Bahraini regime torturers’ British training


This November 2015 video says about itself:

Human Rights Watch Accuses Bahrain Of Torturing Detainees

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

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Human rights campaigners warn academics not to train Bahraini police

‘Instead of training torturers, perhaps the Huddersfield University academics should focus on Bahrain’s unjust criminal justice system,’ Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says

ACADEMICS from Britain are teaching at a police academy in the Middle East despite concerns that its officers are involved in human rights abuses.

Two Huddersfield University lecturers are visiting Bahrain’s Royal Police Academy to discuss interview techniques.

Psychologists Dr John Synnott and Dr Maria Ioannou are delivering a masters programme in security science on behalf of the university.

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy advocacy director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei told the Morning Star: “It’s really shocking to see academics from Huddersfield University equipping the Bahraini police force – which boasts a record of murdering individuals through torture without accountability – with techniques that will only empower state repression.

“Last week, 138 individuals, including children, were sentenced and revoked of their citizenship in a single trial.

“Is this the standard that Huddersfield University expects from their partner?

“Instead of training torturers on how to break victims more efficiently, perhaps academics should focus their efforts on assessing the unjust operations of the Bahraini criminal justice system.”

The Huddersfield scheme was inaugurated by the university’s chancellor Prince Andrew last April.

A spokesperson for Huddersfield University confirmed that it was working with Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, adding: “The masters programme covers subjects including investigative psychology, forensic psychology, computer science (cyber security), forensic science and criminology and includes a dissertation.

“The course is delivered at the academy by Huddersfield staff who usually spend approximately two weeks in the country teaching the students.

“The first cohort of 26 police officers graduated in March this year.”

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Free Saudi women’s rights activists


Jailed Saudi activists for the right of women to drive cars

From the Gulf Institute for Human Rights:

HRW: UN: A Call to Free Saudi Women Activists

March 07,2019

A joint statement by 36 countries on March 7, 2019 calling on Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record was a landmark step toward justice and accountability, Human Rights Watch said today.

It was the first time ever that governments, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, have criticized their fellow member, the Saudi government.

At least some of these governments are rather Johnny-come-latelies and may stand accused of hypocrisy. Eg, the governments of the United Kingdom and of Belgium helped the Saudi regime to get into the the United Nations Human Rights Council and into the United Nations Women’s Rights Commission. Both governments still help selling British weapons and Belgian weapons to the Saudi absolute monarchy and their partners in war crimes, the UAE absolute monarchy, to kill Yemeni civilians. Will they stop doing that now? And will the French Macron government, another co-signatory, now at last stop selling French weapons to the dictatorial kingdom?

The statement, delivered by Iceland at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, condemns the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, urges an end to Saudi Arabia’s use of counterterrorism regulations to target dissidents and human rights activists, and calls for the release of Saudi women’s rights activists detained beginning in May 2018.

Under the government that is effectively headed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi authorities have intensified a coordinated crackdown on dissidents, human rights activists, and independent clerics. Countries at the Human Rights Council should support the joint statement, which is a rare and significant opportunity to press Saudi Arabia over its human rights abuses. The statement remains open for further endorsement until at least the end of the session on March 22.

“The joint statement to Saudi Arabia at the UN Human Rights Council sends a strong message to Saudi authorities that it needs to end its abusive treatment of activists and dissidents,” said John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “Council member states should stand in solidarity with detained Saudi activists, press for their immediate release and maintain scrutiny of Saudi Arabia until there is substantial improvement in its rights record and meaningful reform.”

The joint statement reflected concerns also raised by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who in her report to the council on March 6 noted that the persecution of peaceful activists clearly contradicts the spirit of Saudi Arabia’s proclaimed new reforms, and urged the release of the women’s rights defenders.

On May 15, 2018, just weeks before the Saudi authorities lifted the ban on women driving on June 24, authorities began arrests of prominent women’s rights activists

the activists for the right of women to drive cars, who had made the lifting of the ban possible

and accused several of them of grave crimes like treason that appear to be directly related to their activism.

On March 1, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecution agency announced that the women’s rights activists would face charges and be put on trial. Human rights organizations began reporting in November that Saudi interrogators tortured at least four of the women, including by administering electric shocks, whipping the women on their thighs, and sexually harassing and assaulting them.

Saudi Arabia came under intense criticism in 2018 following the October 2 murder of the prominent Saudi journalist Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents. After weeks of denials and obfuscations, Saudi Arabia admitted to Khashoggi’s murder and announced the arrest of 18 people

18 scapegoats, to avoid arresting the crown prince

and the firing of senior officials. The Public Prosecution eventually charged 11 people in connection with the murder, including five against whom it is seeking the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia should cooperate fully with Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on her inquiry into the Khashoggi murder. Callamard will present the report on her inquiry to the council at its next session, in June.

“As a member of the Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia is required to maintain the ‘highest standards of human rights’, yet there is a massive gap between the country’s dismal rights record and the international standards it is sworn to uphold,” Fisher said. “Council members should be subject to more scrutiny, not less, and we urge the council to keep Saudi Arabia on its agenda until we see an end to the brutal targeting of defenders and dissidents, and genuine reform.”

The following States supported the joint statement:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Bahraini regime imprisons relatives in anti-democracy revenge


Theresa May meets the King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2016

This picture shows British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May meeting the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Khalifa, in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2016.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, February 25, 2019

‘I will not rest until my family is free’, London activist vows after Bahrain jails relatives

THREE relatives of a London-based Bahraini dissident have lost their final appeal against imprisonment in the Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain’s highest court upheld the family’s sentences today, despite United Nations experts warning that their convictions were “arbitrary.”

The family was targeted after their relative in London, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, protested outside Downing Street during a visit by Bahrain’s dictator King Hamad.

Mr Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, brother-in-law, Sayer Nizar Alwadaei, and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, were arrested in March 2017 and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

UN experts say their arrests were an “act of reprisal” for Mr Alwadaei’s human rights work in London, where he is advocacy director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird).

Mr Alwadaei was granted asylum in Britain in 2012 after he was tortured in Bahrain during the so-called Arab Spring.

He has since become one of the most effective and respected critics of Bahrain’s monarchy.

He has used freedom of information requests to frequently expose Bahrain’s deep ties to the British government.

However his success has made him a target for the regime’s security forces, who have gone after his relatives in Bahrain.

Mr Alwadaei condemned the latest court ruling, saying: “This is what you expect from a corrupt unjust system. I will not rest until my family is free.

“Their continued imprisonment is a shameful reminder of the UK’s weak position when dealing with human rights abuses committed by an ally country.”

Bird is particularly concerned about the welfare of Mr Alwadaei’s 55-year-old mother-in-law, who they say is being denied medical treatment for a lump on her breast, which they fear may be cancerous.

This is despite a British government aid scheme for Bahrain that involved training prison guards in healthcare procedures.

Amnesty International has issued a statement condemning the denial of medical access to Ms Mansoor, labelling her a “prisoner of conscience.”

Although she will be eligible for release next year, Mr Alwadaei’s cousin Nizar faces much longer behind bars.

He was arrested as a teenager and received two additional charges, meaning he will serve 11 years in prison.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has expressed serious concerns for the “ongoing trend of harassment and intimidation” of Mr Alwadaei and his family.

Britain’s Foreign Office has been approached for comment.

Bahraini torture regime, British Conservatives’ friends


This October 2014 video says about itself:

Bahrain human rights activist and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Maryam Al-Khawaja holds a press conference in London after being released from the Isa Town prison where she was being held.

Maryam tells us about the treatment at the prison and the conditions of migrant workers that she witnessed. Maryam Al-Khawaja also talks about the lack of medical support after a certain time and a Filipino woman who started having seizures.

Al-Khawaja was arrested at Manama airport last month and accused of assaulting a police officer; something which she denies. She has a court hearing on November 5th but the Danish citizen has not yet decided if she will attend. If convicted she could face 5 years in prison.

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tory minister cosies up to Bahrain’s unelected rulers as political prisoners rot in jail

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy criticised Britain for ‘contining to overlook and cover up the horrific rights abuses’ in the Gulf state

FOREIGN Office Minister Alistair Burt cosied up to Bahrain’s unelected leaders at yesterday’s meeting with the Gulf state’s crown prince and his retinue.

Mr Burt pushed ahead with the trip despite concerns raised by Bahraini exiles whose friends and relatives are held as political prisoners by the regime.

Their fears that Britain is too close to Bahrain were echoed by MPs, including Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who have written to Mr Burt.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a London-based dissident, warned that the minister’s visit came at a time when his frail mother-in-law was being denied vital medical treatment by Bahrain’s prison authorities.

Mr Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), said it was “crystal clear” that Britain “continued to overlook and cover up the horrific rights abuses that occur in the Gulf state.”

However, he hoped that “during his visit, Minister Burt has the opportunity to change this narrative and effect real change by advocating for the release of those imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights, including my family, who have endured nothing but a travesty of justice.”

Mr Alwadaei called on the Tory minister to visit his three jailed relatives while in Bahrain. The trio are expecting a verdict from Bahrain’s final appeals court on Monday.

Last month, United Nations experts found that all three are imprisoned arbitrarily and in reprisal for Bird’s advocacy work in Britain.

Another political prisoner, Ali al-Hajee, also wrote to Mr Burt before the visit and alleged that he had been tortured in Bahrain.

Mr Hajee said he was “one among the thousands of prisoners of conscience [and] victims of torture who are now languishing in Bahraini prisons.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade was highly critical of the trip. A spokesman said: “The Bahraini regime has inflicted a terrible crackdown on Bahraini people. Despite the torture and abuses, it has been armed and supported every step of the way by the UK government.”

Tortured Bahraini footballer freed in Thailand


This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Thai court orders release of Hakeem al Araibi

Thailand will free by the end of Monday a refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia who was arrested more than two months ago, a prosecutor in the case said.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Teammate Van’ t Schip’s ‘intense happiness’ about the freeing of Araibi

By Marijke van der Groef

“For three months you’re in stress, as teammates you do not really know how you can help, you worry, so now the relief is very big.”

The words are by Davey van ‘t Schip, teammate of Hakeem al-Araibi, the footballer who has been detained for months in Thailand. That country wanted to extradite him to his native Bahrain. But on Monday morning the news came suddenly that Araibi, who plays at the Australian Pascoe Vale club, would be released without charge.

Davey van 't Schip

“I was eating out with my friends, one of the boys was on Facebook and he saw it, I really got goose bumps, you are intensely happy that your teammate will get his life back”, says Van ‘t Schip.

Although the son of former [Dutch] Ajax player John van ‘t Schip is still not 100% sure yet: “It seems that when he was arrested there already was a ticket booked for him, so I really only will believe it when I will see him here at the airport tomorrow. ”

Refugee player

That airport will be the airport of Melbourne. The place where the now 25-year-old Araibi started a new life after he fled his homeland Bahrain. He had been indicted there in connection with protests against the government during the Arab Spring in 2011 and also has been tortured. The Bahraini international team player fled to Australia and received a residence permit there more than four years ago.

The footballer is indeed under contract with Pascoe Vale FC, but until he was arrested in Thailand, most teammates knew little about his background. Van ‘t Schip too.

“I knew he was an asylum seeker, but we did not really know much he had been tortured or what his background was, I can imagine that he was terrified that he would be sent back to a country that tortured him for political reasons.”

A week became three months

Araibi left for his honeymoon to Thailand in November. He was opposed to stay away for a week, which was almost three months. His name turned out to be on an international search warrant after which he was detained. The football community in Australia came into action and human rights organizations also spoke out.

Last Friday all captains from the highest division clubs in Australia asked for attention for the situation of Araibi. Before the start of the Australian Supercup, they showed football shirts with number 5, Hakeem al Araibi’s number.

Australian team captains' pro-Araibi demonstration

Van ‘t Schip is convinced that all attention has helped. “Without the club, and the people within the club who started an entire campaign and have exerted pressure on Thailand and Bahrain, it would have been different, without the club he would have been in Bahrain.”

For a long time, it looked like the military dictatorship in Thailand might send Araibi to Bahrain, to be tortured by the Bahraini royal dictatorship. While the Australian right-wing government did not really care about this footballer with an Australian residence permit as a recognized refugee. Like Donald Trump, they don’t mind if dictatorships are dictatorships and torturers, as long as they are allies.

Now, however, it turns out pro-human rights activism, even against dictatorships, can work.

Back to football

Araibi will be released on Monday evening according to a Thai spokesman and he will be able to return to Australia. The Australian football competition will start on Thursday. Van ‘t Schip will be happy to see his teammate again.

“I think Thursday is a bit too early for him, but it’s nice that he can build up his whole life again and football is a big part of that.” I assume he will start training again next week.”

Before that, Araibi will get a warm welcome on Australian soil. “The president of the club will send us his flight details so I think there will be some guys at the airport tomorrow”, Van’t Schip concludes, relieved.

Trump’s xenophobic militarism and torture


This 4 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

ICE has arrested and is planning to deport rapper 21 Savage. John Iadarola and Brooke Thomas break it down on The Damage Report.

Read more here.

On Sunday, February 3, 26-year-old Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, better known by his stage name 21 Savage, was detained in a “targeted operation” by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for overstaying a temporary visa. Abraham-Joseph, a Grammy-nominated entertainer, now faces imminent deportation to the United Kingdom, where he holds citizenship. The rapper’s detention comes only days after the release of “A Lot,” a single from the album I Am>I Was, in which he directly criticizes the Trump administration’s and ICE’s policy of separating families detained crossing the US-Mexico border, along with other injustices in the US. “Went through some things, but couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border/Flint still need water …” he raps: here.

This 1 February 2019 music video from the USA is called 21 Savage – a lot ft. J. Cole.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US “border security”: Troops, torture, barbaric prisons

5 February 2019

The Pentagon has confirmed that it is deploying an additional 3,750 troops to the US-Mexico border, continuing the build-up of repressive forces directed against defenseless immigrants and refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Some of the 3,750 soldiers will replace those being rotated out of the border area, but there will be a sizeable net increase of at least 2,000. The total number of troops, regular and National Guard, will be more than 6,000, the largest force deployed to the southern border since 1917, when General John J. Pershing led a punitive expedition against Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution.

The confirmation of the troop deployment Sunday came only two days before President Trump is to give the State of the Union speech at the US Capitol building, in which a major focus is expected to be border security. Trump forced a partial shutdown of the US government for 35 days in an effort to force Congress to approve $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.

The White House had to back down January 26, agreeing to a three-week reopening of the government while House and Senate negotiators discussed the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes both Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The House-Senate conference must reach agreement by February 8 to give time for congressional approval of a bipartisan deal by February 15. Otherwise there will be another shutdown, or Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency and use funds appropriated for some other purpose, such as military construction, to build the wall.

In discussions with reporters last week, Trump hinted that he might declare the national emergency in his State of the Union speech. “I don’t want to say it, but you’ll hear the State of the Union, and then you’ll see what happens right after the State of the Union”, he blustered. Whether or not that is the case, he is likely to center the speech on demands for the wall and warnings about crime and drugs supposedly associated with immigrants and refugees.

Congressional Democrats, while opposing a permanent structure or wall, largely on the grounds of its proven ineffectiveness, continue to offer vast sums for the CBP, ICE and other repressive measures against immigrants, under the rubric of “border security.”

This includes the mobilization of troops without any significant Democratic opposition, but also the abusive treatment of tens of thousands of immigrants held in ICE and CBP facilities in the border region, some operated directly by the two agencies, others by contractors, some of them billion-dollar companies that are making vast profits operating what amount to concentration camps.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, issued last week, found that ICE detention facilities don’t meet national standards for prisons, despite billions in outlays to build and operate the camps. According to the report, over a 33-month period ending in June 2018, “ICE paid contractors operating the 106 detention facilities subject to this review more than $3 billion … Despite documentation of thousands of deficiencies and instances of serious harm to detainees that occurred at these detention facilities, ICE rarely imposed financial penalties.”

The inspector general’s report examined half of the 211 detention facilities run by ICE directly or indirectly, housing an average of 35,000 detainees every day—the size of a small city. The report found that ICE regularly issue waivers to excuse deficiencies, some of them of grotesque proportions, such as allowing a detention facility to use tear gas against detainees, although the standard limits efforts to “control” detainees to pepper spray, which is much less toxic.

ICE did not dispute the inspector general’s findings, instead issuing a worthless declaration that it is “committed to continually enhancing civil detention operations to promote a safe and secure environment for both detainees and staff.”

More than a dozen immigrants have died in ICE custody since 2015, including two children from Guatemala who died in December, prompting wide publicity and popular revulsion.

Prisoners at ICE facilities have begun to fight back against their brutal treatment in one of the few ways still available to them, a hunger strike, which began at the detention facility in El Paso, Texas, but has since spread to facilities in Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco, according to an ICE spokesman.

On Sunday, ICE confirmed to the Associated Press that it was force-feeding nine of the hunger strikers in El Paso, up from six the week before, after obtaining a federal court order authorizing the brutal procedure, condemned as torture by international human rights groups, and banned by the American Medical Association.

Most of those being force-fed, and a majority of the hunger strikers, are Sikhs from the north Indian state of Punjab who have fled persecution by the right-wing Hindu supremacist government of India.

One detainee, identified by the AP only by his last name, Singh, which is very common among Sikhs, described “being dragged from his cell three times a day and strapped to a bed before being force-fed liquid through tubes pushed through his nose.”

“They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out,” Singh told the AP. “We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats.”

Human Rights Watch issued a statement February 1 calling force-feeding “a cruel, inhuman and degrading” practice and pointing out that “medical ethics and human rights norms generally prohibit the force-feeding of detainees who are competent and capable of rational judgment as to the consequences of refusing food.”

All these brutal measures would become much worse—and virtually impervious to legal challenge—if Trump declares a national emergency and orders the military to build his 30-foot wall along the US-Mexico border.

Under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, if Trump declares an emergency, Congress can take action to overturn the declaration under an expedited procedure under which the Senate would be required to vote within 30 days of action by the House of Representatives. However, Trump could veto the resolution and the emergency would remain in effect unless his veto was overridden.

Congressional leaders and civil liberties groups have indicated they plan to challenge an emergency declaration in the courts, but the White House expects that any appeal would be expedited quickly to the US Supreme Court, which has a 5–4 right-wing majority expected to uphold virtually any executive action.

Saudi women’s rights activist tortured


This 22 January 2016 video says about itself:

Arrested and jailed for driving in Saudi Arabia | The Economist

Our Middle East correspondent speaks to Loujain al-Hathloul and Fahad Albutairi, a married couple, about Loujain’s arrest and incarceration for driving as a woman in Saudi Arabia.

By Tamara Qiblawi, CNN:

Saudi women’s rights activist is being tortured in ‘palace of terror’, brother says

Updated 1139 GMT (1939 HKT) January 31, 2019

The brother of jailed Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul has detailed in a CNN opinion piece the abuse his sister has allegedly endured in prison.

In the article, Walid Alhathloul writes that during a recent visit by his parents to see Loujain she told them she was regularly whipped, beaten, electrocuted and sexually harassed in a basement she called the “palace of terror.”

Alhathloul was arrested in May 2018, along with 10 other women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Her family, Saudi activists and Human Rights Watch have alleged in recent months that she and other female detainees have been tortured and sexually harassed in prison.

They also allege that a former top adviser of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, was present during at least one of the interrogation sessions.

Qahtani allegedly threatened to rape, kill and throw one of the detainees into the sewage system, according to Human Rights Watch and people familiar with the events.

Qahtani was also implicated in the Istanbul consulate murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

I am not by any means an apologist for the Turkish Erdogan regime which killed many people both in Turkey and in Syria. However, the Turkish government is innocent in the Khashoggi murder case. CNN should have written: ‘in Turkey, by [the government of] Saudi Arabia’.

The former royal court communications chief was removed from his post after Riyadh pinned the blame for the murder on him and a handful of other high-ranking officials.

Attempts to reach Qahtani through the Saudi government were unsuccessful.

“Whenever Loujain spoke about the torture sessions to my parents, her hands shook uncontrollably. I fear the pain will stay with her forever,” Walid Alhathloul wrote in the CNN opinion piece.

“My own baby sister said she is being whipped, beaten, electrocuted and harassed on a frequent basis,” he wrote. “She said that sometimes there are masked men who wake her up in the middle of the night to shout unimaginable threats.”

Walid Alhathloul also said that one of the investigators tried to pressure his sister into marrying him, threatening her with rape.

Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on Alhathloul’s allegations.

Alhathloul then made a plea to Mariah Carey, who takes to the stage in King Abdullah Economic City alongside Sean Paul and DJ Tiesto on Thursday night: “Now that I told you the story of my sister, will Mariah Carey call for her release on stage? Will my voice be heard?”

Other activists also urged the American singer to cancel her concert over the allegations of human rights abuse. Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “Dear Mariah Carey, I hear you’re planning on performing in Saudi Arabia. Are you aware that women’s rights activists have been detained without charge since May 2018?”

CNN is attempting to contact Carey’s representatives and will update this story if a response is received.

In addition to Loujain Alhathloul, the detainees include prominent women’s rights activists Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Samar Badawi and Hatoon al-Fassi.