil al-Singace. According to a coalition of Bahraini human rights organizations, as many as 4,000 doctors, teachers, students, journalists, photographers and others are detained as political prisoners in Bahrain’s prisons; many have endured torture.

The same week that Sheikh Khalid spoke in Washington, two men had their death sentences upheld by Bahrain’s top appeals court. Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa were convicted of taking part in a bombing that killed a policeman in 2014, but both men claim they were tortured into confessing to the crime.

In 2014, five United Nations human rights experts, including the special rapporteur on torture, expressed concern that Mr. Ramadan, Mr. Moosa and other prisoners had made confessions under severe duress. Yet nothing now separates the two men from the firing squad save King Hamad’s whim — since he may sign either their death warrant or a royal pardon.

While Bahrain imprisons political activists and rights advocates at home, it also participates in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State. The bitter irony of this is that the Islamic State’s Bahraini recruits come not from among the government’s opponents, but from within its own ranks.

Unlike the United States, Britain and France, where typically the Islamic State recruits among alienated young people, in Bahrain the group finds willing jihadists in the establishment. The most prominent Bahraini member of the Islamic State, the terrorist preacher Turki al-Binali, comes from a family closely allied with the Khalifa royal family. Other recruits have come directly from the security forces of Bahrain. (Mr. Rajab, the human rights advocate, was imprisoned for six months recently for pointing out links between the Bahraini military and the Islamic State.)

Another Binali family member who has defected to the Islamic State, Mohamed Isa al-Binali, is a former Interior Ministry officer. He worked in Jaw Prison, a facility notorious for overcrowding and harsh conditions. One former prisoner told me that he’d witnessed Mr. Binali overseeing the ill treatment of juvenile Shiite inmates, not long before Mr. Binali disappeared in 2014 to join the Islamic State.

Mr. Binali was acclimated to violence and hatred in Bahrain’s prison system. This is not something Bahrain will ever admit to: For the government, the embarrassment is too great. But until it does, it cannot possibly combat extremism effectively at home.

This is an extremism of its own making, born out of the destruction of Shiite mosques and the sectarian language that many in government use — as Sheikh Khalid does — in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the democratic opposition. Bahrain, I fear, is heading in the direction of Saudi Arabia, where radical Salafism has fostered sectarianism and terrorism.

On Jan. 31, I discovered that my Bahraini citizenship had been revoked when I woke in London to find my name on a list published by the Bahrain News Agency. Alongside mine were the names of some 50 other activists, journalists and political figures — as well as those of about 20 affiliates of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, including Turki al-Binali and Mohamed al-Binali.

The reasons for revocation ranged from serious terrorism charges to “advocating regime change.” The message could not be clearer: For Bahrain, my human rights work was equivalent to terrorism.

How can a country that willfully refuses to differentiate between peaceful calls for democratic rights and terrorism deal with sectarian extremism? Earlier this year, President Obama promised to have the necessary “tough conversation” about these issues with Persian Gulf state allies. Yet Mr. Kerry just gave Bahrain a pass on the sectarianism at home that is feeding the Islamic State abroad.

Bahrain: NGOs condemn imprisonment and nationality revocation of photographer. Index on Censorship calls for the immediate release of Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi. Bahrain must end the criminalization of free speech and press: here.

36 Bahraini receive 429 years in prison, 13 stripped of citizenship: here.

Bahraini governmental torture update

Bahrain, capital of torture, demonstration signs

Bahrain torture report undermines UK’s reform claims. New accounts of prisoner mistreatment documented in Human Rights Watch report, undermining British claims that Gulf ally has reformed security services: here.

Bahrain’s security forces torture detainees using electric shocks, beatings and sexual abuse, despite a public pledge by the king of Bahrain four years ago to end such practices, according to a report released on Monday by the New York-based Human Rights Watch: here.

Bahrain tortured detainees years after 2011 protests, Human Rights Watch says: here.

Torture still happening in Bahrain jails: HRW: here.

Bahrain sexually abuses detainees, still ‘capital of torture’ despite UK support – HRW: here.

Bahrain security forces ‘continue to torture detainees‘: here.

Bahrain refuses to prosecute police who tortured journalist: here.

Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government to increase pressure on the Bahraini regime to implement all 26 recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) four years after the report’s release: here.

Bahrain authorities violate the rights of hundreds of children against the convention on the Rights of the Child: here.

The one-year-old daughter of Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has been deprived of Bahraini citizenship on political grounds, Salman’s wife announced: here.

Bahrain, dictatorship and football news update

This video says about itself:

Cameraman Films, Bahrain Police Shoot Him In Body With Gas Canister

19 May 2012

An activist demanding reform of the absolute Bahrain monarchy is shot directly while he raises his camera to film the brutal police who are cracking down against the popular uprising. The Bahrain monarchy appears to finally realise that its days are over, and has essentially given up most of its sovereignty to become a province of neighbouring Saudi Arabia in a new union between the two states.

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today called for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman and Ebrahim Sharif, two of Bahrain’s most prominent peaceful political opposition leaders. Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s main peaceful opposition group Al Wefaq, is appealing a conviction on political charges. Sharif, a leader of the opposition group Waad, is currently on trial in Bahrain for comments made during a speech calling for reform. Their next hearings are both scheduled for Thursday, November 12: here.

From the New York Times in the USA today:

FIFA Ethics Review Clears 5 Candidates to Succeed Sepp Blatter


ZURICH — Five of the seven men hoping to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, have passed an internal ethics review and have been formally cleared to run in a February election, the group’s electoral committee announced on Thursday. …

The seventh candidate, Michel Platini of France, the head of the European confederation UEFA, submitted paperwork to enter the race on Oct. 8, only hours before he was provisionally suspended by FIFA amid a corruption investigation by the Swiss authorities.

The chairman of the electoral committee, Domenico Scala, has said he will not consider the candidacy of Mr. Platini, who was once regarded as the favorite to replace Mr. Blatter, or perform an ethics review of him until the suspension is lifted. …

But the announcement regarding the remaining five candidates was also not without controversy.

The organization approved Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, president of the Asian soccer confederation and a member of Bahrain’s royal family. Rights activists have accused him of playing a part in the jailing and torture of soccer players from Bahrain who peacefully demonstrated against his family’s rule during the Arab Spring in 2011. …

Rights advocates have held firm. “If FIFA has any hope to move past corruption and scandal, it must begin by disqualifying Sheikh Salman from the presidential race,” Husain Abdulla, executive director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, said in an email. …

The activists specifically charged that Sheikh Salman had led a committee that studied pictures of pro-democracy demonstrations and identified athletes who had participated in them. At least three soccer players, the groups said, were later detained and tortured; upon their release, they were exiled from the Bahrain national team.

“Everything we have presented, from the testimonies of tortured soccer players to the Bahrain Football Association statements, are already on the public record,” Mr. Abdulla wrote in the email. “The crackdown is an incontestable fact.”

THE Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) slammed Fifa yesterday for adding a “human rights abuser to their profile” after Sheik Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa passed their presidential candidacy integrity check. Khalifa has been accused of being complicit in the detention of footballers and other athletes while head of the Bahrain Football Association: here.

British government helps Bahraini human rights violations

This video says about itself:

Britain, Bahrain, and torture

26 March 2015

The leader of the largest party in Bahrain is in court today for promoting political change. The UK continues to support the gulf state, with Cameron refusing to even countenance the boycott of the Bahrain Grand Prix. With recent footage showing a protest apparently shot for holding up a picture of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, will Britain step away from a regime dogged with accusations of a human rights record that includes torture. And the government also failed to respond to calls to arrest Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who posted a selfie video of him running in Hyde Park last week.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Royal Navy base construction begins in Bahrain as Britain seeks a return to ‘East of Suez

The major strategic shift has dismayed human rights campaigners

Jamie Merrill

Sunday 1 November 2015

Construction has begun on a controversial Royal Navy base in Bahrain, as Britain’s seeks a return to “East of Suez” in a major strategic shift that has dismayed human rights campaigners.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond travelled to the Gulf kingdom this weekend to break ground on HMS Juffair, the first major naval base opened by Britain in the east of the Suez canal since 1971.

The ceremony [at] Mina Salman Port in Bahrain comes as the UK is pushing to strengthen economic and military ties in the region, but has prompted outcry from human rights campaigners who say the ruling Al Khalifa family in Bahrain is overseeing an on-going crackdown on human rights and freedom of expression.

Mr Hammond said the beginning of construction at Mina Slaman Port marked a “watershed moment” in the UK’s commitment to the region and ensuring stability in the Gulf.

The Royal Navy base was first announced in December last year, amid allegations the base was “reward” for Britain’s silence over on-going human rights violations in the Gulf state. Since then Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have noted with growing concern that the Bahraini government has arrested a sting of political leaders.

This weekend’s announcement that construction has started on the base, which will support four UK minesweepers as well as visiting frigates and destroyers, has provoked fresh criticism as it comes after a major Amnesty International report found that human rights abuses continued “unabated” in Bahrain.

The report, which was released earlier this year, documented dozens of cases of detainees being beaten, deprived of sleep and adequate food, burned with cigarettes, sexually assaulted and subjected to electric shocks.

“All the British government’s policies show is a commitment to military expansion at the cost of human rights,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Bahrain continues to systemically arbitrarily arrest, torture and silence any critic of the government. This new base is totally inappropriate.”

Campaigners are also dismayed that the Royal Navy has chosen to name HMS Juffair after a 1930s colonial base in the country, amid suggestions that the UK is “celebrating a legacy of repression”. …

The base will provide support and accommodation for around 80 UK military personnel based in Bahrain, and end a British reliance on the facilities of the far larger US Navy Fifth Fleet which is also based at the port. It is expected to be complete by autumn 2016 and will eventually provide port facilities for the Royal Navy’s new generation of aircraft carriers.

It is expected to be opposed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who put down an Early Day Motion in Parliament against the new base in February. It argued that the base would be “deeply upsetting for those who suffered human rights abuses by the government of Bahrain” and would “exacerbate tensions in the region.”

See also here.

Questions raised over legality of new UK base in Bahrain: here.

Top Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab calls for release of al-Singace to attend his mother’s funeral: here.

Also from The Independent, 1 November 2015:

UK-Saudi talks on ‘judicial co-operation’

Britain is still in discussions with Saudi Arabia about co-operating on justice issues despite cancelling a bid to run prison training services in the Gulf state, the Human Rights minister has revealed.

Dominic Raab said the British Embassy in Riyadh was in “ongoing discussions” with the Saudi authorities on possible areas of judicial co-operation but that the Government has not yet carried out any work in the country.

The talks relate to a memorandum of understanding signed in September 2014 designed to foster “dialogue on human rights and an exchange of expertise on justice and legal matters”, according to the Government.

The admission – in a series of written parliamentary answers to Labour’s justice spokesman Andy Slaughter – comes just weeks after the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, succeeded amid cabinet opposition in cancelling the £5.9m prison training bid in Saudi Arabia – a country notorious for public beheadings, floggings and torture.

Arj Singh

Bahrain dictatorship and football update

This video says about itself:

E:60 – Taken / Athletes of Bahrain

8 November 2011

Produced by Yaron Deskalo of ESPN. Filmed and Edited by Evolve Digital Cinema.

What if a country’s biggest athlete, a legend, a hero, a player who brought the nation some of its biggest sporting moments, was at practice one day and was suddenly taken into custody by masked men? What if he was held for months, tortured, his career ended, banned from his team and for playing for his country, all because he expressed his political views? It’s not a storyline from a Hollywood script — that is what allegedly happened in Bahrain.

Specifically, it’s what Alaa Hubail says happened to him. Hubail is the most famous soccer player in Bahrain and says similar treatment was forced on his brother, Mohammad, also a member of Bahrain’s national soccer team; and to Anwar Al-Makki, Bahrain’s internationally ranked table-tennis champion. In a story largely ignored by the Western world, these athletes describe in detail the horrific torture they endured at the hands of their government — a government that is allied with the United States despite allegations of human rights abuses against pro-democracy protestors. E:60 goes to the Middle East for the first time to investigate how athletes were caught up in the clash of democracy, freedom, repression and politics. Jeremy Schaap reports.

From the Human Rights First site in the USA:

October 28, 2015

Bahraini Sheikh and FIFA Presidential Hopeful Continues to Dodge Allegations over Targeting Athletes

By Brian Dooley

FIFA Presidential hopeful Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of the Bahrain ruling family has failed to adequately answer questions about his part in the violent crackdown against pro-democracy protests in 2011. In a BBC interview last night, he dismissed the reports as “nasty lies” that he was involved in identifying footballers and other athletes who were targeted – and some jailed – during 2011.

Associated Press estimated that more than 150 athletes, coaches, and referees were targeted, and some jailed for their perceived part in the protests. There are several major issues he has failed to answer in connection to what happened four years ago:

First, it’s not clear if he is denying involvement in what happened or if he’s disputing that the targeting and jailing of athletes happened at all by the Bahraini government, which is headed by his family. There are numerous press reports that athletes were jailed, and their targeting was reported in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, a body set up by the Bahrain government itself to investigate what happened in early 2011. Is Sheikh Al Khalifa denying these things happened, or that he had no part in them?

Second, his response to his role in identifying those to be targeted is rhetorical and inadequate “[did] I need to get involved in this?” There has so far been no satisfying response to The Guardian‘s discovery a few days ago revealing that he was named in an official April 2011 media statement by Bahrain’s state news agency as the lead investigator on an official committee investigating the athletes who had joined the protests. Is Sheikh Al Khalifa denying he was part of this committee?

Third, Sheikh Al Khalifa says he should be judged by those in football who know him. “Ask anyone in football about myself,” he suggests. Will Sheikh Al Khalifa allow foreign journalists into Bahrain to ask footballers and other targeted athletes what they think of him and what role, if any, they believe he played in their identification?

Sheikh Al Khalifa says he offers FIFA “fresh blood.” It’s an unfortunate phrase given the context, and he needs to explain far better than he has what role he played in the targeting of footballers and other athletes in 2011.

If Uefa had any moral backbone it would consider withdrawing from Fifa, by Marina Hyde. The only way these seven Fifa presidential candidates could be considered new brooms is if they were placed next to a recently unearthed fossilised sweeping implement believed to date back to the early Iron Age: here.

The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) stated that the Bahraini child Ali Abdullah Isa (15 years old) was recently arrested in a raid on his father’s house in Zayed city in the early hours of the morning by members of civilian security forces and was taken to the juvenile detention center. BFHR added that he “was harshly beaten and tortured, despite his medical condition as he suffers from sickle cell anemia and was born with a punctured heart,” calling for his immediate release: here.

October 30, 2015, 05:00 pm. US must push for reform in Bahrain. By Brian Dooley: here.