British Sandhurst academy trains Saudi, Bahraini, UAE dictatorships’ officers


This video says about itself:

25 November 2015

A new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report says that security forces in Bahrain are still torturing detainees.

From the Daily Mirror in Britain:

Sandhurst academy is training officers from brutal Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE regimes

22 Jan 2016

By Jason Beattie

Since 2006, Sandhurst has offered taxpayer-subsidised training to 843 officers from other countries including some of the worst for human rights abuse

The British military is training hundreds of officers from regimes with appalling human rights records, figures reveal.

Recruits from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have received officer training at the elite Sandhurst military school.

All these countries have been criticised for their human rights records with some using the military to suppress opposition and dissent.

Read more: Britain training Saudi Police

Parliamentary figures released to the Lib Dems show that since 2006, Sandhurst has offered taxpayer-subsidised training to 843 officers from other countries.

These include 66 recruits from Bahrain which is accused of engaging in systematic torture, extra-judicial killing and enforced disappearances.

Read more: Britain’s sellout to Saudi Arabia is shameful

Saudi [Arabia] has sent 22 to Sandhurst. The country is ranked as one of the 12 worst in the world for human rights abuses and has executed 47 people already this year.

Its military are involved in the civil war in Yemen where thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by the Saudi air force.

The UAE has sent 82 officers at the Sandhurst military academy. Amnesty International says the country is accused of torture and has illegally detained scores of people, including foreign nationals.

And more than 100 officers from Oman and Qatar have been trained by the British military.

In Oman the military and security services are used to clamp down on dissent, while the Qatari government is accused of silencing opponents and allowing the abuse of migrant workers.

Although the countries contribute towards the cost of the training, the Ministry of Defence admits they are also supported through UK funding.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron MP said: “These Sandhurst sheikhs are sitting in our military academics, learning from our best and then taking these things back to regimes that repress their population and trample all over human rights.

“People will look at this and think why are we selling weapons to Saudi, training Bahrainis and then sitting there while they oppress their population.

“Shared military training with our allies is a fantastic resource, but it is time to stand up for the values we talk about so much – democracy and human rights. British forces provide some of the best military training in the world, but the privilege to train with our top class troops should be reserved to those foreign armed forces who share our values and our strict adherence to humanitarian law in combat.”

That ‘adherence’ is not always ‘strict’. Eg, look at the British torture scandals in Iraq.

“I believe we need to end to the training of overseas royals from regimes with terrible human rights records at Sandhurst.”

Britain’s Royal Military Academy is paid millions to train officers for repressive Gulf dictatorships. Sandhurst trains hundreds of cadets who violently crack down on dissent in Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait: here.

‘Sandhurst sheikhs’: calls to stop training cadets from Gulf states with bad rights records. Lib Dems urge action after MoD figures show rise in revenues from Gulf states that imposed repressive measures after Arab spring: here.

The Bahrain government is hosting a human rights conference tomorrow. Yes, really. It’s a bit like Lance Armstrong holding a summit on ethics in sports, but Bahrain’s PR strategy is so poorly advised that the kingdom is busily promoting and publicizing the conference, apparently oblivious to the reputational damage to its international image every time someone hears “Bahrain” and “human rights” in the same sentence: here.

Football: Letter to Fifa sponsors expresses concerns over [Bahraini royal] Sheikh Salman’s human rights record: here.

Bahrain campaigners warn Fifa sponsors of concerns over Sheikh Salman: here.

January 27, 2016. Bahrain: Torture Allegations Expose Sham Reforms. Prosecutions, Unfair Trials for Exercising Free Speech: here.

Where doctors were arrested, tortured: ‘Witness Bahrain’ screening in Ridgefield Feb. 6 shows life after Arab Spring: here.

PanARMENIAN.Net – The Armenian government has refused to extradite a Bahraini activist who was arrested in Armenia last month after fleeing Bahrain to avoid imprisonment on what human rights groups consider politically motivated charges, RFE/RL Armenian Service reports: here.

European Parliament condemns death penalty, torture in Bahrain. Body called for pardon for a man sentenced to death after allegedly confessing under torture: here.

Saudi Arabia is setting a dangerous precedent to the Government of Bahrain. Bahrain is suppressing dissent by rendering citizens stateless and condemning them to death; all under the watchful eye of its neighbour: here.

Bahrain’s Arab Spring, new book


This video says about itself:

The Revolt That Never Went Away — Bahrain: An Inconvenient Uprising

10 November 2014

Like many countries in the Middle East and beyond, Bahrain erupted with anti-authoritarian protests in 2011 when the Arab Spring took the region and many of its repressive leaders by surprise.

While Arab Spring uprisings found favor with many in the West, unfortunately for the people of Bahrain, their own revolution was largely forgotten. But it never went away — for three years, near-nightly protests have been brutally quashed by militarized security forces.

Earlier this year, VICE News correspondent Ben Anderson travelled to London to speak with Nabeel Rajab, the unofficial leader of Bahrain’s uprising, and then headed undercover to Bahrain, where he met activists, protestors, grieving parents, and alleged torture victims.

Check out “Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet” – here.

Watch “The VICE News Interview: Abdullah Elshamy” – here.

By Andrew Murray in Britain:

Timely reminder of Arab Spring‘s forgotten casualty

Thursday 14th January 2016

Bahrain’s Uprising

Edited by Ala’a Shehabi and Marc Owen Jones

(Zed Books, £18.99)

BAHRAIN, where more than anywhere else along the Persian Gulf the people rose up against their regime to assert their democratic and human rights, is the forgotten calamity of the Arab spring.

They were met by rigid repression on the part of the ruling Khalifa family.

But behind the Bahraini dictators stood still more potent opponents of democratic advance.

The Saudi tyranny sent its armed forces across the causeway connecting the two states to provide the military coup de grace to the democratic movement.

And then there is the British government. Under successive imperialist foreign secretaries William Hague and the incumbent Philip Hammond, every nerve has been strained to support the Khalifa regime and to rehabilitate its reputation as speedily as possible after the 2011 suppression of the people’s uprising.

British support is far more than diplomatic. A Scotland Yard policeman John Yates, who loomed large and obtuse in the Murdoch phone-hacking saga, has been dispatched to advise the Bahraini authorities on policing techniques.

The British navy has gone “east of Suez” by reopening its Bahraini base this year. And the present employment minister Priti Patel was a PR shill for the regime before entering Parliament.

As Hammond publicly assured the Bahraini ruler 12 months ago: “Your security is our security, your prosperity is our prosperity, your stability is our stability.” That is indeed the policy Britain has been following towards the notional rulers — marionettes, more realistically — of this Gulf statelet for the past 200 years. He could have added: “Your torturers are, in fact, our torturers.”

For Bahrain is ruled by terror and torture, as this excellent collection of articles on the country’s uprising for freedom and its repression amply exposes. Democracy activists are routinely tortured, sometimes to death, and almost all political activity crushed.

This is justified on the sectarian grounds that because most of Bahrain’s people are Shi’ite Muslim they are, unlike its Sunni ruling family, therefore susceptible to Iranian influence.

In fact, the sectarian game being stoked up across the Middle East by Saudi Arabia, with US acquiescence, finds little echo in Bahrain. The 2011 movement was explicitly non-sectarian, aiming to unite all behind democratic demands. No more was it “terrorist,” the catch-all smear of imperialism and its stooges to cover any and every movement for liberation in the region.

Bahrain’s Uprising details the aspirations and activities of the uprising which, as elsewhere during the Arab spring, aroused so much hope. It also outlines the continuing work being done, particularly among the large Bahraini exile community in Britain, to keep those hopes alive and maintain pressure on the regime.

Essays detail the history of British neocolonial supervision of Bahrain — which has really not changed essentially down the years — and the history of brutal policing there, generally under the watchful eye of Scotland Yard and other foreign experts.

This book is to be recommended as an introduction and guide to the struggle for freedom in Bahrain, one which the progressive movement in Britain has a particular responsibility to embrace and support. Democracy and human rights will come to the suffering people of Bahrain through the defeat of British imperialism.

‘Journalism is terrorism’, Bahraini government says


This 7 April 2015 video, recorded in Italy, is called How the regime of Bahrain is attacking journalism by Ali Abdulemam.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Bahrain accuses journalist of supporting terrorism

New York, January 6, 2016–Bahraini authorities should immediately release journalist Mahmoud al-Jaziri and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The terrorism charges were announced amid escalating sectarian tensions in Bahrain and other Gulf countries.

The Bahraini Interior Ministry today named Al-Jaziri, a reporter for the opposition daily Al-Wasat, as among those arrested for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA). That announcement came amid a deepening diplomatic rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Bahrain, after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr on Saturday. It also followed years of official persecution–including the 2011 death in custody of a founding investor–of Al-Wasat staff.

“The Bahraini government has long sought to silence Al-Wasat,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “We call on the authorities to release Mahmoud al-Jaziri immediately and drop all charges against him.”

Police arrested Al-Jaziri from his home on Nabih Saleh Island, south of the capital Manama, on the morning of December 28. He was allowed to call his brother later in the day to say he was being held for criminal investigation, local human rights groups and Al-Wasat reported. Al-Jaziri’s lawyer, Wafaa Marhon, told Al-Wasat on December 31 that prosecutors had not produced any evidence against her client.

But on January 4, two days after Al-Nimr’s execution, Al-Jaziri was referred to a special prosecutor for terrorist crimes, who charged him with supporting terrorism, inciting hatred of the regime, having contacts with a foreign country, and seeking to overthrow the regime by joining Al-Wafaa and the February 14 Youth Movement, which has organized protests since the 2011 uprising, according to news reports. The Interior Ministry statement carried by BNA today listed Al-Jaziri and three other recently arrested men as members of an armed wing of Al-Wafaa that was plotting bombings in cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.

Mansoor Al-Jamri, editor-in-chief of Al-Wasat and CPJ’s 2011 International Press Freedom Awardee, told CPJ that Al-Jaziri denied all these charges and that he told prosecutors that his relationship with Al-Wafaa had never extended past proofreading the group’s public statements, and that he had stopped even that activity after he became a professional journalist in 2012. Al-Jamri said Al-Jaziri covers parliamentary news for Al-Wasat.

On the day of his arrest, Al-Jaziri had reported on a member of parliament’s proposal to deny housing to Bahrainis whose citizenship the government had revoked for their political activities. Over the course of 2013-2014, he had also written a series of opinion articles for Al-Wasat in which he blamed world and regional powers for what he called the “failures” of the 2011 uprisings collectively called the “Arab Spring,” criticized the lack of compromise in the region’s conflicts, and called for closer relationships between predominantly Sunni and Shiite countries in the region.

Last year, at least four bloggers were stripped of their Bahraini citizenship because of their critical writings, according to CPJ research. Bahrain was holding at least five journalists behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1, 2015.

Bahrain: Arrest and detention of human rights defender Dr Saeed Al Samahiji: here.

January 8, 2016 – 16:35 AMT. PanARMENIAN.Net – A number of human rights organizations have issued a statement expressing severe concern over the case of Bahraini activist, Fadhil Radhi, who was detained in Armenia following his escape from Bahrain after being sentenced to seven years in prison on political and arbitrary reasons: here.

Saudi government beheads, people protest


In this Thursday, April 1, 2010 file photo, activists from a civil organization reenact an execution scene in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as they protest a possible beheading of a Lebanese man accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia

On this Thursday, April 1, 2010 photo, activists from a civil organization reenact an execution scene in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, as they protest a possible beheading of a Lebanese man accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia.

From CBC News in Canada:

Bahrain police use water cannons, birdshot at Nimr al-Nimr execution protest

Jan 03, 2016 2:46 PM ET

Police in Bahrain have fired birdshot and used water cannons to push back demonstrators protesting Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric.

The protest happened Sunday on Sitra Island, south of Bahrain‘s capital, Manama. …

Hundreds also marched in al-Daih, west of Manama, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family and the Sunni family ruling Bahrain.

These protests followed demonstrations Saturday after Saudi Arabia announced it had executed al-Nimr. Bahrain‘s Interior Ministry announced Sunday it had arrested “several rioters and vandals … along with a small number of people who misused social media for illegal purposes” over the protests.

Al-Nimr was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy but denied ever calling for violence. …

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said it was not clear those killed were granted effective legal defence, while the scale of the executions was very disturbing “particularly as some of those sentenced to death were accused of non-violent crimes“.

Judicial process unfair, say rights groups

Human rights groups say the kingdom’s judicial process is unfair, pointing to accusations that confessions have been secured under torture and that defendants in court have been denied access to lawyers.

Many people all over the world are appalled by the mass executions in Saudi Arabia. However, not so, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who whitewashes them.

Meanwhile, Mr Nimr’s supporters in eastern Saudi Arabia prepared for three days of mourning at a mosque in al-Awamiya in the kingdom’s al-Qatif region, following protests on Saturday where police fired tear gas and small shotgun pellets: here.

Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world, the dictatorial monarchy of Saudi Arabia, ushered in the New Year with a torrent of blood, simultaneously executing 47 prisoners: here.

The coming Saudi crack-up? President Obama, like generations of Western leaders, has coddled the oil-rich Saudi monarchy by tolerating its reactionary politics, its financing of radical Islam and its military support for Sunni jihadist terrorism. But the spoiled Saudi leaders may finally be going too far: here.

Bahraini torture prince succeeding Blatter at FIFA?


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 International Business Times:

Sheikh Salman: Bahrain royal accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ favourite to replace Fifa’s Sepp Blatter

By Callum Paton

December 22, 2015 13:38 GMT

Fifa’s decision to immediately ban former president Sepp Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini from football for eight years has renewed attention on Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa. President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Fifa presidential hopeful, the Bahraini royal is accused of crimes against humanity.

In the run up to February’s election for a Fifa president to replace Blatter, Salman is odds-on favourite at 6-5, ahead of Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein at 13-8, with UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino 5-2, Reuters reported. Jerome Champagne is a 20-1 outsider, with South African Tokyo Sexwale at 25-1.

Blatter and Platini were found guilty of breaking Fifa’s code of conduct regarding a £1.3m ($2m) payment made to the Frenchman in 2011. Both have also received fines, with Blatter ordered to pay £33,700 and Platini £54,000. Defiant to the end, Blatter questioned his suspension saying he had become a punching bag.

Salman has been accused by local human rights groups in Bahrain and international organisations of crimes against humanity perpetrated during the country’s 2011 uprising which was put down with military help from Saudi Arabia.

In particular, Salman is alleged to have headed a committee which identified dissenting athletes and sports personalities in 2011 and then had them imprisoned and tortured.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has said 150 athletes, coaches and referees were jailed as a result of Salman’s actions. It said at least six members of the Bahraini national team were “defamed and tortured following their public identification and humiliation by authorities, including the Bahrain Football Association.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD, said: “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.”

Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch has said Fifa will sink even lower than its nadir under Blatter if it elects Salman. “Can Fifa stoop any lower? Yes, if it selects as its head [a] Bahrain sheikh complicit in torture,” he said.

Bahrainis Hold 25 Peaceful Protests during 1st Week of December; 13 Citizens Arrested: here.

Bahrain’s security forces have a detained a reporter following the publication of an article on a bill seeking to deprive families of state-provided homes if the household head has had his nationality revoked, according to local human rights activists: here.

Stop Bahraini regime’s human rights violations


This video is a 2013 interview with Mohammed Al-Maskati.

From Human Rights First in the USA:

December 21, 2015

Bahrain Urged to Dismiss Case Against Human Rights Defender Mohammed Al-Maskati

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today urged Bahraini authorities to immediately dismiss the politically-motivated case against prominent human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati. A Bahraini court is scheduled to hear his appeal on December 22.

“The charges brought against Mohammed Al-Maskati are crude political intimidation for his legitimate human rights work,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The charges against him are reprisals for exposing Bahrain’s human rights problems to an international audience. We’ve spoken at public events together in the U.S. Congress, and he is a credible, articulate witness to the regime’s repression. That’s exactly what the Bahraini authorities are scared of, and that’s why they’ve targeted him. The U.S. government should immediately and publicly call for the case against him be dropped.”

Al-Maskati is the founder and former president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR). He was detained, interrogated, and charged with allegedly “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering” in October 2012. The charges were in reference to a protest in Manama in which he participated. He was brought to trial in June 2013 and sentenced to six months in prison in December 2014, but he has remained free on bail until now as he prepares for the upcoming appeal. Al-Maskati’s case is named in the U.S. government’s 2014 Country Report on Human Rights Practices as an example of the government’s practice of arresting and harassing local NGO leaders.

The Bahraini government has failed to fully implement the recommendations from the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, which would set the country on a path toward necessary reforms. Human Rights First recently released a new fact sheet detailing Bahrain’s backslide on human rights since the BICI report’s release and urging U.S. policymakers to press its military ally to introduce crucial reforms before the situation in Bahrain deteriorates further.  The charges against Al-Maskati are further evidence of Bahrain’s lack of meaningful progress on human rights issues.

Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to publicly press the Bahraini regime to drop politically-motivated prosecutions and promote an inclusive political solution to its crisis. Human Rights First also urges members of Congress to support S.2009 and H.R.3445, legislation that would ban the transfer of small arms to the Bahraini military until the 26 recommendations in the BICI report have been fully implemented.

“As Bahrain continues to intimidate human rights defenders, including through the courts, the U.S. government’s failure to take more vigorous action on the human rights situation in Bahrain is damaging its credibility in the region. The United States should make it known that its military allies in the Gulf do not get a free pass when it comes to crackdowns on civil society,” added Dooley.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.

Outspoken Bahraini human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati faces six months in prison if an appeals court uphold a sentence handed down one year ago for his human rights activities. The undersigned organisations call for the verdict to be overturned when his case is heard by the Court of Appeals on 22 December 2015, and call for an end to the more than three years of judicial harassment of Al-Maskati: here.

A now familiar story in Bahrain: another human rights defender is sentenced to jail on trumped up charges while known torturers and human rights violators walk free. This week a Bahraini court sentenced Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, to two years in prison and a 500 dinar fine: here.