Saudi Authorities Target Families of Activists: Deprived of Life!

By al-Ahed

Beirut – The Saudi authorities continue their escalatory policies to silence any voice demanding rights and justice. In the context of tightening the grip on peaceful activists, the Saudi regime continues its oppressive measures against their families. It is preventing the families of those “wanted” from basic services, punishing them for their rightful activism.

According to information obtained by al-Ahed news, the Saudi authorities are banning families of activists from the governmental services, as well as depriving them of traveling or obtaining any personal document such as a passport or an identity card.

The families are also deprived of issuing identity and health cards belonging to their children, making it impossible for them to receive any kind of medical treatment or even entering hospitals.

The measures are practiced against the mothers, fathers, siblings, wives and children of those “wanted”, and include the educational services, banning them even from registering them at schools.

Not to mention, they are also being targeted financially as they are not allowed to renew their bank cards once they are expired, leading eventually to close their entire bank accounts, and logically, stop their living and daily affairs…

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“People Who Never had a Voice Now Have One and will Never Give it up Again”

Interview with Venezuelan in Canada

*re-published at Global Research

Eva Bartlett 

On April 25th, I gave a talk on some of what I had seen in Venezuela, March-April, sharing photos and clips–with an emphasis of allowing people to hear voices our media generally silences or pretends don’t exist.

In Q & A, the issue of discrimination and racism in Venezuela was raised. This eloquent Venezuelan musician replied to the question so articulately, and disturbingly, that I asked him to re-address it on camera after the event.

Do listen to his words not only on the racism that still exists (not only in Venezuela but in media portrayal of Venezuelans), that in the 80s there actually was a crisis, unlike today, and that the people won’t let their revolution end.

Excerpts:

“In 1999, for the 1st time every in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of colour. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.” <!–more CONTINUE READING–>

“In Venezuela, its a racism that’s very alive, but hidden under class status. When you come to Canada, you just don’t see Venezuelans that look like me, at all. Or even if you go to the States, anywhere you go, you’re not gonna see Venezuelans that look like me.”

“What the Canadian public, the American public and the international community are watching is a huge Hollywood show.”

“I have a challenge for anyone in the opposition to simply answer one question: What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!”

US Commission: Saudi Arabia Is Top Violator of Religious Freedom

By Staff, MEE

The US State Department designated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s “worst violators” of religious freedoms, even as Riyadh remains one of Washington’s top allies in the region.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom [USCIRF] released its 2019 report on Monday listing Saudi Arabia in the tier one category of countries that implement severe violations of religious freedom.

The annual report, released by the bipartisan organization created two decades ago, highlights the discrimination that Shia Muslims and Christians face in the country.

“Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack access to senior positions in the government and military,” the 234-page report said.

“As a matter of law, the Saudi government bans the public practice of non-Muslim faiths by citizens and expatriates alike. While the Saudi government has stated repeatedly that non-Muslims who are not converts from Islam may practice their religion in private, this policy has not been codified,” the reported added.

Last week, Saudi Arabia executed 37 people on ‘terrorism’ charges.

Thirty-two of those executed were from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority and a number of them were juveniles when they were arrested, including a teenager who had planned to study in the US.

The US placed Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top “countries of particular concern” or CPCs in November 2018.

However, Johnnie Moore, USCIRF’s commissioner who wrote the profile on Saudi Arabia, said promoting “punitive measures” against the kingdom would be counterproductive.

“Such punitive measures could likely have the effect of forcing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage directly and more seriously with countries where religious freedom is not a consideration at all in their foreign policy priorities,” he said.

The State Department recommends granting Saudi Arabia a special waiver because the country is an “important interest to the United States”, the report said.

Saudi Arabia and the US share a deep alliance. The US purchases Saudi oil while the kingdom has ordered billions of dollars of arms from the United States.

Saudi Arabia was the first overseas country visited by US President Donald Trump after he became president in 2017, and his visit to Riyadh came just weeks before Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies initiated a blockade of Qatar.

Trump has continued to stress the importance of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia even after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which prompted near global condemnation.

Bahraini Activist Najah Yusuf Details Her Imprisonment for Facebook Posts Protesting Bahrain Formula 1 Race

By Phillip Bupp – Awful Announcing

Najah Yusuf is an activist from Bahrain and is currently serving a three-year sentence for what the Bahrain government claimed was “defaming the state, hurting its interests and distorting the image of the kingdom abroad.”

In reality, Yusuf was jailed over Facebook posts advocating for the cancellation of Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix, calling it a form of propaganda by the country and a tool to mask Bahrain’s brutal human rights record. In a special piece for the Guardian, Yusuf claimed that criticizing Formula 1 is considered a “threat to national security” in Bahrain.

In her report, Yusuf detailed some of the terrible things she has had to go through since she was arrested in 2017. Before being coerced into signing a confession, Yusuf claimed she was threatened, beaten and raped, eventually signing the confession after five days of abuse.

“For four days, I was relentlessly interrogated because of Facebook posts, including those that called for the race to be cancelled and for the release of others imprisoned for criticizing Formula One. I was lured to the Muharraq police station, under the pretense of signing a statement on behalf of my son.”

“When I arrived, the questions began. They forcibly took my phone away from me, threatening to kill my son when I refused to unlock it. They asked me about my relationships with various human rights defenders, activists and opposition groups.”

“They threatened to kill me, they tried to bribe me, they beat me. But worst of all, officers tore off my hijab and attempted to strip me of my clothes, before an officer sexually assaulted me in custody. The pain and humiliation of that week will haunt me for the rest of my life. All this because I took a stand against state repression and the grand prix.”

“On the fifth day, I could take it no more. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I wanted it to end. Officers presented me with a prepared confession to sign. While I was reading it, the officers beat me again and threatened to rape me. So I signed it.”

Yusuf’s account is very believable when you compare it to Bahrain’s overall human rights record. Yusuf explained how things didn’t stop for her and those around her when she was put in prison:

“Since I arrived at Isa Town prison, my suffering has only continued. Prison authorities regularly discriminate against me on account of my status as a political prisoner. Last September, my cellmate and fellow political prisoner Hajer Mansoor was hospitalized following an assault by prison guards. An early day motion in the British parliament identified this assault as being led by the head of Isa Town prison, Lieutenant Colonel Mariam Albardoli. This occurred days after Hajer Mansoor’s son-in-law, Sayed Alwadaei, briefed MPs about our cases. We were subsequently cited by an MP in the British parliament, along with our cellmate Medina Ali.”

“Since then, all inmates have been punished collectively because I had the temerity to speak out, with restrictions on our family visits, phone calls and time outside the cell. The prison authorities want to silence us, but we will not stop protesting at the appalling conditions at Isa Town prison, which were recently condemned by the UN.”

“I am a mother of four, but I have not seen my children for the past six months. The same punishment has been inflicted on my cellmates, Hajer and Medina. The situation breaks my heart, but I count myself lucky compared to others.”

Formula 1 has a history of being on the side of horrible people. Despite international sanctions from many other countries, as well as many sponsors and drivers opposing South Africa in the time of apartheid, Formula 1 kept racing in Kyalami until 1985, being one of the final international sports organizations to operate in South Africa at that time. Apartheid would be abolished in 1991 and Formula 1 raced in South Africa one more time in 1992.

Formula 1 did cancel the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix due to pro-democracy protests taking place, but that was more about the safety of those going to the race and not so much making a statement supporting the protestors or the safety of the protestors themselves. Yusuf finished her piece calling for F1 fans to not forget what is going on in Bahrain, even if they may be watching this weekend’s race in Sakhir.

“Although I am still paying for my decision to take a stand against the grand prix, my stance has not changed. For years, the ruling family has used the race to clean up its international reputation and whitewash its disregard for human rights. During this period, Formula One has consistently ignored the abuses that occur.”

“In 2017, I backed the calls for “freedom for Formula detainees”. I never thought I would become one of them. Every moment I spend in prison stains the reputation of Formula One, who have abandoned their commitment to freedom of expression and allowed injustice to be perpetrated in their name.”

“Despite the fervor of excitement, I implore all fans of Formula 1 to remember my story and the suffering of thousands of Bahraini citizens. Don’t allow the race to be stained by Bahrain’s human rights abuses.”

Formula 1 has been dragging their feet in reacting to Yusuf’s imprisonment. The organization said they were “concerned” but efforts to resolve things with the Bahrain government have been poor at best. Human rights groups have tried to reach Formula 1 and the FIA, and they have also attempted to contact five-time defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton and other drivers to inform them about what is happening.

It’s unknown what will happen to Yusuf after her report, considering she’s still in prison. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that while Bahrain is trying to treat a Formula 1 race as propaganda, they can’t hide everything.

Jewdas Lies Again

March 11, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

jewdas.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

In August 2017 Jewdas,  a bunch of self- proclaimed ‘alternative’ Diaspora Jews were exposed as merely a brand of dishonest Zionist merchants. They picketed my concert at the Vortex and handed out flyers presenting a pile of fabrications and misquotes attributed to me.

They were filmed and exposed as liars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKMITv5ZPdw

Watch Jewdas lying through their teeth…

But Jewdas did not learn their lesson. They are attempting to repeat their failure. This time they call to Shut Down Nazi Apologist Jazz with a plan to picket my concert at the Vortex on Friday.

I am not a Nazi apologist. I am an opponent of all forms of racism and discrimination. Jewdas does not even attempt to explain why they call  me a ‘Nazi apologist,’ Instead they provide a  link to a Zionist write-up on Rationalwiki that is in itself a set of quotes taken out of context in an intentionally misleading manner. Here is Rationalwiki’s takedown of me:  “Atzmon has been accused of denying the Holocaust; he objects to this. ‘I have never denied the Holocaust or any other historical chapter,’ he says. ‘I also find the notion of ‘holocaust denial’ to be meaningless, and on the verge of idiotic.’

Here is the actual quote of my talk delivered in Freiburg, Germany in 2011. “Needless to say, I have never denied the Holocaust or any other historical chapter. I also find the notion of ‘holocaust denial’ to be meaningless, and on the verge of idiotic. However, I do indeed insist, as I did here today, that history must remain an open discourse, subject to changes and revision, I oppose any attempt to seal the past, whether it is the Nakba, the  Holocaust, the Holodomor or the Armenian genocide. I am convinced that an organic and ‘elastic’ understanding of the past is the true essence of a  humanist discourse, universalism and ethics.”https://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/gilad-atzmon-being-in-time.html)

One may wonder, if there was any truth in their  claim, why those Zionists and their so-called ‘alternative’ twins see the need to attribute to me fabricated quotes and misquotes in an attempt to deceive? One possible answer is that I brought to light a truth which they can’t handle let alone suppress.

In my work I repeatedly argue that history must be open to discussion. Revisiting and rethinking history is at the core of universal ethical thinking and the aspiration for a better future! If the English speaking empire had been brave enough to face its past conduct, it might have saved itself from repeating its crimes in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. If Israel and its Lobby were honourable enough to examine Jewish history, it would probably attempt to prevent its enthusiastic Lobby from causing more harm. If Jewdas were simply able to re-visit its recent past or just watch the above expose of themselves caught in their lies, one would think they would want to avoid re-exposure as an authoritarian intolerant Jewish thought police dedicated to harassing a non-political music venue.

Given Britain’s present economic and political woes, perhaps the Jewdas warriors for their own particular brand of correct ‘alternative’ Jewish thought would be wise to support elementary freedoms and civilized debate. Jewdas might even wish to allow the Brits a night off from the toxic political environment to just enjoy music. The music might even soothe the self-righteous arrogance of those whose satisfaction is gained by calling me and others names.

 Defy the oppressive, duplicitous and dictatorial forces. Join us at the Vortex this weekend

To Book on line:

Fri March 15 click here

Sat March 16 Click here

Denote

The Farewell Visit, Hours before the Execution…

Zeinab Daher

A few hours before the execution of three Bahraini activists, Ali al-Singace, Abbas al-Sami’ and Sami Mushaima, the Bahraini prison’s administration summoned the families of the martyrs in an unexpected call to visit their sons.

The regime in Manama carried out the death verdicts on Sunday [January 15, 2017], triggering angry demonstrations across the kingdom mainly in the villages of Diraz, Bani Jamra and Sanabis.

The youngest among them is Martyr Ali al-Singace who was under the legal age, only 15, when he was first arrested before the Bahraini revolution. He was allegedly accused of attacking an officer, and was later released after the breakout of the Bahraini revolution.

Ali was later kidnapped at the age of 16 and was threatened with being killed unless he operates as a secret agent for armed militias. The young martyr, who was still a student back then, was soon after sentenced to 5 years in prison for the case of February 14, for which he remained on the run, away from his family.

Finally, on the day of the alleged murder of Emirati officer Tariq al-Shihi and two policemen in al-Daih blast [March, 2014], Bahraini authorities stormed Ali’s house. He was detained about a year later and was sentenced to death, along with martyrs Abbas al-Sami’ and Sami Mushaima, for fabricated accusations.

However, it is worth mentioning that Ali, his family and all evidences confirm he had not been interrogated regarding the case of al-Shihi’s death.

So how could he be sentenced to death in a case he wasn’t even investigated for?

Speaking to al-Ahed News website, mother of 22 year-old Martyr Ali al-Singace described the procedure they went through one day ahead of the crime against the Bahraini activists: “The day before the execution, on Saturday, we were informed that we are allowed to visit our sons.”

They asked the martyrs on Saturday morning to give them the numbers of their families, the mother noted. “They wanted to give us their personal stuff, their clothes, food, shampoo, toothpaste… they wanted them to hand in all their personal stuff.”

The prison’s administration called Ali’s father, they informed him that at 16:00 they have to visit their son.

The family was suspicious of the news since no visits are allowed on Saturdays: “We called the family of martyr Abbas al-Sami’, they also said they have a visit at 14:30, then I called the family of martyr Sami Mushaima, they still hadn’t received any phone call at the time. But they were later informed that their visit is scheduled to be at 13:00,” the mother added.

“Our sons didn’t know that we will visit them. They learned about the visit half an hour before the first meeting of the Mushaima family. Each one of them was in solitary confinement, yet they could hear each other’s voices. All of them learned at 12:30 that they will be visited by their families.”

According to the bereaved mom, the martyrs themselves were cautious about the news: “Everybody knows that there are no visits on Saturdays. This, itself, represented an execution.”

“The visit wasn’t like any other… we underwent very careful inspection. Before we entered the prison, we were inspected in an outside cabin, then we were inspected again before we entered a car accompanied with 4 policewomen and 2 policemen,” the mother explained. She further noted that “after we got out of the vehicle, we were inspected again. The moment we entered the place, we saw many police officers on both sides. Between 50 or 60 police personnel, males and females, were deployed in the place.”

“Some four or five policewomen were standing next to us. They kept wearing their sunglasses, observing us during the one-hour visit.”

Martyr Ali al-Singace’s mother told us that the same strict inspection was applied on them as they exited the place… “We were surprised, we were only thinking of the entire procedure we went through.”

The mother explained the treatment they went through as “brutal inspection.”

“I told myself that the moment was a goodbye moment. I told my son to expect that this is the final visit… I told him this might be the last time we see each other although we didn’t know before. I had that feeling… I felt it is the time to say goodbye…”

On the next day, Ali’s father received a call at 09:00 in the morning informing him to come take his son’s corpse from a very far area, not in the region where they live.

“We wanted to bury him an al-Sanabis but they didn’t accept. We feared that they would bury them some place without knowing anything regarding their whereabouts,” the mom said.

Although our sons were executed, people here in Bahrain won’t be silenced and won’t stop their protests.

Ali, just like many other ‘opinion detainees’ in Bahrain, received his judgement in absentia. Also like many other innocent detainees, he was subjected to electric shocks, torture and insults to confess committing ‘crimes’ he actually didn’t.

Ever since the peaceful popular protests started in early 2011, Manama has provided a heavy-handed security response. The clampdown has cost scores of lives.

Later during the popular uprising, the regime called in Saudi and Emirati reinforcements to help it muffle dissent.

1,300 Bahrainis have been arrested and those still in detention have been tortured and denied access to medical care. Hospitals have been militarized as doctors and nurses are harassed for treating victims of the protests. Thousands of workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for taking part in the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, as the international community – particularly in the West – has been quite vocal in condemning atrocities committed against protesters in some Middle Eastern countries, things in Bahrain go the other way. When it comes to the injustice practiced against people there, calls from the West for an end to the authorities’ human rights abuses have been rather muted.

People who demand freedom would definitely offer big sacrifices, and so is the case of the families of Bahraini martyrs. They well accept the martyrdom of their loved ones. They believe that their sons are in heaven, and that justice would spread some day, when the tyrant would receive his due punishment.

Al-Ahed News

US Lawyers ’Paying Attention’ as Female Saudi Activist Due in Court

Local Editor

Female human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham could become the first woman ever sentenced to death for nonviolent protest in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in a case human rights lawyers say “may well constitute multiple violations of international human rights law.”

Al-Ghomgham is one of six Saudi human rights defenders standing trial at the country’s infamous Specialized Criminal Court, five of whom are facing possible death sentences. The court has a history of unfair trials resulting in executions.

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on dissent is attracting fresh attention following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi late last year.

Israa al-Ghomgham’s case 

Al-Ghomgham has been in detention since 2015, when she was arrested for activism related to fighting discrimination against Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority.

She is charged with things including chanting “we shall not be humiliated,” and “we demand penalties for those who fired bullets,” according to a brief on the case written by international human rights lawyer Oliver Windridge, which was circulated by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court was created to hear terrorism cases, but Windridge says “its focus appears to have moved from terrorist suspects to human rights defenders and anti-government protesters.”

Violations of international human rights law?

In his brief, Windridge lays out three ways in which the prosecution’s indictment against al-Ghomgham may violate international law:

First, he points out that the prosecution is relying on confessions from all six of the accused. Saudi Arabia has a history of relying on confessions made after torture. Torture is banned under international law, and any allegations of it are required to be investigated.

Second, Windridge points out the non-serious nature of the crimes the accused are charged with, for which the prosecution is seeking the death sentence in five cases. Windridge says the non-violent crimes fall “well short” of the standard required to make the death penalty acceptable under international law.

Third, Windridge points out that many of the slogans the accused are charged with chanting, such as “we demand the annulment of capital punishment sentences,” are benign and would, “even if proved to be true… fall well within permitted forms of expression under international human rights law”.

International attention

In an email, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights said it hoped, “to make it known that the international community is closely monitoring this situation and is paying attention to the outcome of (al-Ghomgham’s) case.”

“In my view, the specialized criminal court continues, in all these cases, to violate international human rights law,” Windridge told CBS News.

The six activists, including al-Ghomgham, are due to appear in court on Sunday, January 13.

Source: CBS News, Edited by website team

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