‘Night of the Beating’: Details Emerge of Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Purge

Source

November 20, 2020

Capture

In early November 2017, nearly 400 of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful people, among them princes, tycoons and ministers, were rounded up and detained in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, in what became the biggest and most contentious purge in the modern kingdom’s history.

The arrests shook the foundations of Saudi society, in an instant turning untouchable establishment figures into targets for arrest. Statuses were discarded, assets seized and business empires upended. A conventional pact between the state and its influential elite was shredded overnight.

Now, leading figures caught up in the detentions have revealed details of what they say took place. The former detainees, many of whom were stripped of fortunes, portray a scene of torture and coercion, and of royal court advisers leading chaotic attempts to understand the investments behind the wealth of the kingdom’s most influential families, then seizing what they could find.

The accounts of what occurred in the Ritz, provided through an intermediary, are from some of the most senior Saudi business figures, who claim to have been beaten and intimidated by security officers, under the supervision of two ministers, both close confidantes of the man who ordered the purge, the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

The disclosures come on the third anniversary of the purge and ahead of the G20 summit in Riyadh this weekend, which the Covid-19 pandemic has turned from a global showpiece into a giant webinar. Prince Mohammad, the de facto ruler, will also from January face a new US president who is likely to eschew the wholesale cover provided by the Trump administration in favor of a more conventional approach that pays some heed to human rights issues.

Advocates of the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia among them Loujain al-Hathloul, remain in prison in Riyadh, despite campaigns for their release. The summit, a theme of which is women’s empowerment, has been flagged as a moment to offer clemency, but officials have remained unmoved.

The Ritz-Carlton detentions often started with a phone call, summoning targets for meetings with Prince Mohammad, or King Salman himself. In another case, two prominent businessmen said they were told to meet in a home and wait for a royal court adviser to join them. Instead, state security officials showed up, ushering them to a five-star prison, where guards and senior aides were waiting.

“On the first night, everyone was blindfolded and nearly everyone was subjected to what Egyptian intelligence calls the ‘night of the beating’”, said a source with intimate knowledge of what took place. “People were asked if they knew why they were there. No one did. Most were beaten, some of them badly. There were people tied to the walls, in stress positions. It went on for hours, and all of those doing the torturing were Saudis.

“It was designed to soften them up. And then the next day, the interrogators arrived.”

The detainees had by then been separated into rooms in the hotel that a year earlier had been the venue for the launch of Prince Mohammad’s ambitious “Vision 2030” plan – an overhaul of Saudi society that was meant to open a rigid country to a world at that point intrigued by the breadth of his promised reforms.

“There is a misconception that they turned up all-knowing with pages of data and information,” a source said, of the interrogators. “They didn’t. They in fact knew very little and were winging it. They were OK on Saudi assets, but they were hopeless on the offshore stuff.”

Some detainees spoke of being threatened with the release of private information, such as extramarital affairs, or business dealings that would not have won approval even under the old system. Next to nothing leaked, but the few details that did emerge gave relevance to the calls Ibrahim Warde, an adjunct professor of international finance at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in the US, had started receiving in mid-2017 from former students asking about prominent Saudis whose careers he had explored in course work. He sensed something big was looming in Riyadh, and he was right.

“Many of those who came out of my classes ended up in the world of financial intelligence,” he said. “I kept getting strange requests from some of them about who was involved in various financial shenanigans. It became clear that they were preparing reports for companies that were acting for Saudis back home.”

The lack of understanding of investment structures surprised some of the men being questioned. “They were guessing peoples’ net worth,” said the source familiar with events inside the Ritz. “It was a shakedown. At one point, they gave people access to their emails and phones and told them to contact their [banking] relationship managers in Geneva and ask for large sums of money. The callers were told there was no equity in the accounts. [The interrogators] thought all the assets were in cash.”

A senior banking source, who refused to be named, said executives across the Swiss banking sector had launched an investigation in the wake of irregular transactions at the time of the crackdowns. “A lot of these transfers appear to have been made under duress. Some were stopped, because the requests were not routine. But some got through.”

Many of those detained told aides they remained puzzled about why they were there. Some had been confidantes of the Saudi monarchy over generations, benefiting from their access to monarchs and princes who had not been shy in cultivating business leaders through access and largesse. All Saudi royals had enjoyed relationships with industrialist dynasties and political patronage had been central to the trade-off. “This is an absolute monarchy, which means that leaders can do what they want,” the source said. “People won favors through long-held customs.

“Often they had no idea what they were looking for. It became straight up blackmail in some cases, because some of the detainees were refusing to sign anything. There was no due process. There is no such thing in the Saudi justice system as a plea bargain, but that was what they were trying to enforce.”

Three years on, Prince Mohammad remains insistent that all those stripped of wealth had been guilty of corruption. Saudi officials say up to $107bn (£80bn) was recovered from 87 people and returned to the Saudi treasury. The detentions garnered broad support across parts of Saudi society, where the crown prince remains popular despite three years of damaging headlines, including the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out in Istanbul by a hit squad linked to Prince Mohammad’s former aide.

The sources who spoke to the Guardian said the figure seized was closer to $28bn and claimed the purge came at the price of breaking trust between the monarchy and the Saudi business community.

“This was about consolidating his rule, plain and simple. It came before the Khashoggi atrocity, and the fact that he got away with it allowed him to do the latter. The same guards involved in the Ritz were involved in the killing. History won’t be kind to MBS on either,” one of the sources said.

Warde said: “Anti-corruption initiatives are usually politically motivated. They are often tools for singling out those who were enriched. They provide selective lists of those who were enriched. This was a clear case of the intersection of money and politics in the Islamic world.”

Source: The Guardian

In Serbia, la Résistance continues

In Serbia, la Résistance continues

August 08, 2020

by Saker’s Johnny-on-the-spot in Belgrade for The Saker Blog

Last Monday, August 3 – to paraphrase President Roosevelt – was a day that will live in Serbia’s parliamentary infamy. The fraudulently elected “parliament” was formally seated, but its inauguration was most inauspicious. On the plateau in front of the Parliament building indignant citizens greeted the arrival of the tyrant’s rubber stamp “parliamentarians” with angry shouts, eggs (hopefully as rotten as their targets), and tomatoes. Take a watch:

A journalist inside the building tried to strike up impromptu conversations with the new “legislators,” but few seemed self-confident enough to chat or even bold enough to identify themselves by name. One of them (Vučić’s former minister of culture Tasovac, at 00.36 seconds, with his signature bizarre hairstyle) tried to run away. If you speak Serbian, take another watch, but if you do not speak the language, no big deal. Just kick back and enjoy the obvious discomfort of these fraudsters, whose body language is a clear admission that they are where they do not belong:

Would anyone watching this disgraceful spectacle ever guess that the renewal of Serbia’s independent statehood in early 19th century was accompanied at every turn by vibrant parliamentary life? Tyranny and one-man rule are inherently incompatible with the Serbian ethos. Even during the first Serbian insurrection against Ottoman occupation in 1804 there was an advisory soviet (Правителствующій совѣт сербскій) to make sure that Karageorge, the leader of the rebellion, would not be making arbitrary decisions. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, Parliament or Скупштина, played a major role in political life, balancing the power of the prince and later the king. The golden age of Serbian parliamentarianism was the first decade of the 20th century when the Skupština, in terms of the quality of its proceedings and elite composition, which included the country’s most accomplished citizens and finest minds, was more than a match for its Western European models. Their successors today are colorless, insecure non-entities looking only for a sinecure and always ready to raise their hands approvingly at the command of their ruling party superiors.

And they will be expected to do just that soon, when the constitutional amendament to delete the preamble which asserts that Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia is put before them. They will be expected also to approve mass compulsory Covid-19 vaccionations with hastily improvised, untested and unsafe experimental preparations which the regime intends to use on a good part of the Serbian population as guinea pigs, in return for hefty bribes from crooked pharmaceutical manufacturers. And they will at some point undoubtedly raise their hands also when asked to publicly approve the currently secret arrangements whereby hordes of migrants deemed superflous by Germany, Austria, and other EU countries will be dumped on Serbia, to be permanently settled here.

Serbs are expressing their utter disgust at the regime’s rampaging madness with various degrees of public intensity, depending on where they happen to be. On August 8, free Serbs in the diaspora conducted protests against the Vučić regime in about a dozen world capitals and major cities. These are their plans and demands:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Anti Vucic protests\SRBI SVETA FACEBOOK ADRESE.png

The symbol of the diaspora protests are Rattling Keys, signifying the incarcerated condition of the Serbian people in their homeland under tyrannical rule. Here are some scenes from the protests far from the reach of Vučić’s lawless tontons macoutes:

Srbi u dijaspori, protesti, Švajcarska

“Phony elections, a phony parliament, soon a phony government, phony figures of Corona virus victims. We can no longer keep silent as democracy and freedom are being obliterated,” according to Lazar Karapandža, spokesman for the „Democracy 4 Serbia“ protests.

Their compatriots in Serbia, however, are less fortunate when it comes to freely expressing their views. The regime is installing face recognition cameras all over Belgrade, and probably in the interior as well. There is a price to be paid for non-conformist thinking and behaviour in today’s Serbia. A woman who attended the nightly protest in front of the Parliament building in Belgrade a few days ago was followed by two uniformed policemen when she boarded a bus to go home. They asked her for her ID, Ihre Papiere bitte, presumably in Serbian, and demanded she get off at the next stop so that they could issue her a 5000 dinar (about $50) fine, a small fortune in Vučić’s prosperous Serbia. When the lady, who has no criminal record, asked the police why they were doing that, they replied “because we saw you at the protest”. Take a watch at how police intimidation unfolded (00 to 3:14 minutes), in front of the Parliament of aspiring EU applicant Serbia:

But all told the lady got off relatively lightly. On Thursday, a 31-year-old man, whom the authorities identified only as P. G., was arrested in the provincial city of Užice over twenty days after committing the heinous offense for which charges against him are now being pressed. The corpus delicti was that together with other miscreants P. G. took part in an anti-regime demonstration, pictured below

http://srbin.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/u%C5%BEice.jpg

in front of the building housing the headquarters of the ruling party. During the disturbance – and get this gentle readers – the crowd pelted “with eggs, tomatoes, and paint” a huge poster of – need I explicitly disclose who? – and the banner of his Serbian Progressive Party.

The hapless P. G. was jailed for 48 hours, pending a court decision on whether detention should be extended for the next thirty days. Three young men who were also charged with defacing the tyrant’s image with paint and assorted vegetables were threatened by prosecutors with four-month prison terms for “unruly conduct.”

With such outstanding first hand reports, the unflattering assessment by the respected French weekly political magazine “Le Point,” that “the dream of the rule of law in the heart of the Balkans is increasingly fading,” is as unsurprising as it is easily verifiable.

Mincing no words in its blazing headline, “Aleksandar Vucic, le satrape des Balkans”, so transparently damning that it does not even require a translation, having made plain that Serbia is ruled by a lawless regime, “Le Point” points out the seeming paradox that “beyond Serbia’s borders no European country dares to criticize Vučić’s abuses. There is an explanation for such diplomatic leniency. The West believes that as a leader Vučić is capable of bringing lasting peace to the heart of Europe. But how?”

“By recognizing Kosovo,” the French weekly calmly answers its own rhetorical question.

The conclusion rings true, but it is hardly a compliment from the standpoint of most Serbs.

So Vučić’s game is largely up. His measure has been taken, and he has been found wanting. His pretenses are not believed, they are merely being tolerated, and for the sake of a larger objective set by globalist power centers whose marionette he is. Once he facilitates that objective, his tolerated abuses will be turned into a lengthy indictment, the usual grim fate of satraps. (For those interested in linguistic precision, “satrap” is defined as “a provincial governor in the ancient Persian empire” or alternatively “any subordinate or local ruler.” The French are known for carefully picking their words.) Vučić will then be toast, as dispensable as used toilet paper. But if he fails to facilitate it, he will also be toast, as he very well understands. Either way, he goes down in flames with his toadies.

If you are upset, bots and trolls, spare me the invective. Earn your daily sandwich for a change by haranguing “Le Point’s” editors instead. This is their email: abo@lepoint.fr .

Tell them how they’ve got it all wrong, won’t you? And do it in impeccable French.

Serbian tyrant caught in a pincer, the stage is set for his spectacular fall

Source

Serbian tyrant caught in a pincer, the stage is set for his spectacular fall

by Saker’s Johnny-on-the-spot for The Saker Blog

We spoke too soon, it turns out, about the Dr. Vladimir Mentus, the young Serbian sociologist, being released from prison and charges against him being dropped. At one point several days ago the appellate chamber did vacate the of the misdemeanour court judge’s decision sentencing Dr Mentus to thirty days for participation in the protests, specifically for “insulting” the police, and remanded the case to the lower court for reconsideration in line with its analysis. So is Dr Mentus now back home with his family? Not at all, the lower court has resentenced him to 30 days in prison, but on slightly altered grounds that he participated in acts of disorder which resulted in damage to public property. That is the way the travesty known as the “justice system” operates in Vučić’s “European Serbia.”

But unenviable as the position of Vučić’s political prisoner Vladimir Mentus may be, the tyrant Alexander Vučić is in a far worse jam. He is caught in a pincer between the demands of his Western sponsors to sign off on the recognition of Kosovo, and the swelling internal discontentment which delegitimizes him. At present, but for its disgraced president Serbia does not have any legally functioning institutions. The cabinet’s mandate ran out over a month ago. Since constitutionally the President’s role is ceremonial (although additional powers belonging to other branches of the government were unlawfully seized by the usurper) if a legally binding decision on Kosovo were to be taken, it could be done only by the prime minister and the cabinet, which are currently in a lame duck, caretaker capacity. As for Vučić’s fraudulently elected “parliament,” which needs to change the constitution for the separation of Kosovo to be legally possible, it has not been constituted yet and diehard protesters have vowed to make sure it never is and are demanding the annulment of the phony elections. Without parliament to approve it, the new government cannot be legally constituted nor can the act of treason Vučić has obligated himself to commit be performed with an appearance of constitutional regularity. So those who engineered Vučić’s installation eight years ago must deal with their puppet’s meltdown just as the task for which they installed him – recognition of the narco-state of Kosovo – is going into high gear and approaching its projected climax.

Dr Vladimir Mentus will very likely be out of the pokey in thirty days, but will Alexander Vučić by them still be around?

Ultimately, that decision will not be made by the usurper, or even by the leaderless and unorganized Serbian people, but by Western power centers and their intelligence services. They are now assessing Vučić’s overall usefulness in light of the bloody mess that his stupid and inept conduct has created. They must, of course, also calculate into their equations the impending crash of the Serbian economy, with projected one million unemployed roaming the streets. Not to be forgotten is another significant category of victims, the 1,700,000 pensioners facing a drastic reduction in their monthly allotments as government income shrinks and foreign loans, taken out under even the most usurious conditions, become increasingly difficult to arrange. Faced with the obligation of paying off billions of euros in soon to mature debts due to international creditors, with the hefty interest that those loans carry, and looking after his jobless subjects or the pensioners whom Vučić has already fleeced with impunity on numerous occasions, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what the cornered tyrant will do. The result will be a renewed explosion of social unrest compared to which the recent turmoil will seem no more than a minor bump in the road. These are huge factors shaping the hard-nosed assessment of Vučić’s viability by whoever is assessing his usefulness, and the folks doing the assessment right now as I write this are nothing if not hard-nosed.

Sidebar: The persistent rumor that a desperate Vučić, anxious to ingratiate himself with his Western masters, is ready to appoint the chief NATO lobbyist in Serbia, head of the Russophobic  Soros NGO CEAS (Center for Euroatlantic Studies), Jelena Milić, to the post of foreign minister or some other high position in the new cabinet, gained credence today. The main regime rag, “Informer,” published Milić’s letter to Tania Fajon and several other EU officials who were rather mildly critical of police brutality in Serbia, telling them that everything is fine and warning them not to interfere in the regime’s internal affairs. The odious Milić is ingratiating herself with Vučić, who may have decided already to use her to try to ingratiate himself with his Western NATO masters. If the despised Milić is appointed to any government position, even cleaning lady in the foreign ministry, in the long run that will not be the factor that could save Vučić, but it will be a slap in the face for Russia and clear proof that it miscalculated completely when it bet, however grudgingly, on the Serbian tyrant.

To this dismal picture should be added ominous warning signals that the same people who invented Vučić and put him in place are now busy reinventing him in the form of a resurgent Western financed “civic opposition,” ready to jump in and take over, possibly in a palace coup, should Vučić try to weasel out of the treasonous commitments made to his foreign masters.

These characters are, to be sure, just as despised as Vučić. As we pointed out in earlier sit-reps, they were booed off the stage and physically chased away by protesting patriotic citizens when they tried to mingle with the crowds to profit from the photo-op and misrepresent themselves as popular tribunes. They are, however, being organized by Vučić’s masters, persistently and with considerable fanfare, as Serbia’s potential shadow government in waiting. After a suitably arranged “color revolution,” they would be ready and able to complete their predecessor’s job. If the usurper is on sleeping tablets, there are sound reasons for his distress.

To sum up, Vučić is the man that absolutely no one is happy with. The population loathes him for his disastrous and injurious policies and sees through all his lies. His Western backers have good cause to be upset and impatient, while harbouring serious doubts about his further utility. Their problem, as well as Vučić’s, is how to neutralize popular discontentment, which so far has not shown the concerted strength required to overthrow the rotten system, but has nevertheless proved seriously disruptive. Most concerning of all, its potential for further radicalization, especially if the unstable tyrant again overreacts and creates a catalyst for popular mobilization, presently is a “known unknown,” but still very much on the minds of all concerned.

Vučić’s ultimate fate will be unpleasant, but it will most likely be decided by his obviously dissatisfied foreign sponsors, not by anything he does. A new team eager to prove its loyalty and plunder the little that is left of Serbia is waiting in the wings and the condemned, lonely man in the presidential palace knows it.

If Vučić’s fate is not settled in Serbia (which for him would be the most unpleasant option), he will have to look for a corner of this earth where his pestilential presence would still be tolerated and where he and the remnants of his criminal entourage might have access to the fruits of their immense plunder. Since deposed and no longer useful puppets of the globalist system, after being discarded, with remarkable regularity become global fugitives, finding a safe haven will be an incredibly complicated challenge.

That is why with all his current travails, the young scholar Dr Vladimir Mentus is in far better shape than Serbia’s pathetic Ozymandias, the “great” bumbler and nincompoop, Alexander Vučić. The bright young man at least has a future, and the prison time he can simply chalk up to life experience. Who knows, it may even result in a brilliant sociological dissertation.

Bahrain: A Police State Built on Intimidation and Torture

Source

By Sondos al-Assad

Bahrain: A Police State Built on Intimidation and Torture

Welcome to Bahrain, the cemetery of the living, the home of chambers of death, the kingdom of widespread impunity, police brutality, extrajudicial killings and repression.

Welcome to Bahrain, where the most gruesome arts of torture are heinously and systematically practiced by the security services, including the use of electro-shock devices, forced standing techniques, suspension in painful positions [while handcuffed and exposed to extreme cold or hot temperature], medical negligence, beatings, threats of rape or murder and sexual abuse, etc. in order to inflict permanent suffering on the peaceful prisoners of conscience.

Indeed, little has been done to bring justice to those who perpetrated acts of violence and torture against peaceful demonstrators, despite the BICI’s recommendations to persecute those responsible for torture. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry [BICI] was established, in July 2011, allegedly charged with investigating allegations of human rights abuses in connection with the government’s suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations.

”All persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence, have their convictions reviewed and sentences commuted or, as the case may be, outstanding charges against them dropped,” the BICI’s report recommended.

The authorities; however, have spared no efforts to investigate and prosecute security personnel and high-ranking officials who have involved in or administrated torture. Those include, for instance, Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Lt. Col. Mubarak Abdullah Bin Huwayl and Lt. Shaika Nura Al Khalifa, who were acquitted on all counts.

Prince Nasser, aka the Torture Prince of Bahrain, is the king’s son of the King, has tortured activists during the 2011 pro-democracy protests. Due to his immunity and the prevailing culture of impunity within the country, he has not been held accountable and continues to receive promotions and rewards rather than being imprisoned.

Bahrain’s security services have repeatedly resorted to torture for the apparent purpose of extracting confessions from human rights activists and political detainees. For instance, Maryam Al-Bardouli, Commander of the Isa Town Prison, has also assaulted many female political prisoners especial Zakia al Barbouri, the only remaining female prisoner of conscience.

Lawyer and legal adviser to SALAM human right organization Ibrahim Serhan recounts the severe torture he was subjected to in 2017, describing how he was stripped naked in front of other inmates as officials threatened to sexually torture him, a crime that frequently takes place during interrogation in Bahrain. This practice continues to take; however, many remain silent as they fear retribution or to be stigmatised.

Activists maintain that the international community and in particular the UK have played a central role in covering up torture in Bahrain. The University of Huddersfield, a UK-backed institution, enjoys a suspected multi-million-pound training contract with Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing, a notorious hub of torture

Leading Saudi Activist Dies in Detention: Amnesty International

Leading Saudi Activist Dies in Detention: Amnesty International

By Staff, Agencies

A leading activist serving an 11-year prison sentence has died in detention in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said, highlighting the kingdom’s human rights record.

Abdullah al-Hamid, 69, died after a stroke in his prison cell earlier this month, according to multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International.

“Dr. Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director at Amnesty.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state’s inhumane repression.”

“He, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place,” Maalouf added.

Hamid was a founding member of the rights group the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association [ACPRA] and was sentenced to prison in March 2013, the rights groups said.

He faced multiple charges, including “breaking allegiance” to the Saudi ruler, “inciting disorder” and seeking to disrupt state security, Amnesty explained.

Other ACPRA members have also been imprisoned in the past, including another co-founder, Mohammad al-Qahtani, who was jailed for 10 years in 2013, Amnesty said.

Saudi Arabia has long faced international criticism over its human rights record. That criticism has grown since Mohammed bin Salman was named crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne in June 2017.

The murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the increased repression of dissidents have overshadowed so-called efforts by the prince to modernize the economy and society.

Bahrain Political Prisoners Struggle with Coronavirus Risks as They’re Denied Freedom

Bahrain Political Prisoners Struggle with Coronavirus Risks as They’re Denied Freedom

Alwaght News and Analysis

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, governments introduced quarantine regimes and closed down crowded public places in a bid to reduce the fatalities.

Meanwhile, prisoners as a spectrum of citizens are at risk as they are kept in confined prison conditions. In prisons, where there is no way the social distancing can be implemented properly and in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization, people are more than in any other place at risk as the special conditions increase their vulnerability to the coronavirus.

These threats to the prisoners’ health motivated the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge the governments to release them.

Although large number of prisoners in many countries were freed to reduce the pandemic fatalities, the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain refused to take similar steps to the frustration of the rights groups and the families of the prisoners. The tiny Arab kingdom has so far confirmed 1,895 people tested positive for COVID-19 pandemic, as it said that 7 died of the disease.

Legal organizations and prominent political figures write a protest letter

The Bahraini regime’s failure to show commitment to the principles of human rights and show responsibility to the demands of the UN human rights commission to protect the prisoners aroused the ire of the political figures, NGOs, and rights organizations towards Manama’s repressive and stubborn approach.

On Sunday, 67 rights and legal organizations in a joint statement asked Bahrain’s officials to affirmatively respond to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and immediately free political prisoners. The statement said that the Bahraini government should put the release of the political prisoners as part of its agenda to fight the coronavirus as the prisons are among the places of high risk for those inside. In the densely populated detention centers it is difficult to meet the standards of the WHO that are designed to check the pandemic. Official reports suggest that prisons in Bahrain has the challenge of congestion.

In their statement, the rights organizations referred to the Bahraini security officials’ deprivation of the prisoners of treatment as a torture trick. The consequence of this action is the downfall of the levels of healthcare in the prisons to the lowest level. They warned that such a situation could result in a disaster.

Lynn Maalouf, the Amnesty International’s Middle Ease Research director, said: “Authorities must now speedily release those who never should have been in jail in the first place, namely all prisoners of conscience who remain detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and other human rights.”

Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society as well as rights activists Nazar al-Wadee, Nabil Rajab, and Naji Fatil are among the political prisoners whom the Amnesty International called for their immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Ahmad al-Wadee, the director of London-based Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is among those who over the past few days warned against the situation of the prisoners in Bahrain. He said: “coronavirus spreads in Bahrain’s overcrowded prisons would have disastrous consequences.

On April 14, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem, the spiritual leader of the Bahrain’s uprising, in a statement warned that the potential spread of the virus in the prisons rings the alerts for the lives of thousands of political prisoners. He called for an initiative to release this category of prisoners. “There is no excuse to keep these people in prison,” he asserted.

Hussain al-Daihi, the deputy secretary-general of Al-Wefaq, echoed Ayatollah Qassem’s statement, saying that the prisoners must be released for their lives to be saved as many governments in other countries did. Social media users inside and outside the small Gulf island kingdom launched a campaign calling for the political prisoners to be released.

Bad prison conditions and doubled challenges for security prisoners

The concerns about possible exploitation of the coronavirus crisis by Al Khalifa regime to build pressures on the political prisoners and protestors in the upcoming weeks and months and even intentional abandoning of healthcare and concealing the reality about the situation of prisons come while the hygiene and security conditions in the detention centers are already improper. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, there were reports about the outbreak of contagious diseases in the prisons. Jaw Prison as the biggest prison in the country and Dry Dock [Al-Hawdh al-Jaf] detention center from December through January witnessed the outbreak of Scabies infectious disease. About half of the prisoners of the two prisons were infected, reports said.

Over the past few days, some prisoners tried to leak part of the realities of the prison conditions to the outside world and media. Abdullah Habib Sawar, Reuters reported, is one of these prisoners who is behind the bars of a cell along with 14 inmates.

He told Reuters that congestion of political prisoners’ cells invites for worries about coronavirus spread. “All are afraid,” he further told the news agency.

According to the report, the political prisoners in Jaw Prison are held in cells that can accommodate only 8 people and are special for security prisoners. The report further said that Bahrain like other regional countries freed the risked prisoners. But security prisoners were not among the freed 1,500.

Despite pressures from the rights organizations, the Western governments that claim to be patrons to human rights kept silent regarding violation of rights of Bahraini political prisoners. On Tuesday, Trump had a phone conversation with King Hamad bi Isa Al Khalifa in which he lauded Manama’s measures to control the pandemic but did not raise the case of political prisoners. This promotes the notion that Bahrain’s regime continues to shrug off the criticism on the strength of political support from the West.

Amnesty International Calls on Saudi Authorities to Release Prisoner of Conscience Has Been in A Coma

Source

2020-04-19


Amnesty International called on The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately release Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who remains detained despite being in coma and in critical condition early April.

“It is heartbreakingly cruel that Dr Abdullah al-Hamid remains in detention, even while in a coma,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director. “Dr al-Hamid, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place. All those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.

The organization also called on the authorities to consider taking into account the immediate release of elderly prisoners, thoe with current health conditions, who are still at risk of contracting Covid-19, as well as all who are still awaiting trial.

In March 2012, Dr al-Hamid and Mohammad al-Qahtani were arrested and interrogated regarding their work with ACPRA and their peaceful activism. In March 2013, they were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively, on charges of “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, “questioning the integrity of officials”, “seeking to disrupt security and inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations”, and “instigating international organizations against the Kingdom”.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, a prominent human rights activist, is serving a 11-year prison sentence for his peaceful activity and suffering from high blood pressure. The doctor told him, three months ago, that he needed to have heart surgery in the coming months, and prison authorities have threatened him that if he is told His family, on his health, will cut his contact with his family, and among the prisoners of conscience still in detention in the Kingdom are many prominent women’s rights activists, including Lujain al-Hathloul.

It is reported that conditions in many of Saudi Arabia’s overcrowded prisons, like its counterpart in Bahrain, greatly increase the risk of the spread of Covid-19 virus. Amnesty International has previously expressed concern about the authorities’ failure to provide adequate medical care in the country’s prisons.

Bahrain the Merciless Kingdom: Journalist in Solitary Confinement after Reporting on COVID-19 Danger

Bahrain the Merciless Kingdom: Journalist in Solitary Confinement after Reporting on COVID-19 Danger

By Staff, Agencies

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the Bahraini authorities to immediately stop retaliating against imprisoned journalist Mahmoud al-Jaziri for reporting on conditions inside Bahraini prisons and should free all journalists imprisoned for their work,.

Al-Jaziri, who according to CPJ research has been imprisoned since December 2015 and is serving a 15-year prison sentence on charges of belonging to a terrorist group, recorded an audio clip that was posted on dissident-run channel Bahrain Today3 on YouTube on April 7. During the clip, al-Jaziri disputed reports that Bahraini authorities had taken measures to protect prisoners from the spread of COVID-19 and that in-person family visits for prisoners have been replaced by video calls, according to a CPJ review of the clip.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the independent, London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, told CPJ via email that al-Jaziri was moved to solitary confinement the next day, citing phone calls with two different inmates at Jaw Prison. Alwadaei told CPJ that he confirmed the voice on the audio clip was al-Jaziri, but CPJ is withholding the details in order to protect the security of his source.

In his audio clip, al-Jaziri referred to an April 6 interview with Mariah Khoury, president of the Bahrain Institute for Human Rights, a government body that was posted to the Bahraini Interior Ministry’s YouTube channel. The interview detailed the measures taken to protect prisoners and showed footage purportedly from Jaw Prison, where according to CPJ research al-Jaziri and several other imprisoned journalists are held. In his recording, al-Jaziri describes the segment as an “acting performance” and says that there is no system for video calls in place, adding that the prisons remain overcrowded and that authorities have not undertaken health and sanitation measures in response to COVID-19. On April 9, Reuters also reported that inmates in the prison were afraid of contracting the virus due to the lack of access to medical care and protective gear inside the facility, as well as overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

“Not only is Mahmoud al-Jaziri at risk from COVID-19 in Jaw Prison, but now he’s also being punished for pushing back on the official narrative,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Instead of retaliating in a petty manner against journalists, Bahraini authorities should be releasing Mahmoud al-Jaziri and all other imprisoned journalists right now.”

Last week, CPJ wrote an open letter to world leaders urging them to immediately release all journalists behind bars, as freedom has become a matter of life and death amid the coronavirus pandemic. Imprisoned journalists have no control over their surroundings, cannot choose to isolate, and are often denied necessary medical care.

Earlier this week, CPJ signed on to a joint letter calling on Bahraini authorities to free all journalists and other prisoners of conscience, citing poor conditions and lack of access to medical care in Jaw Prison and other facilities and in light of the increased danger posed by the spread of COVID-19.

Related

In Overcrowded Cells, Bahrain’s Political Prisoners Suffer New Calamity amid Covid-19

In Overcrowded Cells, Bahrain’s Political Prisoners Suffer New Calamity amid Covid-19

By Staff, Agencies

When jailed Bahraini activist Abdullah Habeeb Swar developed a bad cough that lasted several days, his 14 cell mates feared he might have contracted the coronavirus and would spread it through their overcrowded wing.

They share a cell designed to sleep eight in one of three wings in Manama’s Jaw prison reserved for detainees sentenced on security-related charges.

“You can imagine how scared they were,” Swar told Reuters by telephone, referring to last month’s coughing fits.

He is one of hundreds of opposition politicians, activists, journalists and human rights defenders sentenced in mass trials. Detained in 2019 after six years in hiding and serving a 40-year term, Swar said he was not seen by a doctor.

US-allied Bahrain has come under pressure from human rights organizations over prison conditions including overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of medical care.

Rights groups including Amnesty International last week jointly called Bahraini authorities to release those who “peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression”, especially elderly prisoners or those with existing health conditions.

“The authorities don’t like to be seen to bend to political pressure,” said Marc Owen Jones of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

Mass trials became commonplace in Bahrain – home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet – after an uprising in 2011.

Rights Groups Urge Releasing Bahrain’s Imprisoned Defenders, Opposition Activists

Rights Groups Urge Releasing Bahrain’s Imprisoned Defenders, Opposition Activists

By Staff, HRW

Amid the global threat posed by COVID-19, Bahraini authorities should release human rights defenders, opposition activists, journalists, and all others imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, a coalition of 19 rights groups, including Human Rights Watch [HRW], said on Monday.

On March 17, 2020, Bahrain completed the release of 1,486 prisoners, 901 of whom received royal pardons on “humanitarian grounds.”

The remaining 585 were given non-custodial sentences. While this is a positive step, the releases so far have excluded opposition leaders, activists, journalists, and human rights defenders – many of whom are older and/or suffer from underlying medical conditions. Such prisoners are at high risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19, and thus ought to be prioritized for release.

“Bahrain’s significant release of prisoners is certainly a welcome relief as concerns around the spread of COVID-19 continue to rise. Authorities must now speedily release those who never should have been in jail in the first place, namely all prisoners of conscience who remain detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful expression”, said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of research. “We also urge the authorities to step up measures to ensure full respect for the human rights of all those deprived of their liberty.”

Opposition leaders imprisoned for their roles in the 2011 protest movement remain behind bars. These include Hassan Mushaima, the head of the unlicensed opposition group Al-Haq; Abdulwahab Hussain, an opposition leader; Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, a prominent human rights defender; and Dr. Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, the spokesman for Al-Haq.

Other prominent opposition figures, including Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of the dissolved Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society [Al-Wefaq], also remain imprisoned. Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, who was deemed arbitrarily detained by the United Nations in “reprisal” for the activism of his brother-in-law, the exiled activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, and human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Naji Fateel have not been released either. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights [BCHR] has documented that a total of 394 detainees of the 1,486 released were imprisoned on political charges. According to Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, another Bahraini nongovernmental group, 57 of the 901 prisoners who received a royal pardon were imprisoned for their political activities, while the rest were given non-custodial sentences. Since the Bahraini government has not made available any information on the charges for which those ordered released had been convicted, the exact figures cannot be verified. However, it is clear that people imprisoned for nonviolent political activity are in the minority of those released.

Scores of prisoners convicted following unfair trials under Bahrain’s overly broad counterterrorism law have been overlooked and denied early release or alternative penalties, even though other inmates serving considerably longer sentences were freed. This includes Zakiya Al Barboori and Ali Al Hajee, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [BIRD).

Conditions in Bahrain’s overcrowded prisons compound the risk of COVID-19 spreading. The lack of adequate sanitation led to a scabies outbreak in Jaw Prison – Bahrain’s largest prison – and the Dry Dock Detention Center in December 2019 and January 2020. Almost half of the Dry Dock Detention Center’s prison population was infected. In 2016, a governmental Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission found buildings at Jaw Prison to suffer from “bad hygiene,” “insect infestation,” and “broken toilets.”

Furthermore, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN have expressed their concern over the authorities’ persistent failure to provide adequate medical care in Bahrain’s prisons. This has endangered the health of some unjustly imprisoned persons with chronic medical conditions, such as Hassan Mushaima and Dr. Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, who may now be at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.

States have an obligation to ensure medical care for all those in their custody at least equivalent to that available to the general population and must not deny or limit detainees’ equal access to preventive, curative, or palliative health care. Given that conditions in detention centers pose a heightened public health risk to the spread of COVID-19, and the persistent failure to provide an adequate level of care to those in their custody, there are grave concerns about whether prison authorities could effectively control the spread of COVID-19 and care for prisoners if there is an outbreak inside Bahrain’s prisons.

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE PLANS TO BECOME KING BEFORE NOVEMBER G20 SUMMIT

Mohammed bin Salman launched purge against his uncle and others to clear path to becoming king ahead of gathering in Riyadh

By David Hearst

Published date: 8 March 2020 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a purge against his chief royal rival, his uncle Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, because he intends to become king before the G20 summit in Riyadh in November, sources briefed about the plans have told Middle East Eye.

Bin Salman, known as MBS, will not wait for his father King Salman to die because his father’s presence gives legitimacy to the son, and he wants to use the summit in November as the stage for his accession to the throne. 

Instead, MBS will force his father, who suffers from dementia but is in otherwise good health, to abdicate, the sources said. 

This will finish the job started when MBS ousted his elder cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from the position of crown prince, the sources said.

“He wants to be sure while his father is there, he becomes the king,” one source said. Over the weekend pictures were released of King Salman greeting ambassadors, to disprove rumours sparked by the purge that the king had died. Sources at the King Faisal Hospital dedicated to the care of members of the royal family also dispelled those rumours.

Before his arrest on Friday, Prince Ahmed, the king’s younger full brother, was given one last chance, after years of public opposition, to come aboard the MBS project, and he refused, the sources said.

“There was pressure on Ahmed to give his full support to MBS. He met with the king, and Salman and others in the court used polite words to encourage him to back his son,” a second source said.

“Ahmed made it clear he would not support this project. He did not give his word. Ahmed told the king he himself was not keen to become king but would look to others to come forward.”

Summons from the king

Meanwhile, more details emerged about the circumstances of Ahmed’s arrest.

According to the sources, Ahmed was not planning a coup before his arrest on Friday morning, as was claimed in one briefing given to Reuters, primarily because the prince had no power to make such a move. 

“Prince Ahmed would have openly objected to his nephew’s accession, as a member of the Allegiance Council, if the king dies and the question of accession to the throne comes formally before it,” the source said.

“He would have clearly said no. But there was no attempted coup.”

The Allegiance Council, or Bayaa, is the body which still nominally has to approve MBS’s accession to the throne.

What is the Beya?

The source said Ahmed had just returned from a falconry hunting trip abroad and had given a reception for his close circle on Thursday night.

Ahmed was passed a message that the king wanted to see him on Friday morning. This was about another arrested prince, Faisal bin Abdelrahman, whose case Ahmed had raised with Salman some weeks ago.

On Friday morning, Prince Ahmed went to the royal palace with his security detail. He was arrested the moment he entered the king’s compound.

“He did not see the king. It was total betrayal,” the source said. According to him, a second member of the Allegiance Council was also arrested in the purge.

Trump concerns

Asked why this purge was launched now, the sources cited external and internal reasons.

They said MBS was becoming concerned about the possibility that Donald Trump would not secure a second term of office as US president. 

All the presidential candidates remaining in the Democratic race are declared critics of the crown prince and had openly condemned him for allegedly ordering the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have consistently refused to hold the crown prince accountable for the murder of Khashoggi and blocked calls for a criminal investigation by the FBI or the UN. 

In his last interview on the subject published in June last year, Trump said the Khashoggi murder “really didn’t come up” in the discussions he held with MBS.

Trump said that Iran had killed more people, and he pointed to Saudi spending on US weapons and other goods.

“They spend $400bn to $450bn over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” Trump told NBC News. 

“And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Secondly, the sources claimed that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, who has mentored MBS and introduced him to the Trump clan before he became president, was also in on the scheme.

Hamed al Mazroui, a well-known blogger with links to MBZ, whose tweets were among the first to break the news of the purge in the Ritz Carlton in November 2017 and the 2017 start to the siege of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and others, tweeted two words in Arabic before the latest arrests were widely known. They translate as “Check mate”.

“MbZ is instrumental in each move his protege makes. The more mistakes MBS makes and the greater the instability he causes, the greater the leverage bin Zayed has over the affairs of Saudi,” the source said.

Oil fears

Internally, MBS’s reforms are not going well. 

The two latest hitches to his reform plan are the rapid fall in the price of oil, to below the level at which the state budget needs for its income, and his increasing unpopularity in the Muslim world, months before the annual Hajj is due to start.Saudis plan crude oil output increase, begin price war: Report

Held back by curbs on oil output negotiated by Opec, Saudi Arabia’s economy expanded just 0.3 percent in 2019, down from 2.4 percent a year earlier and short of the government’s forecast of 0.4 percent.

MBS’s economic woes deepened on Sunday, when the Saudi stock market dived by 8.3 percent, the lowest closing since November 2017, when he launched the first round of purges.

Shares in Saudi Aramco dropped below their IPO price of 32 riyals ($8.50) for the first time, losing 9.1 percent to 30 riyals.

‘Delicate generational succession’

Controversy has also stalked MBS’s decision to effectively close the borders of the kingdom to most visitors and all Umrah pilgrims, because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Critics have noted that the crown prince allowed a big concert, entitled “Persian Night,” to go ahead as part of the Tanturah Winter festival on 5 March.

All these factors, sources say, convinced MBS to strike now against the last remaining hurdles in the way of his accession to the throne.

“This purge is different from the first one in 2017. Then, MBS was at the height of his popularity as a young and bold reformer. He sold the purge as an anti-corruption campaign, and it was popular even with journalists like Khashoggi. This purge comes after a series of scandals. It’s as if MBS is trying to evade one scandal by moving on to an even bigger one,” another high placed Saudi critic said.

Justifying the arrests, Ali Shihabi, a Saudi commentator in Washington and a loyal supporter of the regime, appeared to confirm in his tweets that this was about a generational succession.

He wrote: “On Saudi: what people must appreciate is that the Royal family has had to go through a very delicate generational succession (that had been a cloud hanging over the country for over a decade given the large number of princes who were technically eligible to succeed)…

” … and that no formula existed to sort that issue out in [a] fashion that could please everybody. What has happened since King Salman’s succession is that he made his choice clear and that inevitably created a lot of disenfranchised royals some who were naturally displeased…”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Related Articles

Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Bin Salman’s Latest Arrests Expose Weakness at Heart of Power

By Madawi al-Rasheed – Middle East Eye

The silence of the Saudi royal palace over the reported arrest of senior princes Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Mohammed bin Nayef, among others, is deafening.

Yet, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sudden and bold move is telling.

The arrest of such high-ranking princes without portfolio reveals the shaky ground on which the young prince’s future rests.

Shaky grounds

In its modern history, Saudi Arabia swiftly resolved succession disputes when Crown Prince Faisal challenged the authority of King Saud in the early 1960s. But at the time Faisal had the backing of almost all the royal household, with the exception of Saud and his sons.

Faisal quickly isolated Saud and was granted a fatwa from the religious scholars to oust him.

Today, Mohammed bin Salman seems to have only the support of his old father while other members of the royal household, especially those destined to become kings, feel isolated, humiliated and now, under arrest. 

The Saudi crown prince has not only alienated his own senior uncle Ahmed, and cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, but also the very establishment that would have backed the bold arrest of his own kin, namely the religious establishment. He cannot be assured of the loyalty of senior royalty, religious scholars, and important sections of Saudi society. The cheering crowds at his newly introduced festivals, concerts and boxing matches conceal a deepening crisis in the House of Saud.

A deepening crisis

The young prince lives in fear and isolation. His so-called top-down revolution is stumbling under the pressure of global recession that sent oil prices and local Saudi stock market shares into a slide.

In the past, austerity due to falling oil revenues was a passing stumbling block that was overcome quickly when the kingdom in previous years dealt with a series of oil crises and recessions.

But the current crisis is totally different. It is political rather than economic. King Salman may not be around long enough to cast the shadow of support and extract loyalty from disgruntled princes for his son. The son himself started his rule as the center of power with new unexpected strategies that are now insufficient to guarantee a smooth succession after the king dies.

The abrupt arrest of his own uncle and senior cousins is a risky strategy that will haunt him throughout his future political career. Moreover, the reputation of the kingdom as a country blessed by the ability of the royals to maintain consensus and smooth succession is shattered beyond repair.

The crown prince is compelled once again to use force against his royal rivals of the type witnessed in November 2017, when more than a dozen influential princes were arrested and sent to the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. This was justified as an anti-corruption move to rid Saudi Arabia of endemic graft.

The descendants of the late King Abdullah, mainly Prince Miteb, the head of the Saudi National Guard at the time, were humiliated and sidelined. Mohammed bin Salman made sure that such a senior rival was deprived of a military base with which he could potentially stage a coup against the rising son king.

The Nayef threat

The crown prince hopes to eliminate the threat of yet another important prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who for a long time was considered to have managed domestic affairs with an iron fist.

The pervasive intelligence and security networks that he created when he was the central figure in the Ministry of Interior still haunt the current crown prince even after bin Nayef was deprived of all his official government posts. The crown prince fears the very draconian measures that his cousin took to crush potential opposition could yet be deployed against him.

Mohammed bin Nayef guaranteed the security of the throne in preparation for him becoming king. But he lived to see his young cousin, Mohammed, benefiting from all the surveillance and tough security he enforced in the kingdom. He was ungratefully rewarded by being abruptly sacked by the king, and now he is reportedly arrested.

News of his humiliation has travelled around the globe while the royal palace remains silent over his whereabouts.

The Al-Nayef lineage within the royal household is now facing its last days and will only be remembered as a fallen tower that kept Saudis fearful for their life under his regime, when they had been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and unjustified disappearances at the hands of Nayef senior, and his son Mohammed. 

A pre-emptive strike

Prince Ahmed, the remaining eligible brother of King Salman who could potentially succeed him, is also reported to be among the princes arrested on 7 March. He was probably seized not because of his previous military or security credentials – he had none throughout his short-lived career in government.

His arrest rather was a pre-emptive strike to mitigate against the senior prince becoming a focal symbolic character around which other disgruntled princes might gather.

The potential of Prince Ahmed becoming such a figure reminds us of the ten years of King Abdullah’s reign when he became the strong king who managed to counter the threats from Salman, Nayef and Sultan bin Abdulaziz at the time.

Abdullah represented a symbol for many princes who resented the monopoly of power by these three most important figures in Saudi politics. Ahmed had already expressed reservations over the policies of the new king and his son, for example, over the war on Yemen in 2015.

But since then, after his return to Saudi Arabia, he maintained his silence. Other marginalized princes might have looked to Ahmed to save them from sinking into historical oblivion when the crown prince eventually becomes king.

Royal drama

King Salman could have made Ahmed crown prince after his son’s many scandals and mismanagement of the political affairs and foreign relations of the kingdom, above all the scandal over Jamal Khashoggi’s death in 2018.

But the king missed an opportunity and now the arrest of Prince Ahmed removes a symbolic figure who is potentially capable of restoring the semblance of continuity and respectability in the royal household.

Once a secure monarchy with powerful princes who successfully contained all sorts of political, economic and security threats, Saudi Arabia is now plagued by uncertainty and dangers. 

In the process of consolidating the Al Saud’s grip on power, the royals have deprived all Saudis of the right to live in an open society with political institutions that can guarantee the survival of the kingdom and the participation of its citizens in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, Saudis have been turned into spectators watching the country’s royal drama unfold.

Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar

Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar
Sheikh Ali Salman,

By Sondoss Al-Asaad

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq opposition group, embarks on his fifth-year journey of oppression and persecution as a prisoner of conscience, since 2014.

The top opposition leader is unfairly being held in custody merely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion and for demanding democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Those demands; however, are seen by Manama as crimes of ”inciting hatred and insulting public institutions.”

In November 2018, the Bahraini High Criminal Court of Appeal overturned an acquittal granted to him and blatantly sentenced the leader, along with fellow opposition leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and former MP Ali al-Aswad, to life in prison, accusing them of scheming with the state of Qatar “to overthrow the regime.”

Responding to the arbitrary verdict, Amnesty International commented that it ”a travesty of justice” that demonstrates the Bahraini government’s ”relentless efforts to silence any form of dissent.”

For its part, Al-Wefaq political bloc, which Sheikh Ali Salman leads, slammed the verdict saying it is “unacceptable and provocative” ruling and would worsen the political crisis.

Remarkably, the espionage accusation just arose as an issue in the aftermath of the diplomatic row with the Qatari regime, in 2017, as it dates back to a 2011 clip of a phone call aimed to mediate between the Bahraini government and opposition parties then.

Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry, aka BICI’s well-known report, cites opposition sources suggesting that Qatar, then, could act as the sponsor of a proposed US initiative, and which was approved by the opposition but rejected by the government.

The tiny Gulf archipelago has been wracked by unrest, since February 2011, when thousands of citizens kicked off to the streets of Manama demanding justice, democracy and equal opportunities.

Nevertheless, the peaceful demonstrators were violently suppressed, with the assistance of neighboring countries’ troops, especially from Saudi Arabia.

Ever since assembly has been outlawed, opposition groups have been dissolved and dissents have been either jailed, denaturalized or exiled.

The BICI, also known locally as the Bassiouni Commission, was established by the King of Bahrain, tasked with looking into the incidents that occurred during the 2011 unrest.

In November 2011, the commission released a detailed report, which criticizes Bahrain’s security forces for using ”excessive manner that was, on many occasions, unnecessary, disproportionate, and indiscriminate” and which “could not have happened without the knowledge of higher echelons of the command structure.”

The BICI’s report further confirms the government’s use of systematic torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse on detainees, as well as other human rights violations.

Sheikh Salman, along with hundreds of human rights advocates, top opposition leaders and prisoners of conscience, is currently held in the notorious Jaw Prison, known for its inhumane and unsanitary environment that infringes international detention standards.

After five years of arbitrary detention, to which the international community appallingly turns blind eyes and deaf ears, it is time that the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release the peaceful leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, who is obviously convicted on politically-motivated charges.

كيف تلقف المجتمع البحريني والدولي خطوة إعتقال الأمين العام للوفاق؟
تظاهرة تضامنية مع زعيم المعارضة الشيخ علي سلمان في الذكرى الخامسة لاعتقاله
محاكمة زعيم المعارضة تحت المجهر القانوني.. المخالفات جسيمة
Claims of false evidence in case against Bahraini opposition figure

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva Bartlett sat down with recently released Ukrainian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky. Vyshinsky endured 15 months of appalling conditions in a Ukrainian prison after being falsely accused of treason.

October 28th, 2019

Video

In November 2018, I became aware of the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, a Ukrainian-Russian journalist and editor imprisoned in Ukraine without trial since May 2018, accused of high treason.

Soon after, I interviewed Vyshinsky via email. He described his arrest and the accusations against him as politically-motivated, “an attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to bolster the declining popularity of [then] President [Petro] Poroshenko in this election year.” 

Vyshinsky noted that his arrest was advancing the incessant anti-Russian hysteria now prevalent among Ukrainian authorities, as he holds dual Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. He noted that the charges against him, which pertain to a number of articles he published in 2014 (none of them authored by Vyshinsky), became of interest to Ukrainian authorities and intelligence services four years after they were published. To Vyshinsky, this supports the notion that neither the articles nor their editor were a security threat to Ukraine, instead, he says, they were a political card to be played.

In early 2019, I traveled to Kiev to interview Vyshinsky’s defense lawyer Andriy Domansky about the logistic obstacles of his client’s case. Domansky viewed the Vyshinsky case as politically motivated and expressed concern that he could himself become a target of Ukraine’s secret service for his role in defending his client, an innocent man.

Domansky told me at the time,

The Vyshinsky case is key in demonstrating the presence of political persecution of journalists in Ukraine. As a legal expert, I believe justice is still possible in Ukraine and I will do everything possible to prove Kirill Vyshinsky’s innocence.”

To the surprise of those following the case against Vyshinsky, in late August 2019 he was released with little fanfare after serving more than 400 days in a Ukrainian prison but still faces all of the charges brought against him by the Ukrainian government and is “obliged to appear in court or give testimony to investigators if they deemed it necessary.”

By early September, Kirill Vyshinsky was on a plane to Moscow. Despite never being tried or officially convicted, he found himself the subject of a prisoner exchange between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

A banner reading “Freedom to Kirill Vyshinsky” is held at a June 16, 2019 rally in Moscow. Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

I interviewed Vyshinsky in Moscow in late September. He told me about his harrowing ordeal, the Ukrainian detention system, other persecuted journalists, and what lies ahead for him.

He also touched on the inhumane conditions he experienced in Ukrainian prisons. He noted that a pretrial detention center as we know it in Western nations is a very different entity in Ukraine and that Ukrainian prisons were so over-crowded that it was common for inmates to sleep in three shifts in order to allow enough standing room for inmates crammed into a cell.

 

Ukrainian prisons like a “concentration camp”

Aleksey Zhuravko, a Ukrainian deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of V and VI convocations recently published photos taken inside of an Odessa pretrial detention center showing utterly unsanitary and appalling conditions. Zhuravko noted, “I am shocked at what was seen. It is a concentration camp. It is a hotbed of diseases.”

Another Ukrainian journalist, Pavel Volkov, was subjected to the same types of accusations lobbed against Vyshinsky. Volkov spent over a year in the same pretrial detention center as Vyshinsky. He was arrested on September 27, 2017, after Ukrainian authorities carried out searches of his wife and mother’s apartments without the presence of his lawyer and with what he says, was a false witness.

Volkov spent more than a year in a pretrial detention center on charges of “infringing on territorial integrity with a group of people” and “miscellaneous accessory to terrorism.” On March 27, 2019, he was fully acquitted by a Ukrainian court.

Volkov shared his thoughts on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine, saying:

The leaders of the 2014 Euromaidan movement, who subsequently occupied the largest positions in the country’s leadership, repeatedly stated that collaborators from World War II who participated in the mass extermination of Jews, Russians, and Poles are true heroes in Ukraine, and that the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are inferior people who need to be either forcibly re-educated or destroyed.

They also believe that anyone who wants peace with the Russian Federation, and who believes that the Russian language (the native language for over sixty percent of Ukraine’s population) should be the second state language, is the enemy of Ukraine.

These notions formed the basis of the new criminal law, designed to persecute politicians, public figures, journalists, and ordinary citizens who disagree with the above.

Since 2014, security services have arrested hundreds of people on charges of state treason; infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine; and assisting terrorism for criticizing the current government in the streets or on the Internet.

People have been in prison for years without a conviction. And these are not only the journalists included in the ‘Vyshinsky list’.

Activists from Odessa, Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, have spent more than five years in jail just for laying flowers at a memorial to the liberators of Nikolaev [Ukrainian city] from Nazi invaders.

Sergeyev and Gorban, taxi drivers, have spent two and a half years in a pretrial detention center because they transported pensioners from Donetsk to Ukraine-controlled territory so that they could receive their legal pension.

The entrepreneur Andrey Tatarintsev has spent two years in prison for providing humanitarian assistance to a children’s hospital in the territory of the Lugansk region not controlled by Ukraine.

Farmer Nikolay Butrimenko received eight years of imprisonment for paying tax to the Donetsk People’s Republic for his land located in that territory.

The 85-year-old scientist and engineer Mekhti Logunov was given twelve years because he agreed to build a waste recycling plant with Russian investors. The list is endless.

People often incriminate themselves while being tortured or under the threat of their relatives being punished, and such confessions are accepted by the courts, despite the fact that lawyers initiate criminal proceedings against the security services involved in the torture. These cases are not being investigated.

The only mitigation that has happened in this direction after the change of government was the abolition of the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code stating that no other measure of restraint other than detention can be applied to persons suspected of committing crimes against the state.

This allowed some defendants to leave prison on bail, but not a single politically-motivated case has yet been closed. Moreover, arrests are ongoing.

The only acquittal to date from the so-called journalistic cases on freedom of speech is mine. However, it is still being contested by the prosecutor’s office in the Supreme Court.

Ninety-nine percent of the media continue to call all these people ‘terrorists’, ‘separatists’, and ‘enemies of the people’, even though almost none of them have yet received a verdict in court.”

Volkov’s words lay bare the true nature of the allegations made against Kirill Vyshinsky as well as the countless other journalists and citizens of Ukraine that have fallen victim to the heavy hand of Ukrainian authorities.

Feature photo | Kirill Vyshinsky poses while covering Ukraine’s Maidan protests in 2014. Photo | Zenit-ka.ru

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza.

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

By Lucilla Berwick and Bridget Quitter, Ms. Magazine 

In 2017, Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh found herself sitting in a dark room before a pair of chain smoking officers from Bahrain’s National Security Agency. “No one is going to hear you in this place,” sneered one of the men, who introduced himself as ‘the torturer.’ “No one can protect you here, not the Human Rights Council or any other organization. You know we have a green light from Trump, right?”

It had been a brutal year in the tiny island of Bahrain, the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet and a key American ally in the Arab Gulf. The government, led by the AlKhalifa monarchy, had begun a severe and ongoing crackdown, which saw all political opposition groups and independent media forcibly dissolved and thousands incarcerated on political charges, amid accusations of rampant torture and due process violations. Ebtisam had recently returned from the UN in Geneva, where she spoke out about Bahrain’s repression.

With her arrest and torture, the government was sending a message: this would not be tolerated.

Women like Ebtisam have long played a central, albeit overlooked, role in Bahrain’s opposition movement. As the government increasingly targeted women for their opinions or those of their relatives, many began to come forward. Our organizations, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, have worked with nine women to share their stories. The resulting report, Breaking the Silence, traces the path of these women – from their arrests, through their interrogations and trials, to their detention at Isa Town Detention Centre, Bahrain’s only women’s prison. We uncovered horrific patterns of abuse, from sham trials to torture and sexual violence.

We encountered considerable obstacles to our work from the outset. The Bahraini state is highly resistant to scrutiny, making it virtually impossible to visit the country for research. UN Special Rapporteurs have not been permitted entry since 2006, while human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been denied access since 2015. However, through regular phone calls with the imprisoned women and their families, as well as analysis of court rulings and medical reports and comments from psychologists and legal experts, we pieced together a coherent picture of their experiences.

As we assembled their stories, the systematic nature of government abuses became clear. During brutal interrogations, the women experienced extreme violence, ranging from threats of rape or death to beatings, sexual assault and witnessing the torture of relatives. To end these abuses, many agreed to sign pre-written confessions, later used by Bahrain’s widely condemned judiciary to convict them. When they attempted to raise their ill-treatment in court, they were dismissed by judges.

Once sentenced, the women were singled out for mistreatment at Isa Town prison due to their political status, as is common across the Bahraini prison system. They reported punitive measures, including restrictions on family visits, religious discrimination, physical assault and medical negligence. Two of the women who remain in prison today, Medina Ali and Hajer Mansoor, have only seen their children once over the past year – a visit that was granted only after significant international pressure.

The legacies of the women’s abuse affect them to this day. Ebtisam reported she can no longer sleep in the dark or tolerate the smell of cigarettes, both of which immediately transport her back to the smoky room where she was tortured. Others reported psychological trauma in their young children related to their prolonged separation. The stigma attached to incarceration also makes returning to society difficult: After being released following an international campaign against her unlawful conviction, Najah Yusuf was fired by her employer who questioned her integrity due to her criminal record.

“Sometimes I speak normally about my ordeal,” Yusuf told us, “but the truth is that I am bleeding from within. It’s painful, and I have no idea when all of this is going to end.”

While abuses in Bahrain may seem distant, the US exerts a huge influence on the country, and American policy has actively contributed to the crackdown. Since Trump’s election, Obama-era human rights conditions on arms sales have been removed and the State Department has approved an unprecedented $8.5 billion worth of arms sales, upgrades, services and training to the country. Despite evidence that some of this funding has gone directly to bodies implicated in the abuse of the women we interviewed, the US places no human rights conditions on its substantial investment in Bahrain.

Trump seemingly gave the “green light” to Bahrain’s crackdown during a state visit in May 2017, where he promised an end to the “strain” his predecessor had placed on US-Bahrain relations. Two days later, Bahraini police opened fire on peaceful protests in the village of Diraz, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as among the “deadliest” operations since Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising was crushed in 2011. The conservative shift in American domestic policy has also encouraged Bahrain’s rights abuses: days after the White House announced the resumption of federal executions in July 2019, Bahrain executed two torture victims amid international outcry; when asked for comment ahead of the executions, the Bahraini Embassy in Washington, DC explicitly referenced the US decision.

Trump’s barely-concealed enthusiasm for authoritarianism is bolstering a climate of impunity in the region. In Bahrain, this means abusers are free to operate without fear of consequences. When Trump received Bahrain’s Crown Prince to discuss arms deals last month, he made the message very clear: keep buying arms, and we will stay silent on rights abuses.

For the women we worked with, the knowledge that they could be seized again at any point is among the most terrifying aspects of their entire experience. It is time for Congress to make clear that these violations cannot be tolerated.

These nine women have broken the silence. Now it is up to us to raise our voices and make sure that their efforts are not in vain.

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

By Latifa al-Husseini

Beirut – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is continuing his clampdown on every voice of dissent. It makes no difference whether power lies in his hands or those of his father, King Salman. He changed, deposed and imprisoned whoever he wanted. Things are done according to his will. He kills, buys or sells. He exercises control over whatever he wants. There is no obstacle blocking his way. Bin Salman’s policy of tyranny is evident across all of the kingdom’s internal matters. His behavior does not recognize the rights, opinions and demands of others. And for that reason, he believed there is simply no need for anyone to speak up. Therefore, the best solution is to silence and liquidate them.

Arrests and executions on the rise

When it comes to basic freedoms in the Kingdom, the situation is only getting more complicated. Activists have long complained of harassment and persecution. But the reign of Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which began four years ago, witnessed a sharp rise in the percentage of executions and unfair trials of prisoners of conscience, religious clerics and those taking part in peaceful movements. This is contrary to Bin Salman’s claims of reform that he made after the overthrow of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2017.

This year alone, there have been 164 executions so far, and arbitrary arrests have exceeded dozens. The scale of these executions suggests that there is no decline in unfair liquidations. In 2016, the Kingdom executed 153 citizens who were denied fair trials. In 2017, more than 100 detainees were executed, and hundreds of clerics, academics and writers were jailed. In 2018, authorities arrested and tortured dozens of female and other human rights activists.

Organized crimes are committed on the orders of the higher-ups. In 2015, these officials opened the doors of employment for those wishing to join its team of executioners. The security services report directly to the crown prince’s office. At the forefront of the security services is the State Security, which has been charged with arrest campaigns against political, social, and human rights activists from different currents in addition to the princes belonging to the ruling family who may pose a potential threat to Bin Salman. Also, in the crosshairs are tribal elders and businessmen who have had their significant wealth confiscated by the authorities.

In the absence of international accountability, Bin Salman’s apparatuses are moving towards more repression and tyranny. Information from within the Kingdom reflects a dark atmosphere. There are no resolutions, but rather a deepening crisis.

A prominent Saudi lawyer, Taha al-Hajji, spoke to Al-Ahed News Website about the very poor human rights situation, which appears to lack even the slightest glimmer of hope. Al-Hajji says that the Saudi judiciary usually does not announce its intention to execute prisoners. Instead it accumulates the number of prisoners it plans to put to death and then carries out mass executions. These often coincide with political developments in the region, especially those concerning Iran.

Indications that new executions are imminent & those most at risk

In light of recent reports that the authorities are preparing to execute a number of detainees, al-Hajji points to heightened activity on the part of the judiciary in the past weeks. It is speeding up trials and rushing hearings. Whereas before they were only held every two months. This indicates that authorities are striving to achieve a goal, especially since the Saudi judiciary has never held back-to-back hearings in this manner.

Al-Hajji’s remarks back reports circulating about sessions held by the specialized criminal court in the past two weeks for a number of preachers, most notably Salman Al-Odah and Safar Al-Hawali. Al-Hajji’s hypothesis is that the Saudi regime is preparing for a new batch of mass executions. He points to a long list of political prisoners and explains that their conditions vary judicially. Some are appearing before the appeals court and others before the Supreme Court. There are some detainees whose cases are still new, and no judgment has been issued. However, the prosecution is requesting the death penalty (it submits its application to the court and the court then decides).

According to al-Hajji’s data, the number of death sentences in Saudi Arabia is much higher than published. He warns that the detainees most at risk of execution are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Daoud al-Marhoun, who face old sentences that came into force but were stopped due to international pressure.

Mock trials and violations of prisoners’ rights

Those who keep up with the human rights situation in the Kingdom would notice that the detainees who appear in court are not granted fair trials, and that the judiciary does not listen to them or their representatives. Due to his experience with the Al-Saud courts for many years, Al-Hajji asserts that it is difficult to figure out who is being sentenced to death. The authorities make these rulings public through state-run media, which announces that death sentences were handed down, but they do not name the defendants.

However, their common denominator is that they were all accused of crimes stemming from participation in the political movement.

Al-Hajji, who left the kingdom after getting fed-up of the Saudi judiciary’s persecution of prisoners, explains that some judgments are issued before the indictment is made, especially when it comes to detainees who participated in demonstrations and what the authorities consider inciting public opinion against the regime.

“The trials of political detainees take place in the specialized criminal court, which is dedicated to terrorism and state security cases. This gives a clear picture of how the regime treats the peaceful demonstrator,” he adds.

According to al-Hajji, the features of the mock trials resemble those of real ones: an accused, a lawyer, a prosecution and a hearing. Up to this point, everything appears normal. But the reality is different. What takes place in the courtroom is nothing but a skit in which the case is over before it even begins. Moreover, sentences are often accompanied by confessions referred to as legal confessions that are extracted under torture.

The file is submitted to the judge only after the detainee has been forced to sign the confessions the authorities want. The judge only has to ask, “Is this your signature?” Then, the case is closed. The presumed “defendant” does not know what he signed and is later returned to solitary confinement and abused.

Al-Hajji points out that he always challenged the confessions on which the court bases its ruling, in an attempt to prove that they were extracted under duress and torture in order to underscore its invalidity. But the court does not take the challenge seriously.

He evokes his bitter experience with the judiciary saying, “I always demanded video footage during the interrogation and medical reports proving that the detainee had been tortured, but the court does not oblige the prosecution on this matter and completely ignores it.”

Violations of the rights of the detainees are never ending. The court does not allow a prisoner to appoint a lawyer until after the case begins in court. Accordingly, he is forbidden to communicate with his family during the investigation period. To make matters worse, it may take more than a year after being arrested to bring the accused to court. Sometimes the case is brought to the court of terrorism and then referred the same day to the criminal court, al-Hajji stresses.

Since the kingdom’s judiciary lacks integrity and credibility, Al-Hajji decided years ago to boycott the Saudi courts, after it became clear that the lawyer is only an ‘extra on set’, serving the authority and whitewashing its performance before the Western media. And the detainee never benefits from him.

The pain of those forgotten in prisons

Al-Hajji describes prison conditions as tragic. According to his previous observations and what is happening today, it is another world in detention, one not even seen in the movies. It is a strange wild world. And yet the authority carries out a huge media campaign to polish its image and the image of its prisons. The latest of which was shown on National Day when a large number of celebrities entered the prisons to praise the services there.

“The buildings are modern and well-equipped, but what about the torture chambers and solitary cells? These are violations in the dozens,” Al-Hajji says. “Mrs. Nassima Al-Sadah has been in solitary confinement for more than a year now. While it has been leaked that Loujain Al-Hathloul has been subjected to horrific forms of torture and harassment. There are some detainees who were imprisoned and were only set free after being murdered.”

Al-Hajji asserts that all those who enter prison are subjected to particularly harsh treatment during the first interrogation period. He points out that Shia political detainees are banned from practicing their religious rites and so are some books.

Al-Hajji draws a clear distinction in the way terrorist prisoners from Al-Qaeda and ISIS are treated. They are subjected to counseling programs, imprisoned for a few months, then released and given in-kind and material gifts in spite of their heinous crimes.

“This program does not include Shia detainees or prisoners of conscience. The authorities tried to say that they do it with them. However, the truth shows that it is carried out only at the end of the term that prisoners of conscience are serving, that is, before the prisoner is finally released. This means that none of the Shia detainees had been released before completing the sentence. They are not subjected to the counseling program at all. And this applies to the Sunni prisoners of conscience,” he adds.

The tragic situation of the detainees under Mohammed bin Salman’s reign worsened despite claims of reform. This grim picture prompts al-Hajji to predict new atrocities on the part of the authorities, especially since activists abroad are being chased and their families inside the Kingdom are being put under great pressure, where no dissident or opposition figure is free.

Down The Path of Justice, Oppression Becomes an Inspiration

By Nour Rida

So little has been written in mainstream media on Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, yet many people are learning about his case and cause. Nigerian people have been taking to the streets of the capital, to demand the immediate release of ailing the Muslim cleric.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds. The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

On this note, the Sheikh’s daughter, Suhaila al-Zakzaky, told al-Ahed news “The updates we have on my father’s condition is that he is still having difficulty getting things done. He is experiencing a lot of pain physically, and as a result it is difficult for him to sleep. His blood pressure has been fluctuating. Generally we have been very concerned; the doctors have not been able to conduct any proper further investigations into his condition. So, there is no full or conclusive statement on the status of his health.”

According to earlier reports, medical examinations on the Sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the Sheikh. The news said that such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated.

The daughter said she had no information on how lead poisoning took place. “I am not exactly sure how lead got there, they might have done it, and a medical team must investigate the case to conclude if he was poisoned or comment on how the lead got into his blood in first place.”

Answering whether she has direct contact with her father today, Suhaila pointed out “Yes, we do have direct contact because they gave him a phone now. Since the court case, they have allowed him to have a phone.”

Nigerians, according to the young activist, are protesting the injustice to which Sheikh Zakzaky is being subjected. “As you know there have been continuous protests almost on a daily basis and when it comes to the people, tremendous numbers have come to condemn what the government is doing,” Suhaila noted, adding “There are also some people who believe whatever the news says and think that the government is doing the right thing. The president’s aide held a press conference and claimed that the government has no power to interfere in the judicial process. However, the Islamic movement is trying as hard as possible to spread awareness and allow people to understand what is truly going on. It is so far very impressive how people are realizing the truth, and even many people in the government today condemn what is taking place.”

In regards on how this experience has affected her life, Suhaila explained “I would say that we have always expected possible adversities to be faced, and the massacre and the events that followed after to me, are more like what I would call the cost of this path (of justice). The only thing I can say is that it affects my outlook on everything. You know we have already sacrificed down this path, therefore it serves as an inspiration or motivation which would hopefully make us more steadfast.”

Furthermore, Suhaila underscored that she strongly believes that the detention of her father does make the Islamic movement stronger. “I believe that many people are finding out more about the Islamic movement not only due to the detention of my father but also due to the massacres that have happened. In terms of Nigeria for example, we have had a great level of supporters that we never knew we had. These people who show support to the Islamic movement did not bother to look into the Islamic movement earlier or even understand what it’s about. But now they show a great deal of support. Even on an international level, I believe that people, especially outside of Nigeria do not know much about the Islamic movement and with the level of media silence still a lot of people have become acquainted with the Islamic movement because of this, and hence yes I think it makes the Islamic movement stronger.”

Suhaila concluded that she, like many other young activists, will remain to participate in protests to sound her objection to the unjust detention of the Sheikh who is not only a father but also a leader in her eyes.

Related News/Posts

Nigeria Crackdown: Sheikh Zakzaky Granted Bail after Mass Protests

By Staff, Agencies

A Nigerian court granted bail to Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky so that he can fly to India for medical care, his lawyer says.

“The judge has ordered that Zakzaky be flown to India for proper medical attention,” his lawyer Femi Falana told AFP on Monday.

Sheikh Zakzaky, the founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria [IMN], has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.

During the brutal crackdown, three of his sons were martyred, his wife sustained serious wounds, and some 350 of his followers were killed.

Since then, the government has been violently cracking down on the IMN and its members.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said last month that the cleric’s health condition had further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

Sheikh Zakzaky was in dire need of medical treatment, as large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.

Recently, a Nigerian court granted the government permission to label the IMN as a “terrorist” group, a move that many believe would give the officials the opportunity to clamp down harder on it.

IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of Zakzaky.

In recent weeks, dozens of demonstrators were martyred after Nigerian troops used live ammunition and tear gas. The IMN says it has lost at least 20 of its members during the clashes.

A Bahraini Activist climbs the London’s roof of Bahraini embassy to stop execution of Two Activists on False Accusations

Update :

 

A Bahraini Activist climbs the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London to protest against executions and British police storm the building

Bahrain: Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations! UPDATED

Martyr Ali Al-Arab’s Last Words: I Didn’t Kill Him, I Don’t Even Know Where the Incident Happened!

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I didn’t kill Hisham al-Hamadi, at all, I am satisfied with Allah’s judgement,” those were the last words mouthed by martyr Ali Mohammad al-Arab who was on imminent death row. His family was totally concerned about his fate after a visit that seemed to be the last ever.

Bahrain Mirror cited his mother, who described the last moments of meeting with her son who has been detained for two years, as saying: “Everything was unusual when we arrived at Central Jaw Prison.”

Ali’s family reported that there was tight security measures at the prison, huge numbers of officers and policemen, and double inspection. The first time was when entering the prison’s building, and the second time was before entering the room where they met their son.

“We entered as groups. The duration of the visit was around an hour and a half. Ali said that after having lunch he was moved into a solitary cell like what they did to Ahmad al-Malali. I was handcuffed and remained so until before I entered this room,” Ali narrated.

The mother, who was very confused out of the shock, and asked one of her sons about the year Ali was born, said that Ali was studying Accounting in Saudi Arabia. He turned 25 a few months ago. And he spent more than two years in prison.

“As he told us earlier, the moment he entered Jaw Prison after issuing the verdict was very difficult on him because, according to his jailers, they prepared for him a torture and humiliation party the moment he arrived there,” the mother added.

“He stood in front of us, he was very happy to hug us without a glass barrier after this long period of separation. He looked into my eyes and was very calm as he told me: don’t worry mother, martyrdom is my wish, and here it is coming true.”

The mother recalled that Ali was way stronger than her. He was resilient and very calm until the last moment with him. He didn’t mention writing a will, but perhaps he had told one of his siblings about it: “I don’t know, I just know that he was worried about me and he didn’t want me to cry.”

As a mother, I can bear witness that my son Ali Mohammad al-Arab was subjected to torture, the lady said. During the first visit after his arrest, the mother said she saw him on a wheelchair and that he mentioned the names of those who tortured him.

Ali’s brother also told Bahrain Mirror that during the farewell meeting, his brother stressed total satisfaction with Allah’s judgement, and that he feels he will soon be executed.

“He entered the room wearing the prison’s grey uniform. After we had a short chat, I had a question in my mind about the truth of the accusation filed against him. I asked him: Brother, do you have anything to do with the killing of Hashem al-Hamadi? He replied: Not at all, I have nothing to do with his killing, I even neither know him nor the place where he was killed.”

The policewomen were secretly listening to al-Arabs from the open window in the small visit room. They were listening to every detail, and were surrounded by armed guards. They have clearly seen that Ali didn’t care to any of their behaviors. “Perhaps they wanted to witness the reaction of humans passing through such hard times as we were doing,” the brother added.

Ali’s mother noted that her son didn’t experience imprisonment before: “This is his first time in prison.” His siblings say: “We asked him about his will, but he said the only thing he wanted is Allah’s pleasure.”

Martyr Ali al-Arab’s mother and his siblings couldn’t find words that describe their loved one during that horrible moments. One of his siblings said: “What could I tell more? There wasn’t but a strong calm man. He greeted us and was full with pleasure.”

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest: “During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab were also ripped out.”

This Happened in the Small Room, Martyr Ahmad al-Malali’s Father Describes the Farewell Visit

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I wish I were martyred in a different way, but it finally happened,” these were the words of detainee Ahmad al-Malali who was facing imminent execution by Bahraini regime’s authorities on the issue of killing officer Hisham al-Hamadi, on which there is no evidence but the confessions made under systematic torture; a method that tops all kinds of evidence in Bahraini courts.

Isa, father of martyr Ahmad al-Malali told Bahrain Mirror that his son was pursued by the regime between 2011 and 2017, when he was only 16 years old. Now, as he turned 24, he didn’t enjoy his life, he couldn’t study or work, until he was arrested and accused of assassinating that officer.

Seeking freedom, martyr Ahmad was trying to escape via sea before a military force raided the boat and arrested him. During the urgent and quick visit that came a few hours before the expected execution, Ahmad said:

“I was hiding behind the edge of the boat. Bullets were flying over, so I told myself I wish one of them would hit me so I can be martyred. The bullet, however, settled in my wrist. I wished I could have martyred in another way. But it has finally happened, and this is the most important.”

The Urgent Visit

The urgent visit didn’t go as normal as before. The family received a call in which they were informed that they are allowed a special visit to see their detained son at noon. There number for the members allowed to visit was unlimited. It was a clear that it is a “farewell visit”, the father says. Isa al-Malali narrates that some 35 members of the family came to the gate of Central Jaw Prison to meet with Ahmad.

“The situation was unusual there. Military patrols were roaming the area surrounding the prison. We were divided into groups of five. Each group can enter to meet with Ahmad for 15 minutes and so on…” the father says.

Inspection was tight, the policewomen took off the women’s headscarves, even their headbands. After the inspection, every member was escorted with two police officers. On both sides of the corridor leading to the visit room, there were armed policemen. When the members arrived at the room, other officers were examining the names.

Inside the Room

The visit room has two doors, the one that the family entered through, and the other through which Ahmad entered. “We hugged him, he sat in front of us. He was aware of what was going on. He knew they were his last hours before the execution,” the father describes the situation.

There was a small window inside the room, it was open and the policewomen sitting behind it were listening all what was going on inside. Beside them there were some armed policemen. “You won’t doubt for a single moment that their looks hide killing and death.”

I talked to my son, the father says.

He described his escape attempt and how he was wishing for martyrdom. “We all know that my son is innocent, but unfortunately no one called us to ask about what he was saying over that period. Neither the family of the killed officer, nor the MPs called us. After this visit, only human rights activists called us although they learned that this will happen and that he will be executed after a few hours.

Inside the room, Ahmad asked for forgiveness from all the family members in case he had made something wrong to them during his life. “He wrote his will, he told us, and we will read it after his execution. He refused to give us details. He asked us to read it only after he leaves this world,” the father narrates.

We started performing prayers inside the room, and Ahmad participated with us. We also recited the Ziyara (visit) of Imam Hussein (AS). We were reciting as we heard the policewomen laughing as they were overlooking us from the window, Isa al-Malali explains.

An officer who seemed responsible for the visits entered the room and told me, “bid your son farewell, the visit is almost over,” the father said, adding that martyr Ahmad was the one helping us to stay patient, asking us to trust God and be patient and satisfied with Allah’s judgement and destiny.

“I bid my son who will leave this life at 24 farewell. He is my eldest. I only say that my son is innocent. May Allah avenge from anyone who wronged my son,” the father concludes.

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest:

“During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab’s feet were also ripped out.”

 

Related Videos

Related Articles

Bahrain Wakes Up to Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations!

By Staff

The Manama regime announced on Saturday (July 27, 2019) morning the execution of two political prisoners who were allegedly accused of killing a Bahraini officer in 2017.

In further details, the families of Ahmad Isa al-Malali (24) and Ali Mohammed al-Arab (25) confirmed the news. The two martyrs denied all accusations and stressed that they were forced to made false confessions that were extracted under torture which included unplucking their feet nails and electrocution.

According to the martyrs, the Bahraini court made its judgement based on such confessions extracted under torture and without any single tangible evidence.

This is the second time the ruthless Bahraini regime executes political opposition activists. The first time happened on January, 14, 2017 when martyrs Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima’ and Ali al-Singace were executed in the same way.

The executions came despite calls by Amnesty International that the Bahraini authorities must urgently halt the imminent execution of the two activists “who were convicted after a grossly unfair mass trial after they were tortured to confess.”

Also, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a national appeal to stop the implementation of executions a day earlier.

Relatively, three human rights organizations (SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights) issued a statement in the same respect.

Related News

%d bloggers like this: