Bahraini human rights woman Zainab Al Khawaja jailed

Zainab Al Khawaja

From Human Rights First:

March 14, 2016

Bahraini Human Rights Defender Zainab Al Khawaja Taken by Security Forces

Washington, DC – Human Rights First is alarmed at reports that prominent Bahraini human rights defender Zainab Al Khawaja and her baby were seized from her home today by security officers. Al Khawaja has been sentenced to over three years in jail for a series of non-violent protests against the dictatorship.

“This is a terrible development,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Taking her back into custody only deepens Bahrain’s political crisis. She’s a symbol of peaceful, thoughtful protest. The U.S. government should immediately and publicly call for her release.”

Reports indicate that security forces broke into Al Khawaja’s apartment around 3:45 p.m. local time today (8:45 a.m. EST). They took her and her 15 month old son, Hadi, to Al Hoora police station.

“Those of us who know Zainab know that she is exactly the sort of person Bahrain needs if it is to get itself out of its current mess. She should be playing a full part in creating a new, modern, Bahrain, not silenced in jail,” said Dooley.

Al Khawaja’s father Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence following his human rights activism during the 2011 pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

February 14 marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal government crackdown on mass protests calling for democratic reform in Bahrain. Human Rights First released a new blueprint, “How to Reverse Five Years of Failure on Bahrain,” that examines conditions in Bahrain, the strengths and shortcomings of the U.S. response, and potential opportunities for the U.S. government to support civil society and strengthen respect for human rights.

The blueprint outlines key missteps in U.S. policy in Bahrain since the 2011 uprising, which include failing to back up rhetoric in support of human rights and civil society with action, and decisions to downplay these priorities in favor of short-term military objectives.

The Danish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it was closely eyeing the reported detainment of Danish citizen Zainab al-Khawaja, an outspoken critic of the Bahraini regime: here.

Zainab al-Khawaja was taken into custody along with her baby boy before authorities transferred them to the Isa Town women’s prison: here.

Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja has begun a two-month prison sentence for tearing up a photo of the king, her lawyer said today: here.

Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was arrested and taken into custody today along with her baby son Hadi, Amnesty International said: here.

‘Prisoner of conscience’: Free Bahraini mother convicted for human rights work, demands Amnesty: here.

Bahrain authorities detain prominent activist and her one year old son: here.

Bahrain Detains Activist and Her Baby Son in Ongoing ‘Cat-and-Mouse’ Crackdown: here.

Bahrain’s Window Dressing Reforms Can’t Hide Botch Job: here.

Bahrain regime continues violating human rights

This video is called Bahrain police attacking women with weapons bought from UK government.

Five Years on From the Uprising, the UK Is Still Fuelling Oppression in Bahrain: here.

Outrage as UK trade show sells tear gas and riot shields to ‘human rights abusers’: here.

Bahrain: Alarming spike in expulsion of citizens arbitrarily stripped of their nationality: here.

US journalist, arrested in Bahrain, interviewed

This video from the USA says about itself:

Exclusive: U.S. Journalist Detained Covering Bahrain Protests Gives 1st Interview Since Release

25 February 2016

In an exclusive interview, we speak with one of four U.S. journalists who were detained in the Gulf state of Bahrain and released Sunday after an international outcry. Anna Therese Day and her camera crew were in Bahrain during protests marking the fifth anniversary of the kingdom’s February 2011 uprising.

Bahraini authorities accused the group of falsely representing themselves as tourists and claimed one of them participated in an attack on police. They were taken into custody and charged with illegal assembly with the intent to commit a crime. During their interrogation, they were initially denied an attorney and prevented from speaking with family members.

Human Rights First said the arrest of the journalists is part of a continuing crackdown on dissent in Bahrain. This comes as the group renews its call for the release of Bahraini opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif, who was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday for a 2015 speech in which he called for change. The Bahraini government has fought to suppress opposition protesters and journalists since the uprising in 2011 that was crushed by martial law and U.S.-backed forces from Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is a close ally of the United States and is home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf.

U.S. Journalist Says Bahrain Deprived Her Team Of Food, Water & Sleep During Detention. Freelancer Anna Therese Day is speaking out about what she describes as a terrifying 48 hours in the Persian Gulf country: here.

An American reporter speaks out about her detention in Bahrain: here.

The U.S. Should Speak Out Against the Sentencing of Ibrahim Sharif: here.

Football: A former Bahrain international has claimed in a German documentary that FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is lying about his knowledge of players being tortured in the Middle Eastern state: here.

Bahrainis responded to a Twitter campaign call to press the Dry Dock prison administration to improve the poor conditions of the facility and remove the glass barriers that keep the detainees apart from their families and children during scheduled visits. The prison is a remand center where detainees are placed until the courts decide on their cases. Many prisoners have been there for months as their detentions are renewed and trials adjourned several times, whilst deprived from hugging or even shaking hands with family members and children: here.

“They told me they were going to cut my penis if I didn’t give them the information”. A refugee from Bahrain discribes how the UK’s close ally treats those who demand democracy: here.

Bahrain torture and football news

This 2014 video is called ‘People were tortured in front of my eyes’: Bahrain top human rights activist Nabeel Rajab released.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Shadow of Human Rights Abuse Follows Contender in FIFA Vote


FEB. 24, 2016

ZURICH — Nothing has rocked international soccer quite like the waves of arrests made across several continents last year as the United States announced bribery and corruption charges against the men running the sport, the world’s biggest and richest. But as the organization that governs global soccer gathers this week to choose a new president, a leading contender risks stirring up another source of controversy for the sport: human rights.

With the election set to be held here on Friday, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family of Bahrain and the president of the governing body for soccer in Asia, might already have the support of a commanding number of voting countries, making him one of the favorites, with Gianni Infantino, to replace Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA.

Critics have seized on one aspect of Sheikh Salman’s background that remains unclear: They want FIFA to investigate whether he had any connection to the jailing and torture of Bahraini athletes who peacefully protested his family’s rule in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

Sheikh Salman ‘knew about player beatings’, says ex-Bahrain international: here.

FIFA presidential hopeful Prince Ali bin al-Hussein has been reprimanded for raising questions about his Bahraini rival’s human rights record. Despite presenting himself as untainted by Fifa’s dodgy dealings due to only arriving at the top table recently, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa has been accused of dobbing in athletes who were involved in pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011: here.

Shaikh Salman’s own goal cost him the top job at FIFA: here.

Bahrain Finds Opposition Leader Guilty of Opposition: here.

Repression continues in Bahrain in an increasingly tense regional environment: here.

Bahraini monarchy arrests United States journalists

This video says about itself:

15 February 2016

According to U.S. officials, four journalists, including at least one American, have been detained in Bahrain and have not yet been released. The journalists were in the country reporting on the fifth anniversary of an uprising in the country. Award-winning reporter, Anna Therese Day, has said she and her camera crew haven’t been released. She also disputed claims by Bahraini officials that a reporter was arrested while participating in attacks on police along with rioters. It is reported Day and her crew were in the country covering the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, which was part of Arab Spring protests.

From Human Rights First in the USA:

American Journalists Arrested in Bahrain Indicates Continuing Crackdown on Dissent

February 15, 2016

Washington, D.C. – In response to news reports that four American journalists have been arrested in Bahrain, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement:

“Reports that four American journalists are to be prosecuted in Bahrain are another alarming reminder of how dangerous Bahrain is for reporters. The regime routinely denies admission to those it fears will expose its human rights abuses, and arrests those who do manage to get in.

“The American embassy should remind the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect press freedom and freedom of expression, and not target reporters. While it’s increasingly rare for the U.S. government to stand up to its repressive military ally, Washington’s credibility is on the line. It should speak out clearly about what consequences there will be for its relationship with Bahrain if the authorities prosecute American reporters for doing their jobs.”

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal government crackdown on mass protests calling for democratic reform in Bahrain. Human Rights First released a new blueprint, “How to Reverse Five Years of Failure on Bahrain,” that examines conditions in Bahrain, the strengths and shortcomings of the U.S. response, and potential opportunities for the U.S. government to support civil society and strengthen respect for human rights. The blueprint outlines key missteps in U.S. policy in Bahrain since the 2011 uprising, which include failing to back up rhetoric in support of human rights and civil society with action, and decisions to downplay these priorities in favor of short-term military objectives. Human Rights First’s interviews with Bahraini activists and civil society leaders revealed an enduring human rights crisis in the country, marked by denial of basic rights including freedom of association, assembly, and expression, arbitrary arrests and torture of human rights activists and opposition leaders, and a failure to hold senior officials accountable  for the torture and killings that occurred during the 2011 crackdown.

American Journalists Arrested: US Embassy Should Remind Bahrain of Press Freedom: here.

UPDATE: Bahrain charges and releases American journalists held during protests. Freelance reporter Anna Day and three cameramen detained while covering anniversary of uprising: here.

Bahrain frees U.S. journalists but keeps its own media behind bars: here.

Bahrain: Release Ebrahim Sharif. Secular Opposition Leader Jailed Again on Speech Charge: here.

Britain lobbied UN to whitewash Bahrain police abuses. Documents indicate UK and Saudi Arabia worked to water down human rights statement: here.

Dyke: I don’t think anyone from Bahrain should be Fifa president: here.

Bahrain, football, torture and Britain

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 daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dyke Slams Bahrain’s Blood-soaked Prince

Tuesday 16th February 2016

Khalifa’s involvement in crackdown on protests makes FA chief uneasy

by Our Sports Desk

FOOTBALL Association chief Greg Dyke called on Fifa presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa yesterday to confess to his role in Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in the Gulf kingdom.

“No-one denies that there were violations of human rights involving sportsmen and footballers that went on four years ago — no-one denies that. The denial is over whether or not he was involved,” Dyke said.

“The question is, does it matter whether or not he was involved, or is it the fact, can you have someone from Bahrain running world football, in charge of world football, given what happened there four years ago? I personally have my doubts.”

Khalifa, currently head of the Asian Football Confederation, is a member of the despotism’s ruling family and has been accused of dobbing in athletes who took part in the demonstrations which began five years ago this month.

At the time Khalifa was the president of the Bahraini FA.

The popular protests were brutally suppressed by troops from Bahrain and also Saudi Arabia, both armed with British-made vehicles and equipment. Dozens were killed and many more arrested and tortured.

Britain has a long history with the Gulf state, with it being a British client state from the early 1800s. Since it declared independence in 1971 Britain has continued to prop up its blood-soaked rulers, including by flogging them vast quantities of arms.

Tory MP Damian Collins backed up Dyke’s comments, accusing Khalifa of “not being straight with what he knew” about jailing and abuse of activists.

“He clearly did nothing to stand up for and protect the sportspeople and he doesn’t want to discuss it.”

Collins was one of the organisers of a “New Fifa Now” debate in Brussels last month, which Khalifa ducked out of — insisting he has no “skeletons in the closet.”

The debate descended into farce when only one candidate, Jerome Champagne, showed up.

While Collins has openly criticised Khalifa for his alleged human rights abuse, Tory PM David Cameron has been pushing deals with Bahrain.

As well as arms sales, Britain signed a major defence pact in 2012, continues to train Bahraini troops, invited another prince involved in putting down the demonstrations to the London Olympics, and Bahrain’s King Hamad attended Queen Elizabeth Windsor’s diamond jubilee dinner.

Britain is set to open a naval base in Bahrain later this year.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said that matters were getting worse in the country.

“Five years since the uprising, torture, arbitrary detention and a widespread crackdown against peaceful activists and government critics have continued,” said Amnesty’s James Lynch.

“Today in Bahrain, anyone who dares to criticise the authorities — whether a human rights defender or political activist — risks punishment.

“Institutions set up to protect human rights have not only failed to independently investigate or hold perpetrators to account, but now increasingly appear to be used to whitewash continuing abuses.”

Fifa presidency: Greg Dyke casts doubt on Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa replacing Sepp Blatter: here.

FA chairman Greg Dyke has doubts about Sheikh Salman’s Fifa candidacy: here.

Sheik Salman’s man in dirty-tricks gaffe after he wrongly accuses Prince Ali of hiring former Israeli footballer: here.

BANNED Uefa ex-president Michel Platini painted himself as a martyr yesterday, insisting he was appealing against his eight-year sanction in order to fight “against injustice.” Platini got the boot from football in December for a “disloyal payment” of £1.3 million to him from disgraced Fifa ex-president Sepp Blatter in 2011: here.