Bahrain Freedom Movement Statements

Bahrainis mourn another martyr, Amnesty: Release Saudi women now

In the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday 26th March) a young native Bahraini was martyred as a result of serious medical neglect by the khalifi regime. Hussain Khalil Ibrahim AlRamram, 32 collapsed while playing football game inside the compound of the notorious Jau prison. He has been serving a draconian 15-year prison sentence since he was detained on 27th Mary 2017. Both his parents had died. His mother passed away in 2021 and he was allowed to attend briefly her funeral service. He has repeatedly called for proper medical care for his ailing health despite his young age. Only three weeks earlier he sent his family an audio message in which he was pleading for treatment. His calls have not been heeded and he was left to die in agony. The anger of the people was evident when they attended his funeral yesterday in their thousands from various parts of the country. Around 48 political prisoners have died while in custody since 2011. Political prisoner Ahmed Majed said: We suffer medical neglect in addition to social problems arising from being mixed with common law criminals.  Hassan Yousuf Abu Rwais said: Inmates at Bloc 7 of Jau prison are facing enormous pressures and deprivation; they were forced to declare their strike.

Regime’s forces have continued to detain native Bahrainis for calling for political rights. The regime’s prosecutors have extended the detention of Jaffar Taqi Al Halwachi by 15 more days. He was arrested on 14th February, the 13th anniversary of the eruption of the Bahraini Revolution.

Another crime has been committed by the khalifi hereditary dictatorship. On Monday 25th March prominent political figure, Ibrahim Sharif, was arrested and remanded in custody for a week. He is being investigated about his tweets on two areas: financial corruption of the regime’s senior figures and the regime’s policy on Gaza. He has joined several protests in support of the Palestinian people and has galvanized public opinion in a direction that does not please the hereditary dictatorship. His detention has angered many. Amnesty International condemned the arrest and called for Ibrahim’s immediate release. Al Wefaq Society expressed similar views and considered the detention as a persecution. ADHRB joined in the condemnation and called for his release.

Political prisoners who have been moved to isolation units (that amount to solitary confinement) have threatened to take more actions to force the khalifi dictators to move them back to normal cells. In a statement last week they described the policy of isolating some prisoners as a form of revenge. Some of them have been in isolation for more than three years and are mixed with common law criminals.

Criticism has been levelled against the regime’s decision to buy Abrams tanks from the United States. The deal will cost at least $2.2 billion at a time when the country is suffering serious economic hardship and a degree of austerity. The khalifi dictator seeks to secure US and UK protection through these deals. It also bought large shares of McLaren cars which is suffering serious deficit threatening its survival. This is part of the regime’s policy to secure the Formula1 race in Bahrain. It is paying $52 million annually to attract the race. The most recent deal between the khalifis and F1 which has been signed amounts to $728 to last until 2036.

In the first-of-its-kind debate on “sportswashing” in the House of Lords on March 21, Lord Scriven slammed F1 and accused F1 CEO Stefano Dominecali of “arrogance, lack of professionalism and non-engagement” and “damaging the reputation of his sport as he refuses to engage with the issues around F1 and human rights.” “He [Domenicali] thinks he can just receive the reported £574 million from the Bahrain authorities up to 2036 that makes him and his organisation richer, while having nothing to do with the real issues that his sport is helping to cloak in Bahrain.” Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle also raised F1, stating: “The regime has regularly used the Grand Prix to enhance its image, and over the past two decades, […] there have been numerous human rights violations directly associated with the event itself; we are coming back to bloodstains again.”

Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement in support of jailed Saudi women. It said: For more than 100 days, Manahel al-Otaibi’s family have been desperately seeking answers as to her whereabouts. Saudi authorities arrested the 29-year-old fitness instructor and human rights defender in November 2022 and have forcibly disappeared her since November 2023. She now awaits trial before the notorious counter-terrorism court. Her “crime”? Sharing writings and posting photos on social media in support of women’s rights. PhD student and mother of two Salma al-Shehab was also arrested in Saudi Arabia while she was visiting from the UK in 2021. Last year, a terrorism court sentenced her to 27 years in prison followed by a 27-year travel ban – for tweeting in support of women’s rights. AI said: With Saudi authorities trying to sweep stories like Manahel and Salma’s under the rug, it’s up to us to make sure they’re not forgotten. Let’s show Saudis our silence cannot be bought.

Staff and students at the University of Leeds have signed a letter urging the university’s leaders to call for PhD student Salma al-Shehab’s release. Al-Shehab is serving a 27-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia for supporting women’s rights. On the International Women Day (21st March) MENA group for human rights called for her release. Salma has not seen her children in years.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

27th March 2024

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