Wide condemnation has been levelled against Bahrain’s dictators for banning a trip by a delegation from an international body. A delegation from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was scheduled to visit the country last week to assess prison conditions and offer other technical assistance. After initially agreeing to the visit, the khalifis backtracked at the last minute. Bahraini opposition said Manama’s refusal to allow a UN delegation to visit the country is part of the policy to conceal human rights violations and a deepening political crisis. The UN must play a role in stopping rights violations in Bahrain and dissuading the dictators from persecuting critics.
The number of people arrested during two consecutive days last week of police raids in the town of Karzakkan has risen to seven. Among those detained are several minors. The last two names added to the list of arrests are Jassim Muhammad Taher and Muhammad Khalil Ibrahim. A senior political and religious figure went on strike to protest ill-treatment and lack of medical care. Sheikh Abdul Hadi Al-Mokhowdar was subjected to a tirade of abuse by the khalifi jailers: They kept telling him: You are a criminal.
UN expert on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor has expressed alarm “at the deteriorating health conditions of 3 human rights defenders in prison: Abduljalil Al-Singace, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Naji Fateel.
The Biden administration has once again, failed the cause of democracy and human rights in Bahrain by signing new agreements with a regime that is notorious for its cruelty and dictatorship. Last week US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken hosted Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the khalifi crown prince and prime minister, at the State Department for the signing of a bilateral agreement aimed at bolstering security and defense cooperation, enhancing economic ties and strengthening collaboration on science and technology. “At the heart of the agreement is a shared goal: working together to build a region that is more secure, more prosperous, and that’s more connected to the world economy,” Blinken said in a joint announcement. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East Human Rights Experte commented: “Painful to hear Secretary of State celebrating new security commitments to the Bahrain monarchical dictatorship while the country’s great democracy activists – like my friend Abdulhadi Alkhawaja – languish in prison. Truly Biden’s is a pretend values administration.” Front Line Defenders staff have sent “messages of solidarity to our former colleague and friend Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, unjustly imprisoned for 12 years in Bahrain.
Last week regime’s forces arrested a young woman after her return from Iraq where she took part in the annual Arbaeen march in memory of the events of Karbala in 680 AD. The woman, Shaikha al-Majed is a social media content creator had described her emotional feelings as she joined the marchers and re-lived the experience of the Karbala women as they were paraded by the Umayyad dictator, Yazid for 40 days. She said she shed a lot of tears as she had done during her pilgrimage to Mecca, noting certain differences. Her video clip went viral, causing anger in the khalifi household which hates the Hussaini revolt against the regime that they have been emulating for decades. The public prosecutor’s office in Manama jailed the woman for a week accusing her of “insults” directed at a “revered” religious figure. But the Iraqi Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee member Kareem Alewi al-Mohamadawi said the arrest is part of Manama’s sectarian persecution of Bahrain’s Shiite majority. The woman shared videos of her time in Iraq during Arbaeen, and al-Mohamadawi believes that this is the real reason for her arrest.
In an article in the Foreign Policy, Joey Shea discusses how repeated US failures to hold Saudi to account for a litany of human rights violations has emboldened the Saudi government, allowing it to act with impunity. A strong, decisive, public action is needed to counter mounting abuses. Under the title: Biden Is Letting Saudi Arabia Get Away With Murder, Again the writer says that Riyadh’s forces are killing defenseless Ethiopian migrants at its border, and Washington and its allies don’t seem to care.
Over 200 international organisations have signed a letter to the world’s governments who are attending the COP28 summit. They urged them to address the UAE’s human rights abuses ahead of the event and called for the release prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders. They said “There is no climate justice without human rights!” The signatories include English PEN, MENA Rights Group, and Freedom Forward.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
20th September 2023