Bahrain Freedom Movement Statements

F1 criticised for ignoring Bahrain HR, Ronaldo urged to raise Saudi HR

International calls have been made to the Formula 1 (F1) car racing management not to ignore the human rights in Bahrain, few days before the race in Manama this weekend.. The Bahraini Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has written to its president urging him to take the cases of human rights victims. Twelve native Bahraini families have written to F1 urging them not to ignore the plight of their detained ones. Lewis Hamilton and other Formula One drivers can help steer the sport away from a ‘moral vacuum’ by speaking out at season-opening races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, human rights campaigners said. At a specially convened event in UK parliament yesterday voices were raised about the insensitivity of the sporting body towards human rights.  Paul Scriven, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, told the news conference organised by BIRD that the sport was at a fork in the road. “There are two roads that F1 can now take. One is a road which is a moral vacuum where the leaders and the administrators seem to be going,” he said. “There is another road that some drivers seem to be taking… who understand they can use their platform and their sport not just for sport’s sake but for good and for change and that they cannot ignore the human rights abuses in the country that they are driving in.”أ

In a serious snub to the khalifi rulers the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women yesterday issued its findings on Bahrain. “The Committee was concerned at the shrinking civic space for women human rights defenders and reports of intimidation, harassment, threats, physical abuse, sexual violence”. It urged Bahrain to further strengthen and enforce measures to protect women human rights defenders, including journalists and political opposition members, from acts of reprisals.

A khalifi court handed down a five-year prison sentence to Qasim Hassan Abdulkarim who has been in detention since October of last year. Abdulkarim was arbitrarily detained in the town of Shahrakan. The charges against him are unknown. Meanwhile, the detentions in Bahrain have continued. On 23rd February Sayed Mahdi Maitham  and Mujtaba Munir were snatched from their homes at the town of Saar. Another young man was also detained. Al Hadi Ahmad Moftah, from Duraz town, was detained after touching down at the airport.

Appeals from inside jails to change the dire situation have also continued. Saeed Abdulla Al Aal has complained about the lack of positive responses from the management of the notorious Jau prisons and how they have given deaf ears to calls for humane treatment of the political prisoners. Another political detainee, Habib Mahdi Ahmad Yousuf presented similar feelings about the prison officials. Ali Salman said that a group of detainees had attempted suicide due to ill-treatment at Jau prison. Instead of heeding the calls for addressing the problems the management issued more threats. Political prisoner Muhammad Hassan Al-Raml has been transferred to the prison clinic after nearly a week on hunger strike. This is the second time this year that Al-Raml has staged a hunger strike to protest medical negligence. Yousuf Hassan Al Walad said that unless their demands to improve the situation in the jail are met the prisoners will stage a hunger strike.

Saudi prosecutors in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh, have called for the execution of ten judges accusing them of “the ultimate treason” which carries the death penalty. Those arrested include six judges from the SCC: Abdullah bin Khaled al-Luhaidan, Abdulaziz bin Medawi al-Jaber, Jundub al-Muferrih, Abdulaziz bin Fahad al-Dawood, Talal al-Humaidan, Fahad al-Sughayyer and four judges from the High Court: Khalid bin Awaidh al-Qahtani, Nasser bin Saud al-Harbi, Muhammed al-Omari, and Muhammed bin Musfir al-Ghamdi. At least two of them; Abdullah bin Khaled al-Luhaidan and Abdulaziz bin Medawi al-Jaber were accused of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. Al-Luhaidan convicted prominent women’s rights defender Loujain Alhathloul on baseless terrorism charges in December 2020, while al-Jaber sentenced a minor and many others to death, including many of those executed in the mass execution of 81 people in March 2022. They were arrested the judges on April 11, 2022.

On 19th February Amnesty International tweeted the following: Salma, Mahdia and Saad are 3 out of 15 people who were sentenced in Saudi Arabia in 2022 to prison terms of between 10 and 45 years simply for expressing their opinions online. Freedom of expression is not a crime. They must be released immediately.” Meanwhile, Waleed Abulkhair, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent human rights activists and prisoners of conscience, has begun a hunger strike after he was beaten by other inmates: He started his protest on Tuesday following the attack.

Over 8,500 people in the Reprieve community have signed an open letter to Cristiano Ronaldo, asking him to speak up against the death penalty in Saudi Arabia following his new $200 million per year contract with Saudi football club Al Nasr.  Ronaldo has been silent despite the risk of execution of people like Abdullah al-Howaiti, Hussein Abo al-Kheir and Dr Hassan al-Maliki. Human rights bodies say that Ronaldo can help save lives with his platform and power.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

1st March 2023

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