Bahraini regime, kidnappers like ISIS


This video about Bahrain 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.

By Joseph Sabroski in the USA:

With kidnapping, Bahrain follows ISIL playbook

Key US ally continues to violate human rights with impunity

February 18, 2015 2:15PM ET

Citing “brotherly ties of kinship,” the Khalifa dictatorship of Bahrain has pledged the aid of the Bahraini Defense Forces to Jordan in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The regime’s kidnapping on Monday of Bahraini human rights defender Hussain Jawad, however, suggests the ruling family might also have a lot in common with the jihadist threat it claims to be fighting.

The chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), Jawad was at risk of being tortured, according to a report from Amnesty International. After being snatched from his home by masked police officers, he was taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate — an affiliate of the Ministry of Interior notorious for the torture of detainees who are in the process of being charged with a crime.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Jawad was going to be released, according to his lawyer Reem Khalaf. But at the time of publication, Jawad has yet to be returned home to his family.

This wouldn’t be the first time the island kingdom abducted and tortured a political dissident. Loved by the West for, among other things, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet and its hostility toward Iran, Bahrain has been violently repressing peaceful protests and political opposition while implementing only piecemeal reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, according to a report in Al-Monitor. Feb. 14 marked the fourth anniversary of Bahrain’s failed uprising and was predictably marked by violent clashes between security forces and protesters who have become disillusioned by the limits of peaceful political expression.

Jawad’s wife, Asma Darwish, is the head of information and media relations for the EBOHR and immediately took to Twitter on Monday to report the kidnapping of her husband, and numerous human rights activists followed suit. The Irish human rights organization Front Line Defenders said “masked men in civilian clothes” kidnapped Jawad and held him incommunicado for 10 hours before he was finally allowed to speak by phone to his wife.

According to Darwish’s tweets about her conversation with her husband, he may have been tortured already.

The terror that incidents like these inspire for loved ones is reminiscent of the pain felt by the family members of ISIL’s victims.

“To have masked men raid your house at dawn is scary, specifically when holding your 2-year-old son between your arms,” Darwish told me over Skype. “I am worried a lot. When Hussain called, that one only call … I heard noises and strange sounds. He hardly spoke. He left me there, broken beyond repair — yet feeling more empowered to fight back to bring my husband home.”

When armed masked men of ISIL kidnap and torture their prisoners, the U.S. and U.K. lead the charge in denouncing these actions in the strongest terms. But when their favorite Arab dictatorships, with which they have all kinds of cozy arrangements and mutual geopolitical interests, employ similar violent and brutal tactics to suppress political freedoms, the West looks the other way while entrenching its vested military and political objectives.

In a recent column at Middle East Eye, author Hussain Abdulla writes that “Western countries appear to be employing the ‘stability over democracy’ approach in the Gulf,” as combating ISIL is seen as a bigger priority.

The U.S. valued parking its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain long before the rise of ISIL. But as Abdulla points out, by shoring up support for Bahrain and other allied Arab dictatorships in the name of combating ISIL, the U.S. is all but guaranteeing the rise of future violent extremist groups in Bahrain by allowing the regime to continue committing its brazen human rights abuses.

After serving a two-year sentence for tweets that he wrote during the uprising, Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison shortly after his release for tweeting that “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

As if eager to vindicate his claims, the regime determined that the best course of action would be to follow ISIL’s lead: lock him up in a cage for the high crime of blaspheming the state.

Jawad was previously detained multiple times by the authorities and is already facing charges of insulting the king, according to a report in Middle East Eye. It remains to be seen if new charges will be brought in connection with his latest detention. His case, however upsetting, is unfortunately just one in a long line of victims who had the temerity to challenge and question the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Bahrain. Meanwhile, Bahrainis can rest assured that wherever there are masked gunmen throwing innocents into the back of a vehicle, the U.S. will not stand idly by, so long as it’s the right kind of villain behind the mask.

Joseph Sabroski is a freelance journalist who writes about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Poland will pay CIA torture victims


This video says about itself:

Poland admits to hosting CIA black site prisons on its soil after U.S. Senate torture report

10 December 2014

Poland has finally admitted it DID host an American black site prison after years of denying it just after a scathing report on CIA torture shed light on just how brutal the polices were. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country of hosting such a site. A former Polish president says NATO was in a state of war at the time, and there was no question over allowing allies to use its territory.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Two win payout for CIA prison ordeal

Thursday 19th February 2015

POLAND’S Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said yesterday that his government would pay €230,000 (£170,000) in compensation to two men who were held in a secret CIA prison in the country.

The payout was ordered by the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected a Polish appeal against its original ruling.

The court ruled last July that Poland violated the rights of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah by allowing the CIA to imprison them and by failing to stop “the torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” they suffered.

It was the first judgement by any court on the “extraordinary renditions” programme under which the US abducted individuals from across the world and held them without trial in secret locations.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still held in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and Mr Schetyna queried whether the compensation could be paid to them directly.

On Tuesday, the Guardian revealed the existence of a secret interrogation facility operated by the Chicago Police Department, in what the newspaper called “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site”: here.

Irish government whitewashing Bahrain human rights violations?


This video from the USA is called CNN – Bahrain security forces torture doctors, medics and patients.

From the Irish Medical Times:

Freedoms at the heart of medical education

February 18, 2015

Prof Eoin O’Brien is critical of the recent Medical Council report on RCSI-Bahrain following a recent accreditation visit, suggesting that it does Ireland an international disservice.

Education without freedom of speech is an oxymoron that I believe has just been upheld by the Irish Medical Council (IMC) and the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, on behalf of the Irish people.

With more than two million people supporting freedom of speech in Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, and supportive demonstrations throughout this country, it is timely to ask how authorities acting on behalf of the Irish public can be, in my view, so cavalier in granting what amounts to official approval of an oppressive regime.

And let’s be in no doubt but that Bahrain is a most oppressive regime, ranking 163rd out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index (Ireland ranks 16th), as a consequence of which it is off-limits to most human rights groups. In this small island about one million people are governed by a minority Sunni monarchy, which, with the economic backing of Saudi Arabia, oppresses the Shia majority who are denied the most basic of human rights.

Let us remind ourselves that what started as a peaceful protest for basic human rights in the Arab Spring of 2011 ended with more than 35 people killed and some 70 medical professionals, including 47 doctors, being arrested, with more than 150 medical workers suspended or dismissed from their jobs, and that Irish-trained surgeons and doctors Ali Al-Ekri, Bassim Dhaif, Ghassan Dhaif and his wife Zahraa Al-Sammak were among the tortured. Dr Al-Ekri remains incarcerated in a prison.

Freedom of speech

The question is this: can university education be provided in an environment that forbids freedom of speech and imprisons those who chose to exercise this fundamental democratic right? The President of the Irish Medical Council, Prof Freddie Wood, who until recently was a member of the Council of RCSI and Chairman of its Finance Committee, is, I would argue, of the opinion that freedom of expression is a prerequisite of medical education.

In a recent lecture, Prof Wood used a quote from Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we start to remain silent about the things that matter.” The President went on to illustrate the righteous adherence of the IMC to such a principle: “All the international research shows that doctors who have issues at medical school are likely to continue with bad practices throughout their professional lives. If we can work to standardise the training experience for all doctors so that it is consistently high, we can make sure a reference for good practice is there throughout a doctor’s career.” Likewise, the National University of Ireland (NUI) (which awards degrees in Bahrain) is emphatic in emphasising the importance of freedom of speech in university education.

Dr Maurice Manning, the Chancellor of NUI, chaired a committee in 2013 that drafted a guiding document entitled Human Rights Principles and Code of Conduct for the National University of Ireland and its Member Institutions.

It should be noted that the RCSI, as a member institute, should be subject to the principles enumerated in this document, among which are: “The National University of Ireland and its member institutions have a special responsibility to ensure that… the human rights of their students, staff and associates are fully respected, regardless of the country where they are located. This includes but is not limited to freedoms that are necessary for the good functioning of a university, such as freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination.”

It goes on to emphasise that the NUI and its member institutions must ensure that none of their activities, including partnerships they undertake with institutions in different countries, are seen as providing support for the violation of human rights.

How, one has to ask, can these Irish institutions on the one hand emphasis such laudable principles about the educational environment of medical students, and, on the other, countenance granting accreditation to RCSI-Bahrain and its associated hospitals, where torture and imprisonment of medical staff, not to say anything about suppression of freedom of speech, has been openly documented and repeatedly emphasised by medical and legal authorities?

Educators in Bahrain have also had difficulty reconciling the principles of education with the repression of basic human rights. The former President of RCSI-Bahrain, Prof Tom Collins, resigned his position because by remaining in office effectively amounted to complicity with suppressive policies of the Bahraini authorities — a resultant compromising of the very essence of higher education.

The ‘rape’ of Bahrain

Dr Mike Diboll, a former Academic Head of Continuing Professional Development at Bahrain Teachers College, University of Bahrain, and a faculty member of the University of Bahrain, who “witnessed the toxic effects of institutionalised sectarianism, the suppression of academic freedom and the violation of civil and human rights at the University of Bahrain”, has stated that: “The rape of Bahrain Polytechnic provides yet more evidence — as if more were needed — as to why no respectable international higher education institution, professional body, or accreditation agency should have anything whatsoever to do with Bahrain until fundamental social and political change has happened there.”

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the recent announcement by the Medical Council to grant accreditation to RCSI-Bahrain has appalled many doctors, who see grave implications that extend far beyond the shores of the islands of Bahrain and Ireland.

IMC Report

The IMC Report on Accreditation Inspection of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain Medical School, which took place on October 13 and 14, 2014, makes, in my view, disturbing reading, not so much for the recommendations it makes, but for the facts it chooses to omit in reaching its conclusions. I am not going to concern myself with the make-up of the visiting team, but rather concentrate on their failure to make any meaningful reference to human rights and the freedom of expression — issues that cannot be ignored in the context of approving a third-level institution that purports to educate doctors to practise in multicultural environments.

The only mention of human rights in the 40-page document (apart from four documents listed as ‘Background Reading’) is reference to a review document from RCSI-Bahrain that apparently “commits RCSI-B to expressing its declared ethos, including commitment to dignity and freedom for all, though the content and process of its teaching”.

The report goes on: “A stand-alone module on human rights has been introduced, with assessment explicitly linked to student progress.”

It could be argued that the report reflects an unsuitable position taken towards the institute under inspection, rather than expressing its findings in a dispassionate and factual manner. For example, from the outset the “noble purpose” of RCSI is acknowledged, whereby it enhances “human health through endeavour, innovation and collaboration in education, research and service”.

The report repeatedly “commends” RCSI-Bahrain, examples being for the sports facilities available on campus and on the range of clubs and societies available to students, the “Careers Office, which provides guidance, support and advice” and the “calibre of the administrative staff met on the accreditation inspection”.

These are important considerations in any university where fundamental existential conditions, such as academic freedom, meritocratic decision-making, freedom of association and freedom of expression are assumed, which is not necessarily the case in Bahrain.

The report deems the clinical facilities to be acceptable, not by a rigorous assessment of the hospitals, interviewing past pupils, patients and independent reports, but instead by relying on the ability of current students to speak out and exercise their freedom of speech, which has hitherto been so assiduously denied them.

There is then the time given to the IMC visit — two working days to visit and interview personnel at the RCSI-Bahrain Medical School, the King Hamad University Hospital, and the Bahrain Defence Forces Hospital, and to assess the clinical facilities.

The report suggests an important contradiction, which needs to be reconciled, namely that while it was disappointing that the Team had been unable “to meet with a greater number of students, they found that students were aware of the purpose of the meeting and had reasonable opportunity to opt-in”. Why did so few students attend, then, if they were aware of the meeting?

The final conclusion of this flawed report is that: “The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Bahrain’s six-year Medical Programme should be approved for a period of five years under the terms of Section 88(2)(a)(i)(I) of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.”

This recommendation is based on the fact that RCSI-Bahrain provided “an appropriate, comprehensive and pedagogically-sound education programme, which is carefully designed to meet defined educational outcomes and is based on the well established programme at the parent institution in Dublin”.

Does this imply that the visiting team from Ireland believed that the same democratic principles that pertain in Dublin also operate in the educational environment in Bahrain?

This is not too surprising, of course, seeing that it would appear they did not interview or visit any of the people involved in upholding human rights in that country.

Rather, the IMC team has chosen to concentrate on issues of technical competence rather than the relevance of ethical principles in decision making — a dangerous course as the Irish people well know, having had to pay for this dichotomy in the failure of banking regulation in this country.

Human rights

So what is the state of human rights in Bahrain today? Two examples will suffice. First, the IMC visit took place just after the women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer had been arrested and detained for tweeting criticism of the IMC-approved King Hamad University Hospital; she is now considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Second, my friend Nabeel Rajab, who is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East division’s advisory committee, is presently facing six months in prison — a sentence he is appealing — for issuing a tweet that offended the Bahraini authorities, which has warned that anyone who “offends by any method of expression the National Assembly or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies” will be sentenced to jail.

Allow me to speculate. Were the IMC delegation, who were selected for proven abilities and experience, aware of all this background, did they choose to ignore it, were they denied enquiry into the educational environment, did they in fact probe the issue, or did they see it as outside their remit — or none of the above? Only the IMC can say which, if any, of these explanations is correct.

Whatever the answer, as things stand at present, the IMC and the Minister of Education and Skills have done nothing to address the abuse of human rights in Bahrain, and have allowed it to continue by sanctioning an Irish educational institution in that island.

Perhaps, more importantly, they may be jeopardising the reputation of Irish higher education both at home and abroad in terms of its pursuit for and profession of truth.

Ireland has a proud tradition internationally in medicine by virtue of medical missionary work, its contributions to scientific medicine and the reputation for clinical excellence acquired over many years by dedicated doctors and nurses working at home and abroad.

The Minister has a responsibility not to see this reputation squandered. She has a further responsibility, which is that she must be assured that the IMC is acting in accord with the requirements of the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME), which the IMC is mandated to support. These standards stress that the locations for clinical tuition should be safe, and that academic freedom must be upheld so that there is “appropriate freedom of expression [and] freedom of inquiry” for both staff and students.

If the Minister upholds the decision of the IMC, which I believe conflicts with human rights standards in Ireland, then this issue may well be open to challenge.

While we in the US ate chocolates and celebrated love, Bahrain commemorated another occasion. This year, Feb. 14 marks the fourth anniversary of the most recent revolution. Unfortunately, the repression continues, and this Valentine’s Day is marked by more forceful responses to continuing protests, complete with tear gas, sound bombs and police violence against demonstrators: here.

Bahrain initiates criminal investigation into online content of opposition party: here.

CIA torturer now ‘interpreter’ at Guantanamo trial


This video by Channel 4 in Britain is called Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook.

By Ed Hightower in the USA:

Interpreter for 9/11 defendants at Guantanamo Bay was a CIA agent

13 February 2015

On Monday, the military trials of five alleged 9/11 conspirators at Guantanamo Bay came to a temporary pause when it came to light that a court-appointed defense interpreter and linguist had previously worked at CIA “black sites” where the defendants had been detained and tortured.

According to the Associated Press, defendant Ramzi Binalshibh told the presiding judge that the interpreter seated next to him was someone that he and other defendants recognized from their earlier incarceration at secret CIA prisons before their transfer to the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann of Chicago represents Walid bin Attash, another 9/11 defendant who was present at the hearing Monday. She told the AP that Attash was “visibly shaken” to see an individual who “participated in his illegal torture” in the courtroom today.

“If this is part of the pattern of infiltration by government agencies into the defense teams, then the right people to be addressing this issue are not in the courtroom,” Bormann added.

Monday’s court proceedings were the first to take place since the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture of detainees at CIA and military facilities, including rectal feeding and other barbaric torture practices.

Four out of the five defendants at Monday’s hearing said that they were certain that the interpreter in question was present at the CIA detention site where they were held. Their lawyers suggested to the judge that the former CIA asset’s placement on the defense team was no accident, and they requested time to further investigate this.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon responded to the previous day’s revelations with an admission that the interpreter in question had in fact worked for the CIA.

“The member of the defense team referenced in previous hearings has in the past made readily available to prospective supervisors his prior work experience with the United States government, including with the CIA,” Pentagon spokesman Myles Caggins stated.

“The prosecution does not have any role in providing linguists to defense teams in military commission,” he added.

Defense attorney Bormann contradicted this claim in a statement to the AP, saying that the interpreters are part of a pool of linguists provided to the defense teams, and their resumes and backgrounds cannot be studied in detail.

“Now the question is what other infiltration has occurred and to what extent has it destroyed our ability to represent these men,” she said.

Further undermining Caggins’ claim was the statement by Jim Harrington, attorney for defendant Binalshibh, that the interpreter lied on his resume. Harrington told the Miami Herald on Tuesday evening that his team asked the interpreter whether he had “participated in any interrogation, questioning or done any work with respect to detainees. Any place. His resume denies it. It says he worked someplace else—Reston, Virginia, from 2002 to 2006.”

“We vetted him. He denied it,” Harrington said.

The fact that a CIA operative has found his way onto the defense team representing his former victims speaks volumes about the military commission process. Taken in context, the presence of a CIA spy on the defense team fits the show trial character of the proceedings as a whole, which have been discredited time and again by interference with the defendants’ right to counsel.

From the outset, the military tribunals against the 9/11 defendants were designed with two goals: first, to railroad the defendants into conviction by any means, including confessions extracted by torture; and second, to protect the gory details of US imperialist involvement with the Islamic fundamentalist terror groups that it arms and funds one day, and denounces, persecutes and destroys the next, depending on the foreign and domestic policy needs of the American ruling class at any given time.

Thus, the alleged conspirators in the terror attacks of 9/11—an event which has the hallmarks of US government involvement—were in many cases kidnapped from around the globe, held incommunicado and tortured, brought to Cuba for further torture and indefinite detention, and now face the death penalty in proceedings that make the secret court of Star Chamber seem equitable by comparison.

The commission is housed in a $12 million “Expeditionary Legal Complex,” where reporters sit behind soundproof glass, listening to the proceedings on a 40-second delay. A large red light bulb at the judge’s bench, seen in this video, illuminates when he or a security officer presses a button to mute the audio when the testimony may concern evidence of CIA torture or other “sensitive information.”

In January 2013, this muting device was activated without the judge’s say so, indicating that someone outside of the proceeding, and essentially above the law, can intervene and silence the audio feed at will. The Guardian later reported that this “outside” silencer was the CIA.

In February 2013, lawyers for the defendants complained of advanced surveillance devices in attorney-client meeting rooms hidden inside of phony smoke detectors. In April of that year, defense attorneys learned that some 500,000 internal emails had been seized by the Department of Defense.

In April 2014 Judge Pohl again put the proceedings on pause following revelations that the FBI had been secretly recruiting a member of the defense team’s security detail to be an informant. In fact, the CIA agent-turned-interpreter who was exposed at Monday’s hearing was serving as a replacement for an earlier interpreter who was also working with the FBI.

After allowing for the filing of motions on Tuesday, Judge Pohl denied defense motions to halt the case until further inquiry regarding the interpreter on Wednesday, saying that this was “premature.”

The uncovering of a CIA spy on the defense team underscores the sham character of the military commissions for the accused 9/11 conspirators. The defendants are systematically denied their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney, which is meaningless when attorney-client meetings are the subjects of surveillance. No attorney, no matter how skilled, can successfully represent a client who is being intimidated from having honest, open communication with his counsel.

These most recent developments in the proceedings, coming after the release of the Senate Intelligence Report on CIA torture, also highlight the terminal crisis of American democracy as a whole. Those who are accused of terrorism are tortured, indefinitely detained, intimidated and denied the right to counsel, while US government officials who invade countries, fund terrorism, institutionalize torture, and shred constitutional rights do not face so much as an indictment.

A FORMER Guantanamo detainee who was resettled in Uruguay appeared in neighbouring Argentina on Thursday wearing a prison-style orange jumpsuit and asked the country to grant asylum to detainees still held at the US concentration camp: here.

Guantánamo torturer previously led brutal Chicago police regime of shackling and confession: here.

A report in the Guardian has revealed that a leading interrogator at Guantanamo Bay had used torture to extract false confessions as a police detective in Chicago: here.

CIA whistleblower calls for prosecution of officials responsible for torture: here.

Former Gitmo Prisoner David Hicks Seeks Damages for Torture as Military Court Overturns Conviction: here.

After protracted legal action by former Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks, a US Military Commission Review has unanimously upheld the 39-year-old Australian citizen’s appeal against his bogus “providing material support for terrorism” conviction. The decision is yet another demonstration that the US-led “war on terror” and its associated crimes are built on lies: here.

Free Bahraini human rights activist


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 the site of the government of Norway:

Norway calls for release of human rights defender in Bahrain

News story | Published: 10.02.2015

‘The human rights situation in Bahrain has deteriorated steadily since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. The Norwegian authorities call for the release of the Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab,’ said State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen.

Mr Rajab, who met the political leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September 2014, has been imprisoned several times following accusations of having publicly insulted the Bahraini authorities on social media and having participated in and encouraged unauthorised demonstrations. Following a visit to Europe to draw attention to the human rights situation in Bahrain, Mr Rajab returned to Bahrain on 1 October 2014. He was summoned for interrogation just a day after his return, accused of having insulted a public institution on social media. On 20 January, Mr Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison for his ‘crime’. The sentence has been appealed, and the appeal is due to be heard by the court on 11 February.

‘The sentence against Nabeel Rajab is another example of how difficult the situation is for human rights defenders in Bahrain. A large number of human rights activists have been imprisoned with extremely harsh sentences. Norway calls for Nabeel Rajab to be released as quickly as possible,’ said Mr Pedersen.

A Bahraini human rights activist stripped of his citizenship and rendered stateless, has told the House of Lords in Westminster that Bahrain is using the revocation of nationalities as a weapon against the opposition: here.