British government covering up Bahrain scandal


This video says about itself:

‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain’ – human rights activist

21 October 2013

In an Arab world swept away by revolutions and wars, few states have remained intact. And at what cost? Bahrain has seen protests, arrests and crackdowns on the opposition. Does stability necessarily mean political oppression in the Middle East? Why is Bahrain’s trouble off international media’s radar? We talk to human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of Bahrain’s renowned dissident, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is now in jail.

From Reuters news agency:

Thu May 21, 2015 7:31pm BST

Classified document on Bahrain rankles Britain decades later

By Noah Browning

DUBAI – A legal battle between an activist group and Britain over a decades-old diplomatic cable on Bahrain has exposed a thorny link between the UK’s colonial past and its new military ambitions in a region it once dominated.

The Foreign Office has told a court in London that a censored assessment by a colonial officer of the Gulf Arab island’s ruling Al Khalifa family may harm the UK’s relationship with Bahrain as it seeks to build a naval base there.

The installation will be Britain’s first permanent military presence in the Middle East since it withdrew from Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf region in 1971.

The court ruled at the end of April that more of the document, which is based partly on secret evidence by a top British diplomat, should be exposed, and the Foreign Office has 30 days to appeal.

The two-page report is a 1977 record of a talk between a British official and Ian Henderson, a senior British security chief who advised Bahrain for decades after its independence.

“What surprised me in our conversation was the gloomy view he took of the ability of the Al Khalifa to survive,” the official wrote. The rest of the typewritten paragraph is heavily blacked out.

Marc Owen Jones, a PhD student who brought the case on behalf of UK-based activist group Bahrain Watch, told Reuters he believes the censored parts disparage a living member of the ruling family.

The passages were classified “on the grounds that international relations could be damaged were it to be released. Those grounds still exist,” Edward Oakden, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director, argued in the case.

Bahraini authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

Oakden noted an accord in December to put a long standing UK naval presence in Bahrain on a permanent footing at the Gulf state’s expense, and said disclosing more of the paper could also harm British efforts to reform Bahrain’s security forces.

BULWARK

The move is part of a modest expansion of British military readiness in the region. In 2013 the Royal Air Force established an air transport and refuelling hub in the United Arab Emirates.

Home to the United States’ Fifth Fleet, Bahrain is a strategic bulwark for Western interest in the energy-rich Gulf.

“Western countries seek good relations with Gulf States for defence reasons and also economic reasons,” said Jane Kinninmont, a Middle East expert at London’s Chatham House think tank. She cited rapidly increasing defence budgets in the Gulf that are partly earmarked to buy Western arms.

“The case shows how alive the history of British colonial rule still is in the Gulf today,” she added.

Britain first signed a treaty with the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family in Bahrain in 1820 and their relationship has remained strong for decades after the end of its protectorate.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa skipped a Gulf Arab summit with U.S. President Barack Obama last week and instead joined the Queen for a horse show and to discuss bilateral relations with her.

The kingdom has been buffeted by protests from its Shi’ite majority since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which were put down with help from Saudi Arabia. But unrest within the Shi’ite community stretches back to Henderson’s mandate and before.

Bahrain has denied accusations of torture and political repression by human rights groups, saying it has implemented reforms and greater transparency for its security forces …

Ala’a Shehabi, co-founder of Bahrain Watch, said Britain was putting security interests above resolving historic wrongs in Bahrain, adding that the group will seek to declassify more of the country’s colonial archives on Bahrain.

(The story was refiled to correct typos in ‘respond’ in paragraph 9 and ‘of’ in paragraph 14)

(Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)

Bahraini Nabeel Rajab jailed for tweeting on regime-ISIS links


This video says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

Read more: Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet.

From the International Business Times:

Bahrain upholds prison sentence for Nabeel Rajab over ‘IS defection’ tweet

By Gianluca Mezzofiore

May 14, 2015 10:00 BST

A Bahraini appeals court has upheld a six-month prison sentence for Bahrain’s human rights activist Nabeel Rajab over a tweet that alleged some of the Gulf Kingdom’s soldiers had defected to the Islamic State (Isis).

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was freed in May 2014 after serving two years in prison for his role in the pro-democracy uprising. He was arrested again last October and charged with publicly “insulting a public institution” on the microblogging site.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior said it summoned Rajab “to interview him regarding tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions”.

The tweets related to an article published on Global Voices about alleged Bahraini recruits to Islamic State who featured in a video threatening to overthrow the al-Khalifa regime which rules Bahrain. The activist commented:

many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator

The video included Lieutenant Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, who had defected from the army.

Rajab spoke to IBTimes UK in July 2014 about his time in prison and accused the British government of supporting the bloody al-Khalifa regime in the Gulf Kingdom despite daily human rights violations because of business interests.

He said that the Bahraini government “have bought the silence of the British government by increasing the business” since the start of the crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011.

The arms trade has increased, the business between the UK government and Bahrain has increased after the crackdown over 30%,” he said. “That’s why you see not only silence in the British government but also harassment to human rights defenders and even to the people living in this country and who came seeking asylum from Bahrain.”

Rajab, one of several pro-democracy campaigners arrested in the regime’s clampdown, was considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

More about Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain: Index condemns decision upholding sentence of human rights activist. By Index on Censorship / 14 May, 2015: here.

Amnesty International criticized Thursday’s decision, saying it shows a “complete disregard for the right to freedom of expression”: here.

USA: On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 45 congressional leaders urged President Obama to push the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—to reform their human rights practices. Obama met with leaders in Washington on Wednesday and will meet with them at Camp David today: here.

Gulf human rights abuses in focus as Camp David summit tackles Iran fears. Bahrain confirms controversial prison sentence for Twitter dissident Nabeel Rajab as anxious Arab leaders meet Barack Obama: here.

Human rights, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, USA


This video says about itself:

Saudi Arabia Beheading

17 January 2015

“I did not commit the murder. I did not commit the murder” cries out the woman as she was dragged off to the street to get beheaded. “I will not forgive you. I will not forgive you” she adds telling her executioners that she will not forgive them for what they were about to do to her. She insists crying out “This is injustice. This is injustice”.

From Middle East Eye:

At GCC summit, Obama must confront Saudi on human rights

Husain Abdulla

Monday 11 May 2015 23:00 BST

Obama needs to take advantage of the upcoming GCC summit to pressure Saudi Arabia on its human rights record

While he was once a candidate promoting the “fierce urgency of now,” US President Barack Obama has approached potential reforms to the Saudi government’s human rights violations with caution. Though he recently promised a “tough conversation” with his Gulf Arab allies on the destabilising effects of their restrictive governing systems, he did not specify when this dialogue would take place. Human rights advocates, myself included, took to the press to inform him that his upcoming security summit with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders was the appropriate venue for this frank exchange. With King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s recent resetting of Saudi succession, however, suitability has transformed into urgency. Even as his time in elected office winds down, Obama must push his allies to reform their repressive practices before a new cohort of Saudi leaders locks them in place for another half-century.

When King Salman promoted Interior Minister Mohammed bin Naif and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman to Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince, respectively, some observers hailed the move as a prudent effort to “groom the country’s next generation of leadership”. But if the new line of succession truly marked “the next generation” of Saudi rulers, it represented the same Saudi politics. The reorganisation of the cabinet “concentrated almost all powers under the king” into the hands of two ruling family members who are responsible for some of Saudi Arabia’s most striking human rights abuses.

Under Prince bin Naif’s leadership, the Interior Ministry has purposefully and systematically misconstrued its internal security prerogative, equating dissent with terrorism in order to silence human rights defenders, political activists and members of religious minorities. Utilising specialised criminal courts and a terrorism law that effectively criminalises free speech, the Interior Ministry has brought charges against community activists like Fadhil al-Manasif, human rights advocates like Waleed Abu al-Khair, and religious scholars like Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. Both al-Manasif and Abu al-Khair were sentenced to 15-year prison terms, and Sheikh Nimr was sentenced to death. As Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch notes, Prince bin Naif’s efforts to restrict civil society voices are unprecedented.

Like bin Naif, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just 30 years old, oversees a ministry responsible for committing serious human rights violations. While Prince bin Salman’s Defence Ministry has achieved few of its stated goals in the Yemen campaign, it has succeeded in derailing the former UN envoy’s peace agreement and deepening a massive humanitarian crisis. According to estimates by the UN Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation, over 500 civilians have been killed in the fighting, including at least 115 children. What little infrastructure remains in the war-torn country – one already teetering on the edge of famine – has been rendered mostly inoperable by Saudi blockades preventing the arrival of supplies. Though his tenure has been brief, Prince bin Salman’s disregard for minimising civilian casualties has set a troubling precedent for future Saudi military operations.

The promotion of these two men signals a significant deterioration of the Saudi government’s already alarming human rights record. Gauging this situation, other leaders may shy away from engaging in a “tough conversation” on human rights and basic freedoms. Obama, however, should recognise that a generational shift can also mark the opportunity for a set of once-in-a-generation reforms. At the Camp David summit, he needs to inform his allies that the status quo is unsustainable, and that their current criminalisation of civil society and perpetuation of humanitarian crises pose the greatest threat to their long-term stability.

As Obama has repeatedly acknowledged, an active civil society is vital to ensuring internal security. In a September 2014 Presidential Memorandum on Civil Society, he wrote: “By giving people peaceful avenues to advance their interests and express their convictions, a free and flourishing civil society contributes to stability and helps to counter violent extremism.”

To weather the challenges posed by extremist groups, activists like Fadhil al-Manasif, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr must be promoting peaceful reform in their communities, not languishing in prison or facing execution. At Camp David, President Obama must urge the release of political prisoners and push the Saudi government for greater protections for civil society groups.

While Obama will soon leave the realm of international diplomacy, the next generation of Saudi leaders will remain in politics for decades. Whether they stick with the stability-endangering authoritarian tactics of previous generations will depend, in part, on how the president approaches next week’s GCC summit. He can redefine the security partnership between the US and Saudi Arabia, expanding its prerogatives to encompass the protection of human rights and the guarantee of basic freedoms. This redefinition cannot wait for another summit, or another presidency. The time for urgency is now.

Husain Abdulla, originally from Bahrain, is the founder and executive director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Husain leads the organisation’s efforts to ensure that US policies support the democracy and human rights movement in Bahrain. Husain also works closely with members of the Bahraini-American community to ensure that their voices are heard by US government officials and the broader American public. Husain graduated from the University of South Alabama with a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations and a BA in Political Science and Mathematics.

President Obama should urge the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to show greater respect for human rights when he meets them on May 13 and 14, 2015, to discuss partnership and security: here.

Bahrain: End imprisonment of democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab: here.

Human Rights Defender’s Hunger Strike Protests Torture in Infamous Bahraini Prison: here.

Bahrain: Open Letter from Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on his 21st day of hunger strike to the High Commissioner for Human Rights: here.

Almusawi stressed on the Bahraini Authorities to allow UN torture expert, Mr. Juan Mendez, to see the victims and those concerned about the allegations of torture, degrading and cruel treatment: here.

Bahrain human rights violations news update


This video about Bahrain says about itself:

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar: “Jaw Prison holds over 3000 detainees”

18 February 2014

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar also presented some powerful statistics and case studies, focusing more specifically on the conditions of political prisoners. She retold the stories of Talib Ali, a 15 year old with a 50 year conviction sentence, and Dr. Ali-Ekri, the only specialized paediatrics surgeon in Bahrain who is facing a 5 year sentence simply for treating patients of the uprising. Of the largest prison in Bahrain — Jaw prison — she described how the maximization of the prison’s 1600 people capacity is being overlooked to the extent where the prison now holds over 3000 detainees, with up to 12 inmates having to share cells built for 3-4 people.

Four Years of UK Rights Assistance to Bahrain for What Result? Only More Torture: here.

Former Inmates at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison Describe Being Tortured and Teargassed: here.

How To Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain: here.

Bahrain human rights violations continue


This video says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

Read more: Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet.

From the International Federation for Human Rights :

27 April 2015

Bahrain: Continued judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

New information
BHR 001 / 0415 / OBS 028.3
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
Bahrain
April 27, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.

According to the information received, on April 26, 2015, the Public Prosecution officially charged Mr. Rajab with “disseminating false news in time of war, which may undermine preparations and war operations”, as well as with “openly discrediting a statutory entity”. The Public Prosecution subsequently extended his detention for an additional fifteen days, pending the reception of a report currently prepared by the Ministry of Interior regarding the items seized from Mr. Rajab’s house after his arrest, when the security forces raided his house and seized mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices.

Mr. Rajab was arrested on April 2, 2015 after denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison and the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen via Twitter (see background information).

During a previous hearing at the Prosecutor’s Office, Mr. Rajab was only able to meet with his lawyers a few minutes before the meeting started. The presence of an observer mandated by the Observatory, requested by Mr. Rajab, was denied. The Prosecutor refused to release him pending investigation, despite an existing travel ban against Mr. Rajab. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers were allowed access to his criminal file only after the Public Prosecution decided to extend his detention. However, the lawyers were denied a copy of the file.

Mr. Rajab currently remains in solitary confinement. The Observatory recalls that Mr. Rajab faces additional charges in two other criminal cases, and that the verdict in appeal for one of them is expected on May 4, 2015 (see background information).
The Observatory denounces the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as he is targeted solely for his human rights activities.

The Observatory, more generally, urges the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Rajab, and to comply with relevant international human rights standards and instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Background information:

Mr. Rajab has faced continuous judicial harassment for his legitimate human rights work since his first arrest in June 2012. Mr. Rajab was sentenced to three months imprisonment for allegedly libelling the residents of Al Muharraq via several tweets posted on his twitter account. On August 23, 2012, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was acquitted by the Higher Appeal Court.

On August 16, 2012, the Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to three years of imprisonment in relation to three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy.

In December 2012, the Appeals Court reduced the sentence to two years of imprisonment. Mr. Nabeel Rajab completed his sentence and was released in May 2014.

On October 1, 2014, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was summoned by the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and Electronic Security of the Criminal Investigation Department for “insulting a public institution” via Twitter.

On October 9, 2014, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was informed that the Ministry of Defence had filed a complaint regarding the same tweet. On November 2, 2014, the Third Lower Criminal Court ordered Mr. Rajab’s release but barred him from leaving the country.

On January 20, 2015, the Third Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to six months of imprisonment on charges of “insulting public institutions and the army” via Twitter. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers appealed the sentence.

The trial before the Bahrain Criminal Court of Appeal is continuing and stands adjourned to May 4, 2015.

On February 26, 2015, Mr. Rajab was summoned for investigations in a different case for charges of “inciting hatred towards the regime”. To date, the police investigation is ongoing.

On April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab’s house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.

On April 3, 2015, Mr. Rajab was interrogated in the presence of his lawyers by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . The second charge is “disseminating false rumours in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment. Mr. Rajab refused to sign the police minutes of the investigations.

On April 4, 2015, Mr. Rajab was brought before the Public Prosecution, in the presence of his lawyers. The Prosecution ordered seven days detention pending investigation.

On April 5, 2015, security police confiscated all electronics devices belonging to Mr. Rajab and members of his family.

On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies”. Though the appeal proceedings had been closed and the verdict hearing had been scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab’s lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defence memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May, 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution’s memo. According to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.

On April 11, 2015, the prosecution ordered an additional fifteen days in detention for Mr. Rajab.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nabeel Rajab, as he is targeted solely for his human rights activities;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and that of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Nabeel Rajab and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;
– its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;
– and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

• Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
• Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75; ofd@mofa.gov.bh
• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 133 00; Fax: +973 175 31 284
• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: info@interior.gov.bh
• Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch
• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Avenue Louise 250, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, April 27, 2015.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

Bahrain’s crackdown on free speech could inflame sectarian tensions. EU and US must reconsider relations with Manama in light of human rights record: here.

MEPs letter to HR/VP Mogherini on Human Rights violations in Bahrain. On 30 April 2015, 67 members of the European Parliament signed a letter issued by Ms Julie Ward MEP to the attention of Ms Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative and Vice-President, representing the EU in its Foreign Policy worldwide: here.

Bahrain is ruthlessly crushing dissent and torturing its own citizens, yet Britain is heaping it with praise. The idea peddled by the UK that the country is reforming is a complete myth: here.

The more we learn about Bahrain’s response to the Jaw Prison unrest, the more troubling the picture becomes. The authorities need to allow independent medical access to the prison at once and ensure their access to building 10, where the most serious abuses are alleged to have taken place: here.