Rights Group Warns of Imminent Mass Executions of Political Prisoners in Saudi Arabia

September 9, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A Europe-based human rights organization expressed concerns over the imminent execution of dozens of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi courts continue to hand heavy punishment to human rights activists for expressing their opinion.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights [ESOHR] said in a statement that 34 people are currently on the verge of execution in the oil-rich Gulf country, noting that Saudi authorities have put at least 120 people to death since the beginning of January until the end of May this year.

ESOHR said that Bahraini nationals Jaafar Mohammad Sultan and Sadeq Majeed Thamer, who have been accused of ‘terrorism’-related crimes, face imminent “arbitrary” execution and could be killed at any moment.

“Due to the escalation of repressive measures in Saudi Arabia, the lives of these two Bahraini youths are in danger. Many other political detainees are at the risk of execution as well,” the human rights organization said.

Back in May, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of Thamer and Sultan after finding them guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and involvement in ‘terrorist’ activities.

The two Bahraini nationals were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest while being subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

In January, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called on Saudi Arabia to halt the men’s execution and investigate their allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

International human rights organizations have called upon Saudi authorities to stop the imminent execution of the two Bahraini men.

The organizations have urged the officials not to ratify the death sentences, but rather, quash their convictions and re-try them in line with international fair trial standards.

According to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Abdullah al-Howaiti, Jalal al-Bad, Yusuf al-Manasif, Sajjad al-Yasin, Hassan Zaki al-Faraj, Mehdi al-Moshen and Abdullah al-Razi are among the Saudi teenagers sentenced to death.

Saudi courts, ESOHR went on, have recently imposed heavy punishment and decades-long prison sentences against human rights activists and democracy advocates for expressing their opinion.

It noted that Saudi officials have sentenced Nourah al-Qahtani to 45 years in prison for her social media posts.

According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Qahtani received the heavy sentence on appeal after she was convicted of “using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia’s] social fabric” and “violating public order” via social media.

The Washington-based group added that she was convicted under the kingdom’s so-called counter-‘terrorism’ and anti-cybercrime law.

Earlier, Saudi officials had sentenced women’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab to 34 years in prison.

The United Nations Human Rights Council said in a statement that the jail term handed down to Shehab, a mother of two young children and a doctoral student at the United Kingdom’s Leeds University, is the longest sentence ever given to a women’s rights defender in Saudi Arabia.

The statement, nevertheless, came a week before Qahtani’s 45-year imprisonment was revealed.

The UN rights council noted that Saudi authorities have taken advantage of the return to the international fold, following the savage killing of Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to deepen their crackdown on political opponents.

Last month, ESOHR expressed grave concern over the alarming surge in executions in Saudi Arabia in the first half of the current year, saying the figure is almost twice the number during all of last year.

The new statistics fly in the face of commitments given by Saudi authorities to curb the use of capital punishments.

Last year, 65 people were executed in the kingdom, a slight drop from the previous year that ESOHR attributed partially to coronavirus restrictions.

“If Saudi Arabia continues to execute people at the same rate during the second half of 2022, then it will exceed the record of 186 executions in 2019,” ESOHR said.

Since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activities, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom’s authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-‘terrorism’ laws to target activism.

Andrei Martyanov: SAS and BRICS

July 14, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

Medical neglect kills prisoner Saadia Matar in Israeli ‘Damon’ prison

July 03, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Local sources announce the martyrdom of female Palestinian prisoner Saadia Matar in the Israeli “Damon” prison due to medical neglect.

Palestinian prisoner Saadia Matar

Local sources on Saturday announced that the female Palestinian prisoner Saadia Matar died in the Israeli “Damon” prison.

Sources reported that the administration of the occupation prisons informed prisoners that Matar died on Saturday morning.

Matar was 68 years old and from Al-Khalil.

On its part, Muhjat Al-Quds Foundation reported that, with Matar’s death, the number of Palestinians who were martyred while in Israeli captivity rises to 230.

Read more: The Policy of Neglect; Behind the Walls of the Occupation Prisons

The Foundation’s PR Director confirmed in an interview for Al-Mayadeen that the captive Saadia Matar was martyred as a result of illness and medical negligence.

It is noteworthy that Matar was arrested by the occupation forces in 2021 after a settler beat her as she was crossing the street near Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, claiming that she tried to stab him.

In this context, the Prisoners Information Office said the martyred captive, Saadia Matar, was brutally assaulted and severely beaten during her arrest, which deteriorated her health condition, further exacerbated by medical neglect.

Following her death, Muhjat Al-Quds Foundation reported tension growing in different sections of prisons with prisoners shouting and knocking on doors in protest. 

The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies warned, in a detailed statement, that the lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are in real danger, especially under the Israeli policy of deliberate medical negligence.

The center warned that dozens of Palestinian prisoners may die inside the Israeli prisons if they are not provided with the necessary medical care. 

Director of the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, researcher Riyad Al-Ashqar, stated that 160 Palestinian prisoners, who suffer from chronic diseases, face “slow death” due to medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities.

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Inside MBS’ Torture Cells: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault, Sheer Brutality and Murder

June 26, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A study, carried out by Grant Liberty, a human rights charity Prisoners revealed that prisoners held for opposing the government in Saudi Arabia are being murdered, “sexually” assaulted and inflicted with “sheer” brutality.

The study identified 311 known prisoners of conscience in the era of Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud [MBS]–the kingdom’s leader who is the current crown prince, deputy prime minister, and minister of defense.

Researchers, who shared the report exclusively with The Independent, claimed that 53 prisoners have been tortured, while six were sexually assaulted, and 14 were pushed into undergoing hunger strikes.

The report looked at the plight of 23 women’s rights activists, 11 of whom were still behind bars, as well as also identifying 54 journalists.

Some 22 of the prisoners were arrested for crimes that they carried out when they were still children – five of them were put to death. An additional 13 were facing the death penalty, while four had died in custody.

Lucy Rae, of Grant Liberty, told The Independent: “Sadly the abuse of the prisoners of conscience continues as the world watches on, women are subjected to sustained and brutal violations with no basic human rights.

“We call upon the kingdom to back up its statement of being a ‘modern and progressive country’ with actions and release innocent individuals who were disappeared, were arrested and subjected to sham trials.

“Imprisoning, torturing and abusing an elderly mother such as Aida Al Ghamdi because her son has sought asylum surely is abhorrent and wrong in any nation.”

Abdullah al-Ghamdi, a political and human rights activist who is the son of Al-Ghamdi, said he escaped Saudi Arabia after being threatened for campaigning against authoritarian policies in the middle eastern country.

His mother, Aida, and two of his brothers were arrested after he left, he added.

“They were arrested not because they had committed a crime, but because of my activism,” Al-Ghamdi, whose situation is explored in the report, said.

Al-Ghamdi, who lives in the UK, added: “For over three years, my dear ageing 65-year-old mother and my younger brother have been held by the Saudi royal family. They have been held in solitary confinement and subjected to physical torture by cigarette burning, beating and lashing.

“It’s very hard to contact my family as this will put them in danger as the Saudi government told them not to contact me and give me any updates on my mother and brother’s case, so as of yet I am unsure of my mother’s charges.”

He said his mother was held for over a year in Dhahban Central Prison in Jeddha before being moved to Dammam Mabahith Prison. He wishes she was “safe, free and be able to rejoice with her loved ones”.

“There is not a time where she is not on my mind and it pains me that all my hard work hasn’t led to a definite answer for her freedom,” he added.

Al-Ghamdi said he had been “fighting to bring justice and freedom to the Saudi nation” since 2004 and secure a “democracy where there is an independent justice system”.

He said his mother had been tortured in front of her son Adil, who was also beaten and tortured.

“Due to her old age she has diabetes, high blood pressure and she suffers from regular abdomen pains; due to the unjust treatment and torture within prison her mental health has worsened,” he said of his mother.

“MBS and the Saudi royal family are holding her hostage demanding that I return to Saudi Arabia to face torture and imminent death so that people like me who stand for justice, equality and a fair society are silenced like those before me.”

He urged the “world, the UN and every single person with a voice” to speak out against “this outrageous behavior”.

Rae also cited the case of Loujain Al Hathloul, who was subjected to a travel ban and jailed for campaigning for women’s rights.

Human rights organizations say Al Hathloul has been forced to endure abuse including electric shocks, flogging and sexual harassment while in jail. Loujain, who successfully campaigned to win Saudi women the right to drive, was arrested alongside 10 other women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 – weeks before the country reversed the driving ban.

Rae warned it was imperative to “make people aware of the sheer brutality, murders and sexual assault happening to prisoners of conscience” in the country, adding it is “our duty as a human race” to protect the innocent.

“And we can start by demanding the release of these prisoners. Grant Liberty will not stop until every prisoner of conscience is freed and that Saudi Arabia is recognized for what it really is – a pariah to democracy and human rights,” she said.

Eleven Years in the Dark Corridors of the Khiam Detention Center: An Unbreakable Will to Resist

May 25, 2022

By Zeinab Abdallah

South Lebanon – It has been a couple of decades since Lebanon was liberated from the ‘Israeli’ occupation. It is a 20-year old achievement that is being strengthened at every turning point.

Only children didn’t know, at the time, the true stories of pain behind the joy this event has brought to their lives, the ones who were used not to have a single place where they could spend their summer vacations.

What will be narrated below is just the story of one person. A southerner who decided to stand up against the occupation of his country. This person ended up spending 11 years behind ‘Israeli’ bars from November, 1985 until July, 1996.

Liberated detainee Hajj Ali Khsheish, who has the scars of those 11 years on his body and soul, told al-Ahed News about how he was detained, torture inside the prison, and the inhumane treatment of ‘Israeli’ collaborators.

Eleven Years in the Dark Corridors of the Khiam Detention Center: An Unbreakable Will to Resist
Liberated Detainee Hajj Ali Khsheish at the Khiam Detention Center – Al-Ahed News, May, 2020

“In the beginning, we had a resistance activity inside an occupied area where the ‘Israeli’ was very comfortable to practice whatever he wants. It was a group of youngsters who decided to resist the occupier and hence we founded a small group that was known the Islamic Resistance.”

The early resistance men, he added, were under the ‘Israeli’ agents’ sight. For them, it was both difficult and dangerous to transfer a weapon inside the occupied territories. That’s why at the time, many arrests were made in the village of Khiam and other villages in the region. Members of different political organizations were also detained.

On November 11, 1985, Hajj Ali, as well as many other members of the Islamic Resistance were detained and taken to the Khiam Prison, better known as the Khiam Detention Center, which was located in Hajj Ali’s own homeland, and run by Antoine Lahd’s militia under the ‘Israeli’ administration.

Interrogation and torture

Interrogation was as harsh as all forms of torture practiced inside the place. The enemy, according to Hajj Ali, doesn’t spare an area in the human body un-tortured to obtain the information he wants. ‘Israel’ was dying to learn all information related to the resistance activities and how it is transferring weapons and exchanging information.

According to his own experience, Hajj Ali says he had been interrogated for four months in a raw. “During the same period, many arrests from Bint Jbeil, Markaba and Taybeh were made, so the enemy assumed that there is a common link between those groups, although every group was indeed operating separately.”

In the painful memories of his years behind the ‘Israeli’ bars, the man repeats that torture was very harsh. ‘Israel’ mastered its means of torture in that place, which were numeral and inhumane at every level. Electric shocks, electric cables, electric pole hangers, deprivation of sleep, food and restrooms, head covers and handcuffs, solitary cells, the ‘Chicken Coop’, insults, intimidations and torturing relatives… and the list goes on.

“We used to sleep in corridors before being transferred to cells. At the time, the prison’s area wasn’t fit to contain the huge number of detainees. While sleeping there, the jailer walks into the corridor and kicks us. Even when we are hanged on the electric poles we were also beaten…” the man said, adding that “they used to rub our wounds with salt, or warm up an iron rod to burn parts of our bodies… all of their methods were barbaric, they didn’t use any humane action when dealing with the detainees.”

Many detainees were martyred while hanged naked, in cold and hot weathers, and without food or water, for three days on the electric poles.

Such innovated methods were both directed and supervised by Amer al-Fakhoury, the ‘Israeli’ collaborator who in a couple of months ago fled Lebanon after being discharged by the Lebanese Military Tribunal on the crimes he has committed due to the ‘passage of time’.

Torture was not limited to the period of interrogation, it would rather accompany the detainee all over his time at the prison. This depends on how moody the jailer is.

Interrogators were focused on obtaining any piece of information about Hezbollah, and the activity of the Islamic Resistance. They focused on detainees affiliated with Hezbollah, their bitterest enemy who caused them a lot of pain. Even when the Islamic Resistance carries out a successful operation, they used to retaliate by torturing the detainees.

“They didn’t treat us as humans, they didn’t take into account any health condition the detainee could be suffering from. Even for those whose hands or legs were amputated, they used to beat them on that areas.”

The post-interrogation period

After the minimum of two months interrogation period and solitary confinement, detainees were transferred to 2-meter wide and 2.5-meter long cells. They were designed for five detainees at the same time. The cells were neither equipped with light, nor with toilets. “At night, we sleep in line, everyone’s head is opposite to the other’s legs…”

The room didn’t even have a restroom inside it, detainees couldn’t but use a bucket to have their essential need met. They were not allowed to speak inside their cell, nor anywhere else. Their voice mustn’t be heard, otherwise the jailer knows what he would do. Detainees were even denied the right to sun exposure. They were only allowed for 5 minutes every month or less in a small yard that they crowd inside it 10 to 15 detainees.

“It was barely one tour inside the yard before we are taken back to our cells. Speaking was not allowed there, neither was smiling at each other.”

Food, water and medication

Every portion of food served to one detainee per day wasn’t meant to fill the stomach of a baby. Two small toasts for breakfast, with three olives and jam. Then comes the lunch, an entire dish of unsalted stew to serve the five detainees inside each cell. And finally the dinner, also two small toasts with a boiled egg and a potato.

“We considered that we are living only because the angel of death was busy somewhere else. Everything inside the Khiam Detention Center was driving us to death, and this is why when a new colleague entered the prison, he told me that my family learned that I was dead, and that they held a memorial service for me,” Hajj Ali Khsheish recalled.

The place doesn’t resemble any of the world’s prisons. The maximum period of interrogation in any jail in the world is 72 hours, then the prisoner would be moved to a cell that fits for a human use. In this case, however, there didn’t exist even the least of elements of the human survival.

Minding the portions of food prisoners were served inside the place, it was subsequently understandable that they would be dined drinking water as well.

The jailers would deprive detainees from drinking water for three consecutive days under the pretext that the water service is cut off. “We used to demand drinking, even from the water heater, which was already rust, only to quench our thirst.”

‘Miscol’ was the multifunctional drug we were given, Hajj Ali said. It was an ‘Israeli’ drug, most of the times we discover it was expired when given to us, but the jailers used to give to the detainees every time they feel a pain, no matter what kind of pain or in which body organ. Detainees, in best cases, were injected with water instead of medicine.

Freedom of religious rituals

Detainees used to recite the holy Quran according to the memorizations, they didn’t actually have access to any hard copy, although they managed once to obtain a very small part of the holy book, which they secretly shared by turn.

In Ashura, for example, when the jailer hears that they are making any activity, he used to open the cell suddenly and start beating them.

Even in the holy month of fasting, jailers turn generous and force fasting detainees to drink and eat. Indeed, they pour water inside their mouths. Once, a detainee thought he would escape a forced breakfast, so when the jailer asked him if he is fasting, the detainee said no. The jailer, however, started beating and scolding him because he is a Muslim but was not fasting!

Tyranny anytime, anywhere

“Sometimes, jailers order detainees to cover their heads, it was up to their mood if they don’t want to see our faces. The prison’s regime was arbitrary. Everybody should be awake at 6, with the components of their cell be organized. Sometimes, they storm the cell at midnight, or even after, they force detainees to stand up facing the wall, raising their hands up, for an hour or two,” Hajj Ali added.

Other times, when the wrestling team a jailer likes loses, he takes a group of detainees to the yard and starts beating them!

As a result, detainees used to organize hunger strikes to raise their voice high…

The Khiam Detention Center Uprising

“One time, the detainees rejected food for three times because a jailer dragged one of us while he was preforming prayers and took him out. Detainees started knocking the doors. How would they do such thing during the prayers?”

The uprising started in 1993, and what was remarkable is that all detainees, even the women in their separate building, united with each other, without learning the reason ahead, they just heard the knocking and understood that some major thing was going wrong.

The jailers, however, threw gas bombs and fired some shots inside the already narrow and closed prison cells. Many detainees suffocated, so the others calmed down to save the lives of their fellows. After that, the jailers took around 70 detainees outside and started beating them until the strike ended.

The prisoners’ demands were access to sufficient food as well as sun exposure and restrooms, the basic needs provided in the rights of detainees according to the Geneva Conference. The prison’s administration responded to the demands. However, it was very soon that they backtracked this policy. The ‘Israeli’ policy was keen to keep the detainees’ only concern is to have food, sun exposure and toilets. Otherwise, if things remained comfortable, detainees would demand additional things the prison’s administration didn’t want to meet.

Hajj Ali no more behind bars

As part of a swap deal between the Islamic Resistance, that detained bodies of two ‘Israeli’ soldiers, and the Zionist regime, Hajj Ali Khsheish was released with the group of 40 detainees and bodies of 124 martyrs on July 21st, 1996.

Eleven Years in the Dark Corridors of the Khiam Detention Center: An Unbreakable Will to Resist
Liberated Detainee Hajj Ali Khsheish at the Khiam Detention Center – Al-Ahed News, May, 2020

As free as before, he decided to continue the next period in Beirut, firstly to save himself and his relatives from any possible future detention, and secondly, which was more important to him, to resume his resistance activity.

Turning his back to the years of pain, Hajj Ali walked out of the place where he spent the harshest 11 years of his life… He returned, however, to the same place, after it was liberated during the liberation of south Lebanon and the withdrawal of ‘Israeli’ occupation in May, 2000.

Since then, he and several colleagues, dedicated themselves to explain to every visitor of the Khiam Detention Center how ‘Israel’ and its Lebanese collaborators have been involved in war crimes against all detainees.

Tortured Death Row Bahraini Prisoners at Risk of Execution by Saudi Regime

May 23, 2022

By Sondos al-Assad

Lebanon – Two Bahraini nationals Sadeq Thamer [33] and Jaafar Sultan [30], who have exhausted all their appeals, are at imminent risk of execution by Saudi regime, on the basis of his torture-tainted “confessions”. The young men have been arrested, without a warrant, on May 8, 2015, while crossing King Fahd Causeway.

They have been subjected to enforced disappearance [for 115 days], severely tortured and accused of “transporting explosive materials”. According to rights groups, 25 days after their arrest, they were supposed to be transferred to Bahrain. However, while they were on the bus, a Bahraini officer received a call and began to insult and threaten them with reprisal. Then, they were returned to the Saudi territories.

On the same day, their houses in Bahrain were violently stormed by individuals belonging to the Bahraini Criminal Investigations Directorate in civilian clothes. The policemen confiscated a laptop, computer, and phones, and their families were not informed about their whereabouts.

Sadeq and Jaafar were then taken to the Saudi General Investigation Prison in Dammam, where they were placed in solitary confinement for nearly 115 days [4 months].

After their families reached out to various Bahraini and Saudi governmental bodies, Sadeq and Jaafar were allowed to call but mentioned nothing about the condition of their detention and investigations.

During the first family visit, on 13 October 2015, Sadeq and Jaafar informed their parents that they were forcibly pressured to confess under severe and inhumane physical and psychological torture. In court, Jaafar told the lawyer that he was transferred to the hospital for 10 days because of torture and that he was threatened too with torturing his family members. Likewise, Sadeq was mal-treated, beaten, and threatened to be tortured and held incommunicado when refusing to sign the fabricated charges.

The Saudi Public Prosecution charged Sadeq and Jaafar with allegedly joining a terrorist cell, smuggling explosive materials, and misleading the Saudi investigation authorities. Then a Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced them to death on 7 October 2021. Noting that also Bahrain’s 4th High Criminal Court sentenced them on 31 May 2016 to life imprisonment and a fine of 200000 BHD dinars for the same charges.

Sadeq and Jaafar are prominent religious and social activists and apparently, their arbitrary conviction is politically-motivated.

The use of the death penalty has dramatically escalated over the past decade in Bahrain, specifically rising by more than 600%, with at least 5 citizens being executed for political reasons. Despite pledges for human rights reform, some 26 men in Bahrain are currently facing imminent execution, 12 of whose convictions were based on false torture and were convicted of “terrorism” charges.

For its part, the Saudi authorities executed last March 81 individuals, marking a sharp rise in the number of recorded executions. This appalling death toll is likely to be an underestimate, as Saudi authorities do not publish statistics on executions or the number of prisoners on death row; nor do they inform families or lawyers in advance of executions.

Torture is rampant in Saudi Arabia, and courts regularly admit torture-tainted “confessions” as evidence. Thus, sentencing torture survivors to death for their peaceful activism is a heinous crime. While Sadeq and Jaafar’s helpless families await the news in anguish, the uncertainty of knowing that they could be murdered at any moment is an unspeakable strain!

Riyadh Court Upholds Death Sentence of Two Bahraini Youths

May 21, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A top Saudi court upheld death sentences of two young Bahraini nationals over trumped-up terror charges.

The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia issues a final ruling to execute Bahraini prisoners of conscience, Sadiq Thamer and Jaafar Sultan

The Riyadh-based supreme court of appeals sentenced Sadiq Majid Thamer and Jaafar Mohammed Sultan to death after alleging that they have been found guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and “involved in terrorist activities.”

Human rights organizations and an opposition protest movement described the rulings as “unfair and arbitrary,” saying they were issued based on confessions extracted under torture.

This come as social media activists have launched campaigns in solidarity with the two Bahraini youths, with human rights organizations and campaigners calling for an end to the “unjust” ruling and their immediate release.

Bahrain’s February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition held the Saudi regime fully responsible for the youths’ safety, calling on the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take on his duties and intervene urgently to stop the crime.

The Bahraini opposition movement also called on the international community to stand up against Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and prevent the death sentences from being carried out.

The Coalition demanded swift action to save the lives of the two young Bahraini nationals before it gets too late, considering Bahrain’s ruling Khalifah regime as a partner in any criminal action against the Arab nation.

Sultan and Thamer were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest. The Bahraini youths were subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has said that drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit tiny Gulf kingdom, urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing dissent.

Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

Testimony Reveals Zelensky’s Secret Police Plot to ‘Liquidate’ Opposition Figure Anatoly Shariy

April 14th, 2022

Accounts from the Ukrainian SBU’s torture prison reveal Zelensky’s plot to assassinate exiled opposition figure and leading journalist Anatoly Shariy.

By Dan Cohen

Source

KIEV, UKRAINE — On March 7, Anatoly Shariy, a Ukrainian opposition figure and one of the country’s most popular journalists, received an email from Igor, an old acquaintance with whom he had not communicated for years (Igor is an alias used to protect his identity).

“Please help me find a place to live, suggest an apartment or an agent. I’m ready to do any work for you, whatever you say,” the email read.

“I realized that he was in the hands of the SBU,” Shariy told me, using the acronym for Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, notorious for its persecution of anyone accused of sympathy for Russia. “I understood whom I was talking to and did not particularly answer anything.”

Shariy suspected that the SBU wanted Igor to surveil him for an assassination attempt.

Four days later, Shariy received an email from a different address. This time, it was Igor, confirming Shariy’s suspicion that the first email had been written by an SBU agent. Igor explained that he had been interrogated and tortured for his ties to Russia.

“I realized that the SBU officers were preparing an assassination attempt on Anatoly and decided to agree to warn him that his life was in danger,” he told me in a phone call.

Shariy has lived in exile since 2012, having fled during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych and received political asylum in the EU. His opposition to the 2014 Maidan coup d’etat grew his profile and made him a target of Petro Poroshenko, who came to power in its wake. The neo-Nazi movements he had exposed in prior years had gained serious political power and intensified their aggression against him. In 2015, Lithuanian media branded Shariy as a “favorite friend of Putin,” and the Lithuanian government soon revoked his asylum. Shariy, meanwhile, had sought protection elsewhere and relocated to Spain, where he has continued to grow into one of the most popular critics of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

However, his predicament has hardly improved. In 2019, Alexander Zoloytkhin, a former soldier of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, published the address and photos of the house where Shariy, his wife Olga Shariy and young child live, as well as photos of Olga’s car. Ukrainian neo-Nazis demonstrated outside his house and he received numerous death threats.

Today, he is a top target of the Kiev government, neo-Nazi paramilitaries, and the SBU.

‘I helped him to become the president’

Shariy began his career in journalism in 2005, first writing for women’s magazines, and then conducting investigations into Ukrainian oligarchs, organized crime, and neo-Nazi networks.

He became a well-known critic of the 2014 U.S.-orchestrated Maidan coup d’etat, using his YouTube channel video blog to amass an enormous online following. Today, he has nearly 3 million subscribers on YouTube, 340,000 on Facebook, and 268,000 on Twitter, becoming one of the country’s most popular journalists despite living outside its borders for a decade.

In 2019, months ahead of the presidential election, Shariy founded a center-right Libertarian political party, naming it after himself: The Party of Shariy. Appealing to young professionals and small and medium business owners, Shariy’s online popularity transformed him into an important player in building a coalition, consistently polling between three and six percent.

Shariy actively supported Zelensky during the campaign, attacking the incumbent Poroshenko. “I thought he [Zelensky] was determined to follow up on his election promises. I helped him to become the president. It’s true me and my team did anything for him to get the post,” Shariy told m

Shariy’s activists were effective in disrupting Poroshenko’s campaign events.

“We were following Poroshenko everywhere we went with his pre-election tour. There were so many people in each city and town organizing themselves in groups and asking Poroshenko hard questions,” Shariy recalled.

In one July 2019 event, Shariy’s supporters trolled Poroshenko’s campaign motto – “Army – YES, Language – YES, Faith – YES” – answering “Shariy” instead of “YES.”

But Zelensky’s carefully-crafted campaign image of a political outsider dedicated to stamping out rampant corruption – copy-pasted from his hit television series, “Servant of the People” – turned out to be a farce.

Zelensky cut deals with oligarchs and stacked his cabinet with the same figures he spent his campaign criticizing. He spurned the coalition-building efforts that typify Ukraine’s multi-party parliamentary democracy, preferring to cut backroom deals for votes. He even sided with his former bitter rival Poroshenko’s own party in Odessa’s 2020 municipal elections despite his famous quote during the pre-election debates when he told Poroshenko, “I AM YOUR VERDICT” – “Я – ваш приговор”.

“When I realized he was not intending to change anything, the corruption was the same or even worse, we changed our mind,” Shariy said.

Following Zelensky’s victory, he proceeded to eliminate state funding for parties that received under 5% of the vote in the elections. Shariy’s party, having received only 2.23%, was among those that were cut off.

Spurned by the new president who he helped get elected, Shariy publicly denounced Zelensky, remarking that he should “curtail their state funding and shove it up their ass.”

Zelensky betrayed his campaign promises of reform and meaningful progress in the Donbass stalemate, leading to a rapid decline in popular support. This left a niche open which was quickly filled by the Party of Shariy. While older voters traditionally supported Viktor Medvedchuk’s “Opposition Platform – For Life”, Shariy’s online presence and style appealed to younger generations.

On the ground, Party of Shariy activists began to protest Zelensky with the same tactics they had wielded in his favor against Poroshenko, appearing at his events and demanding his resignation.

As Shariy gained political capital and was even considered a possible contender for the presidency in a future election, the war of words between him and Zelensky turned into a bitter rivalry.

Zelensky lashed out at Shariy, accusing him of “trying to increase your rating at the expense of my rating, the rating of the president.”

Ukrainian journalist Yuri Tkachev, who was recently arrested by the SBU, commented that Shariy’s party is much stronger than the polls indicate. “It is strange to think that the government would spend so much energy on an insignificant opposition party. All this makes us think that their ratings are higher than they are trying to show us,” he remarked.

Hunting dissidents on a political ‘safari’

Throughout the election, the anti-Poroshenko antics of the Party of Shariy were met with severe violence from the president’s base, which included ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists. Some who dared to ask Poroshenko difficult questions were beaten. In Zaporizhzhya, a man’s car was set on fire and a woman was assaulted by Poroshenko himself.

This violence continued after Zelensky won the election and his rivalry with Zelensky intensified.

At a June 2020 demonstration in which Party of Shariy members demanded an investigation into the politically motivated attacks on their members, neo-Nazi groups attacked using smoke bombs and tear gas, followed by brawls inside the subway. Afterward, these groups announced a political “safari,” offering rewards for attacks on Party of Shariy members. This marked the escalation of violence meted out against the political opposition, especially targeting the Party of Shariy and its supporters.

In one incident, masked men beat a young man in Kharkiv, leaving him severely injured and hospitalized. In Vinnytsia, men from the neo-fascist group Edelweiss beat a party member in broad daylight, breaking his ribs and puncturing a lung. In another incident, a member of the U.S.-trained neo-Nazi Azov Battalion attacked a member inside their party office.

While members of his party were beaten in the streets and inside their offices, Shariy was under threat. On July 8, 2020, he accused Zelensky of ordering his assassination, publishing a confession given to Catalan Police by Zoloytkhin, the man who had published his address the year before. Zoloytkhin was wanted in Ukraine for numerous serious crimes, including participation in the 2016 kidnapping and beating of journalist Vladislav Bovtruk. Zoloytkhin confessed to police that top figures in the Zelensky government had instructed him to murder Shariy, and Shariy published a video confession from Zoloytkhin.

In February 2021, the SBU charged Shariy with treason, accusing him of “spreading Russian propaganda,” and summoned him to an interrogation by the SBU. After he declined to appear, he was put on the national wanted list.

Shariy is blacklisted on Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), an online database of what its owner declared “enemies of the state,” containing personal information and addresses. The blacklist is affiliated with the Ukrainian government and SBU and was founded by Anton Herashchenko, now an advisor to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. The site accuses Shariy of violating the sovereignty of Ukraine and financing terrorists.

Shariy Myrotvorets

Multiple figures were killed soon after their names were added to the list. On April 15, 2015, Oleh Kalashnikov, a politician from the pro-Russia Party of Regions, the party of ousted president Victor Yanukovych, was shot to death in Kiev. The next day, Oles Buzina, a prominent journalist and author who advocated for unity among Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia and campaigned to outlaw neo-Nazi organizing, was shot and killed near his apartment. The culprits were found to be Andrey Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk, neo-Nazis who had served in government and military positions – their confessions were published by Shariy. Yet Buzina’s murderers not only walk free but have received government funding.

Oles Buzina
The scene of Oles Buzina’s murder. Credit | Ruptly

Zelensky has opened numerous criminal cases against Shariy. He personally enacted sanctions against him, his wife Olga Shariy, and his wife’s mother, Alla Bondarenko. Shariy’s political party was banned in Zelensky’s sweeping March 20 decree that criminalized all opposition parties, accusing them of ties to Russia.

‘An ordinary person confesses at least to the murder of John F. Kennedy’

Prior to the Russian offensive, Shariy appeared often on Russian television, positioning himself as a neutral alternative to Zelensky and his regime of pro-EU neoliberals and neo-fascists. When Russian tanks rumbled across the Ukrainian border, he immediately denounced the invasion, calling the Kremlin foolish for invading a country that he believed would collapse on its own. Nonetheless, the threats against him intensified and Zelensky sought to eliminate Shariy from political life and kill him altogether.

On March 2, Ukrainian intelligence agents arrived at the Kiev home of Igor. The following is an account he gave to MintPress over the phone on April 7.

They took him into custody, handcuffing him and placing a sack over his head, then took him to a sports complex-turned temporary prison, connected to the main SBU headquarters, located in central Kiev between Vladimirskaya, Irininsky, Patorzhinsky, and Malopodvalna streets. Originally constructed as a Trade Union Palace following the Russian revolution, this building became the Bolshevik headquarters of Ukraine. Since 1938, it served as headquarters of the Gestapo during the Nazi occupation, the NKVD of the U.S.SR, and today, as a torture center for Russian prisoners of war and Ukrainians accused of having ties to Russia.

Inside the narrow underground rooms converted to an expansive state security complex, Igor says, SBU agents oversee members of the “Territorial Defense” – ultra-nationalist civilians and criminal elements who the government gave weapons in the streets in the first days of Russia’s offensive – as they beat, torture and even kill their prisoners.

Numerous prominent figures have been kidnapped and tortured by the Territorial Defense and the SBU. Among them are mixed martial arts fighter Maxim Rindkovsky, who was beaten on video and allegedly killed, Denis Kireev, the Ukrainian negotiator who was murdered after being accused of treason, and Volodymyr Struk, the Mayor of Kreminna, who was murdered after being accused of supporting Russia. Even Dmitry Demyanenko, former SBU head of the Kiev region, was shot dead in his car on March 10, accused of sympathy for Russia.

In fact, the SBU is a project of the CIA. Following the 2014 coup, the security service was headed by Valentin Nalyvaichenko, who was recruited by the CIA when he was the Consul General of Ukraine in the United States. The CIA reportedly has an entire floor in the SBU headquarters.

In November 2021, Zelensky appointed Oleksandr Poklad to head the SBU’s counterintelligence. A former lawyer and cop with ties to organized crime, Poklad is nicknamed “The Strangler” – ​​a reference to his favorite method of obtaining testimony from his victims. One article describes another torture method known as ‘The Elephant:’

“A gas mask is put on the victim of torture, and pepper tear gas from a spray can or a poisonous aerosol such as dichlorvos is launched into the gas mask hose. After such torture, an ordinary person confesses at least to the murder of John F. Kennedy.”

The United Nations and Amnesty International have both documented SBU torture prisons.

The SBU also closely collaborates with neo-Nazi groups including Right Sector, Azov, and C14, which was contracted by the Ukrainian government to conduct street patrols.

‘A small Guantanamo’

Inside the sports complex-turned temporary torture prison, Igor says the sack over his head was replaced with a blindfold, leaving him only he could only see his legs.

A Ukrainian businessman who had long worked in transportation logistics – including stints in Moscow – a story typical of many Ukrainians, since returning to Kiev, Igor had maintained business ties to Moscow and Crimea, which had joined the Russian Federation after a successful referendum in 2014.

Several family members, including his mother, live in Russia and he regularly visited them until relations between the two countries reached a boiling point in 2021. “With the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the events of February 24, my mother started to call me very often because she was very afraid of my status,” he told me.

Territorial Defense began to round up anyone suspected of sympathizing with Russia, as well as Ukrainians with cross-border ties, whether family or business.

Inside the makeshift prison, Igor says he identified 25 to 30 distinct voices of imprisoned men, and saw 10 to 12 men in Russian military uniforms, what he believes were prisoners of war. Two of the Russians were severely beaten in order to motivate the others to give on-camera testimony about their hate for Putin and opposition to the war.

Other detainees were religious people known for assembling at military installations to pray for peace and homeless people who had no way to abide by the evening curfew and were swept up by nighttime patrols.

While many of those inside the complex were kept for a couple of hours and released, others were severely beaten. “It was like a small Guantanamo,” Igor recalled.

Igor says that he was interrogated three times, with each session lasting between 15 and 30 minutes. The beatings were carried out by Territorial Defense volunteers while SBU officers instructed them on how to torture and asked him questions.

“They used a lighter to heat up a needle, then put it under my fingernails,” he told me. “The worst was when they put a plastic bag over my head and suffocated me and when they held the muzzle of a Kalashnikov rifle to my head and forced me to answer their questions.

But he says the suffering he endured was minor in comparison to the torture of the Russian prisoners of war, who were beaten with metal pipes while the Ukrainian national anthem played on repeat in the background. “I could hear it because all the torture was done in a nearby room. It was psychologically severe. This was done at night, the sounds of beatings were constant. It was difficult to sleep.”

Listening to conversations of other prisoners, Igor understood that two prisoners from Belarus were beaten to death, identifying one as a man named Sergey.

‘Like a Jew in Nazi Germany’

The existence of the torture prison was corroborated by an account I received from Andrey, a man with citizenship from Russia and a western European country (Andrey is also an alias to protect the identity of the source).

When he was first brought to the prison, Andrey recalls, he witnessed police beating what they told him was a Russian saboteur.

“It’s like mob justice, you know? You just find somebody that roughly fits the description and you take it out on him,” he said.

Tied to a chair, police repeatedly punched the man in the torso, the face, and back of the head as blood poured from his mouth.

“The police weren’t even interested in what he had to say. They would ask a question, he would start speaking slowly and they would hit him in the head,” he said. “They were taking out aggression and fear on him like a punching bag.”

Andrey says police threatened him with the same but he was spared because he held citizenship from a western European country. “I was told that If it wasn’t for my second passport, I’d be killed. I don’t know how much of that was to influence and scare me, or how much it was real,” he said.

During one interrogation, he says he was blindfolded, his hands were taped behind his back, and he was driven to an unknown location. After being taken into a building and up and down flights of stairs, he was thrown to the floor and kicked in the head.

Andrey recalls hearing ultra-nationalistic Ukrainian music in the prison. “Hard bass, electro, rock, rap – it was either to deprive us of sleep or to mask what was going on behind the music.”

Inside the prison, Andrey met Igor, who slept on an adjacent mat. He recalled being uncertain if Igor was an actual prisoner or if he was a plant that would attempt to extract information. In their brief exchanges, Andrey memorized a phone number Igor gave him and contacted him after he was released.

Andrey remains inside Ukrainian borders since his release, worried that the anti-Russia hysteria engulfing Ukraine could lead to his injury, or worse. “I’m like a Jew in Nazi Germany,” he told me.

The Ukraine Crisis with Dan Cohen and Scott Ritter

Dan Cohen is joined by former United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

Dan Cohen•Mar 1

They were very interested in his daily routine’

During Igor’s interrogation, SBU agents found contact information for his uncle, a former Soviet military officer. Believing that his uncle had influence in the Russian military, SBU agents called him to demand he facilitate an exchange of Igor for prisoners of the Snake Island incident.

When SBU agents found videos of Shariy on Igor’s phone, officers from a separate department were called in. From then on, they began to treat him better, removing his handcuffs and giving him larger quantities of food.

Igor’s connections to Shariy were minimal, limited to occasional contact via text message. In 2015, Shariy published a video about an incident in which Igor’s truck cargo was held for ransom by Aidar Battalion militants at a border crossing between Crimea and Ukraine.

Igor subsequently filmed interviews and events for Shariy, though they never met face to face. Nonetheless, SBU agents apparently saw Igor as an opportunity to gather sensitive information about Shariy’s habits.

Hours later, the chief officer came to interrogate him about materials and interviews he had worked on for Shariy. He was then given a blanket and allowed to sleep for two days.

After another interrogation, they instructed him to travel to Spain, where Shariy is taking refuge.  “Their main intention was that I would stay at Shariy’s side, assist him in preparing materials, and report to the officers what he is working on, what his status is, what his family is doing, what foods he eats, and where he shops. They were very interested in his daily routine, his movements, and people close to him. They wanted me to be as close as possible to him and at his side as often as possible.”

It was then that Igor realized Shariy’s life was in danger.

“As far as I understood, based on the information that I had to convey, the liquidation of Anatoly Shariy was being prepared, since he poses a danger to the government of Ukraine and criticizes the actions of the SBU, the government, and President Zelensky,” he told me.

The SBU told him an agent stationed in Spain would contact him after his arrival and provide him with further instructions.

Another department of the SBU notified his brother of his arrest, demanding a $1,000 bribe for his release. “For the SBU, this is just a way of making money. They were detaining people and asking for money in exchange,” he said. His brother paid the bribe on March 10, freeing Igor, though Igor’s car was confiscated as collateral. “There are many cases like this. They take civilian cars for the needs of SBU and the Ukrainian army.”

SBU agents had assured Igor that he would be able to pass through Ukrainian borders and enter the European Union, a nearly impossible task for Ukrainian males aged 18 to 60 who are subject to mandatory conscription.

After his release, Igor says he stayed in Kiev for ten days, resting and regaining his health. He then traveled to Transcarpathia, a region in Western Ukraine. Instead of following the orders of the SBU, Igor went to a different western European country. On April 2, he contacted Anatoly Shariy by email, informing him that he believes he is under threat.

“I warned Anatoliy Shariy that there could be an attempt to kill him in Spain.” Shariy understood that Igor’s call represented an extraordinary threat. “I was very tense with questions about the fact that he could be sent to me so that he could find out the places I visit, up to where I eat. The direction of these questions clearly indicates that they have the idea of ​​my physical elimination,” Shariy told me by email.

Now in an EU country, Igor is facing an uncertain future and is unable to return to Ukraine. “I am afraid, not only for my own life but for my relatives and my friends,” he says.

With opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, bruised and apparently beaten, in the custody of SBU, the threat against Shariy is clear. He continues to receive death threats against him and his family, sometimes 100 per day, he says.

Anatoly Shariy SBU threats
Left: “Look it’s your future.” Right: “I hope they will find you soon.” Screenshots courtesy of Anatoly Shariy

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

‘Case closed’ for the murdered Palestinian elderly near Ramallah

January 24, 2022

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

Details of the murder of the elderly Palestinian Omar Asaad near Ramallah after being assaulted by the Israeli occupation soldiers are revealed.

Omar Assaad was blindfolded, beaten, assaulted, and left to die

Israeli media revealed that the military prosecution will close the case investigating the martyrdom of the elderly Palestinian Omar Asaad near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, after being assaulted by the Israeli occupation soldiers.

Yedioth Ahronoth said the military prosecution will recommend closing the case file of five Israeli soldiers accused of causing his death “for lack of evidence,” as per its allegations.

The cold-blooded murder

It is circulated that five Israeli occupation soldiers deliberately arrested the elderly martyr Omar Asaad, who was in his eighties, from the village of Jiljilya, Ramallah District, on January 12. 

In the process, a temporary checkpoint was set up near the town, and Asaad’s vehicle was arbitrarily stopped. The elderly Palestinian man was blindfolded and taken to an abandoned house where he was severely beaten and assaulted before he was left lying on the ground in an under-construction building until he passed away.

The Israeli occupation claimed that the soldiers did not exercise excessive force against Assad, despite dragging him in the cold, although he suffers from several diseases, and deliberately covering his face and mouth with a piece of cloth, which caused him to suffocate.

Asaad’s body was discovered in Jiljilya in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with a black plastic zip-tie still brutally wrapped around one wrist.

The residents noticed someone lying lifeless on the ground, so they rushed toward him and took him to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah for treatment. However, tragically, Assad died before getting there.

Such inhumane crimes are being committed on daily basis against Palestinians by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF).

Case closed as if nothing has happened

The Israeli prosecution has recommended closing the case despite the US demands for clarification over what happened, considering that Asaad was a US citizen.

The US State Department had stated, following the murder, that Omar Abdul Majeed Asaad was a US citizen and that it had sought clarification from “Israel” over the incident. 

“We support a thorough investigation into the circumstances,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

Muslim Al-Muhsin: Another Innocent Victim Beheaded in the Saudi Kingdom of Blood

October 5, 2021

Muslim Al-Muhsin: Another Innocent Victim Beheaded in the Saudi Kingdom of Blood

By Staff

Rushing to fill this year’s bloody record of beheading its own nationals, Saudi Arabia executed a citizen from the al-Awamia Neighborhood in the Shia-populated Eastern Province of Qatif on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior identified the Saudi national as Muslim Mohammad al-Muhsin.

Al-Muhsin was brutally arrested from his workplace at al-Araf Commercial Center in the Saudi town of Awamia in the eastern province of Qatif on Monday, November 23rd, 2015.

The Saudi regime claimed that al-Muhsin “was behind the killing of Dhaifulla al-Qarashi, attempted to confront the security forces, and opened fire towards them.” During the arrest, the Saudi regime forces opened fire, shot him in his leg and arrested him, while unlike their narrative, no security personnel was harmed, even in the reports circulating by the regime’s media outlets.

Locals, however, who were present at the time of the arrest, indicated that more than 15 security personnel stormed the commercial center, moved towards al-Muhsin immediately and started beating him using batons and the bottoms of their machine guns. They even forced customers who were at the place to lie on the ground.

Without providing any evidence on the fabricated claims, the Saudi authorities neither identified were the incident took place, nor the weapon that was used by the alleged perpetrator.

Al-Muhsin was brutally tortured during his arrest, not to mention the pain he had been through as the regime arrested him without removing the bullet he sustained in his left leg during the raid. He was also deprived from the right to assign a lawyer in a grave violation of human rights, as well as local and international laws.

After several delays of the show trial sessions, the Appellate Court of the Specialized Criminal Court decided to sentence al-Muhsin to death, in yet another brutal measure of many similar Saudi regime measures consistently targeting the people of the kingdom’s Shia-populated region.

The sentence was executed after the non-proved guilty citizen had spent almost six years behind bars, where only God knows what kind of treatment he had been through.

199 Rights Groups Urge Protection for Rearrested Palestinian Inmates

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

199 Rights Groups Urge Protection for Rearrested Palestinian Inmates

By Staff, Agencies

Nearly 200 human rights organizations have held the Zionist entity fully responsible for the lives and safety of six prisoners who tunneled their way out of a maximum security Zionist detention center earlier this month and were arrested later.

A total of 199 organizations, in a joint statement released on Monday, called for the formation of an independent international investigation committee to immediately look into the conditions of their detention.

“According to the testimony of lawyers, ‘Israeli’ occupation forces assaulted them harshly from the moment of arrest, causing multiple bodily injuries. The injuries necessitated hospitalization of some of them as they had been subjected to unjustified violence and torture,” the statement read.

“They are deprived of sleep, and have been interrogated after complete sleep deprivation, according to available information. Interrogators have made death threats against some of them, and their relatives have also been arbitrarily arrested for the purposes of revenge.”

The human rights organizations stressed that the mistreatment of the prisoners amounts to a violation of international and humanitarian principles.

They demanded the “urgent formation of an independent, impartial and honest international investigation committee to examine circumstances surrounding the arrest of the six Palestinian prison escapees, and to hold the perpetrators of violations to account.”

The organizations called upon Arab nations and expatriates to advocate for Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Zionist occupation jails, and to raise their cause through social media platforms.

The rights organizations asked the Hague-based International Criminal Court to prosecute ‘Israeli’ prison officials responsible for the torture of Palestinian detainees.

They urged the Arab League and its bodies to support Palestinian prisoners, and to activate effective mechanisms at the international level.

The rights organizations stressed that UN special rapporteurs, especially Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory Michael Lynk, should actively shed light on the Zionist entity’s systematic torture of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and take the matter to the United Nations.

On Sunday, the Zionist occupation forces arrested the two remaining prisoners, who had escaped from Gilboa Prison more than two weeks ago.

A former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin and five Islamic Jihad members had tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system and escaped from the prison on September 6.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Zionist jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

Enforced Disappearance: A Crime against Humanity Systematically Practiced by Saudi Arabia

August 31, 2021

Enforced Disappearance: A Crime against Humanity Systematically Practiced by Saudi Arabia

By the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, which is commemorated every year on August 30, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that, despite being “strictly prohibited by international human rights law in all circumstances, enforced disappearances continue to be used worldwide as a means of repression, intimidation and stifling opposition. Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition and human rights defenders are at particular risk of enforced disappearance,” he said. “This deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, accountability, justice and reparations.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia practices enforced disappearance, on a large scale, especially against political detainees and opinion-makers through blatant circumvention and evasion. Most families of the victims are unaware of the fate of their relatives, after they have been detained on the street or in their workplaces, because they have been deprived the right to communicate with them and have no access to a lawyer.

In many cases, after a forced disappearance, that last for hours or days, officials at General Investigation Prisons allow the disappeared person a brief contact to inform his family of his whereabouts, only to return and disappear for periods lasting a year or more, during which he is tortured and denied the right to communicate with the outside world or access a lawyer.

In other cases, enforced disappearance extends without any information about the victim’s whereabouts or the reason for the arrest, for months or years. In light of Saudi Arabia’s intimidation policy against activists and human rights defenders.

The European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights documented the Saudi Arabian government’s use of enforced disappearance as a prelude to torture, extracting confessions, and in many cases the use of these confessions to issue death sentences.

Enforced disappearance is defined, according to the article II of the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of individuals acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which deprives him of the protection of the law”.

During 2021, ESOHR monitored the practice of enforced disappearance by the security services against a number of detainees, including activists:

Abdullah al-Mubaraki:

On July 22, 2021, Al-Mabaheth forces arrested online activist Abdullah bin Awad al-Mubaraki from his home in Yanbu. The family does not officially know the reason for the arrest and news broke from the moment of the arrest. Despite attempts by the family to find out where he is, and to verify his whereabouts from the prisons of Yanbu, Medina and Jeddah, they have been unable to reach him. However, activists believe that the reason for his arrest stems from his expression of opinion, his participation in campaigns on social media to defend political and civil rights, and his opposition to government policies.

Lina al-Sharif

In late May 2021, officials from the Saudi State Security Presidency raided the Sharif family’s home in Riyadh, arresting Dr. Lina al-Sharif and taking her to an unknown location. Before her arrest, al-Sharif had been active on social media, discussing Saudi politics and defending human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah

On May 12, 2021, State Security forces arrested Abdullah Jilan, in Medina, after it stormed his mother’s house and searched him before taking him to an unknown location. Jilan was active on Twitter, calling for his right to work and fundamental freedoms in Saudi Arabia. So far, his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Najla Abd El-Aziz:

Saudi security forces arrested activist Najla Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Marwan on July 20, 2021, from her home in the capital al-Riyadh. Najla is a young divorced woman and a mother of two children. According to reports, Saudi Arabia is still forcibly hiding her after more than a month in detention, and the family has no information about her.

Najla’s Twitter account shows that she welcomed and supported the call to demonstrate in conjunction with Arafa Day. A group of activists launched a hashtag called #Arafat_Day_protest, and called for participation in a campaign against the government’s policies and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the goal of calling for the release of detainees, in addition to enabling young people’s right to employment, tax removal, and more.

ESOHR also monitored other arbitrary arrests. Local sources said victims were also subjected to enforced disappearance, including Sheikh Abdullah al-Shihri, who was arrested for tweets criticizing statements made by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Among those reported missing are Reina Abdulaziz and Yasmine al-Ghafili.

Continuous Enforced Disappearances:

In addition, Saudi Arabia regularly hides individuals, with no information on their whereabouts for years.

In April 2016, preacher Suleiman al-Darwish disappeared during his visit to Mecca. His family does not know any details about the arrest or its reasons nor has it been officially informed of any information about his whereabouts. However, the Ministry of Interior posted his name on its website, which is dedicated to identifying the names and status of detainees. The statement indicated that he was “under investigation”, but his name was removed after a while.

Al-Darwish is still missing and despite the request from the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances for official information from Saudi Arabia on his whereabouts, his whereabouts remain unknown.”

Human rights organizations that received information in May 2012 confirmed to them that Al-Duwaish was transferred directly to the office of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman after his arrest, where he beat him.

In August 2015, the Saudi government announced the arrest of Ahmad al-Mughassil in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Since his arrest six years ago, the family has not been able to contact him or to know his whereabouts. Although Saudi Arabia announced the arrest, it did not announce where he was being held or the charges he is officially facing. Information the family received about the possible murder or death under torture raised concerns that the family could not get any information about his condition since his arrest.

In January 2020, Saudi security forces arrested Mohammed Al Ammar during a military raid in Qatif. The Saudi government announced the arrest of Ammar, who had been on wanted lists for years, but the family was unable to find out where he was, and they did not allow him any visits. In light of information about his severe injury during the arrest. Al-Ammar was not offered a trial, unless his whereabouts were known to be in enforced disappearance.

Hide as an introduction to unfair judgments:

Besides the cases in which individuals are still forcibly disappeared, detainees face harsh sentences, sometimes up to death, despite being subjected to enforced disappearance at the time of arrest. Among them is Mohammed Al-Shakhouri, who was forcibly disappeared by the Saudi government for three days after his arrest, and who was then able to communicate with his family in brief call, not being able to know what he was exposed to for eight months. The organization has also monitored executions of detainees including minors, despite violations there were subjected to including enforced disappearances, such as Abdelkrim al-Hawaj.

According to ESOHR, the Saudi government uses enforced disappearance for a variety of reasons. While in many cases concealment is used as a prelude to torture in order to extract confessions, it is used for reprisal motives that refuse to disclose definitively the status and location of the person forcibly disappeared and to intimidate the community and families.

The organization maintains that Saudi Arabia, through its practice of enforced disappearance, is committing a “crime against humanity” violating its domestic and international laws. And it recalls that no justification for the continuation of this crime can be invoked, as affirmed in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or the threat of war, internal political instability or any other exception, may be invoked to justify enforced disappearance.”

Data Leak Raises New Questions over Capture of Princess Latifa

July 22, 2021

Data Leak Raises New Questions over Capture of Princess Latifa

By Staff, The Guardian

For a few days Princess Latifa had dared to think she could relax. An extraordinary plan to escape from a father she said had once ordered her “constant torture” was looking as if it might work, as she sat on a 30-metre yacht on the Indian Ocean, her home city of Dubai further and further away.

Yet the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of the glittering Emirati city, still wanted to connect with home, to tell family and friends something of her new-found freedom, sending emails, WhatsApp messages and posting on Instagram from what she thought were two secure, brand new “burner” pay-as-you-go mobile phones.

It was a decision that may have had fateful consequences, according to analysis by the Pegasus project.

At the height of the escape drama, it can now be revealed, the mobile numbers for Latifa and some of her friends back home appeared on a database at the heart of the investigation.

It raises the possibility that a government client of the NSO Group was drawing up possible candidates for some sort of surveillance.

It was late February 2018, and Princess Latifa, then 32, had been desperate to flee her father’s emirate for many years. She had made a “very, very naive” first attempt in 2002, arranging to be driven across the border to neighbouring Oman, but was easily recaptured. This time she hoped it was different, but had prepared for the worst.

When planning her second escape, Latifa had prepared a video to be released online if the latest effort was foiled, explaining why she wanted to quit home. In it, Latifa described how she was beaten and tortured between 2002 and 2005, during which time she was also forcibly injected with sedatives, and once told by her captors: “Your father told us to beat you until we kill you.”

They were extraordinary claims of abuse that were accepted as truthful in a fact-finding judgment from an English judge, part of a custody battle between Sheikh Mohammed and his sixth and former wife, Princess Haya, over their two young children. Part of that continuing case turns on how Dubai’s ruler treated some of his other children, although after the fact-finding ruling, Sheikh Mohammed insisted it had only told “one side of the story”.

Alongside Latifa on the Nostromo was her best friend and confidant, a Finn with a taste for adventure, Tiina Jauhiainen. She had first met the princess at the end of 2010, when she was asked to become her fitness instructor, and had become so close that the princess asked for her help to get out of the country, in an elaborate scheme worthy of a film.

Also on board was Herve Jaubert, a former French spy, who was captaining the vessel. It was Jaubert who had devised the yacht end of the escape plan after Latifa recruited him – Jauhiainen later told a London court he was paid €350,000 – after she had come across a book he had written about escaping from Dubai, after a business deal he was involved in ran into trouble nearly a decade before.

Latifa and Jauhiainen believed their communications, via the yacht’s satellite uplink, were secure.

They had taken some precautions: Jaubert had turned the ship’s tracking device off and their phones were new, with brand new sim cards.

Latifa and Jauhiainen began their escape at 7am on 24 February from downtown Dubai. The princess’s driver had dropped her off to meet her friend for breakfast, then Latifa changed clothes in the cafe’s bathroom, where she ditched her normal mobile phone, leaving it on silent in the bathroom and went on the run.

Likening themselves to the ill-fated Thelma and Louise, the duo drove six hours to Muscat in neighboring Oman. There with the help of Christian Elombo, a former French soldier and a friend of both women, they made a difficult journey by dinghy and jetski, 13 miles out into the ocean to international waters, where Jaubert and the Nostromo were waiting.

Meanwhile, back in Dubai the hunt for the missing princess had started. A day later, on 25 February, Latifa’s phone appeared in the leaked data list, by Dubai’s doing, it is thought, although not much may have been gleaned, given that it had been left behind in the cafe.

Elombo and his friend, who were supposed to leave Oman, were picked up a day later and questioned by the authorities on behalf of the neighboring state. Realizing contact with Elombo had been lost, and becoming a little more nervous, Latifa and Jauhiainen revised their plan. They had intended to go to Sri Lanka, from where Latifa would fly to the US to claim asylum, but instead they opted to land in India.

Yet, it did not appear to matter much, because for the first four days at sea, until 28 February, there was nobody on their tail. Latifa and Jauhiainen were thrilled to have made it, although conditions were not luxurious: there was an ever-expanding number of cockroaches onboard and, apart from watching a few bad movies, there was not much to do. Inevitably they ended up spending time on their phones.

On the same day, 28 February, the numbers of some of her friends began appearing on the list that is determined to have come from Dubai.

At home, one of Latifa’s few freedoms had been skydiving; she had jumped frequently with Jauhiainen among others. But it was other members of the daredevil club whose numbers were being added to the list in the days that followed, including Juan Mayer, a photographer who regularly took pictures of the princess mid-air, which formed the basis of a short magazine feature.

The data indicates other numbers began to appear too: those of Lynda Bouchiki, an events manager, and, more significantly, Sioned Taylor, a Briton who lived in Dubai, working as a maths teacher in a girls’ school. Taylor, too had been a member of the skydiving club.

Both Bouchiki and Taylor had known Latifa from acting as chaperones prior to her flight. After she had been released from prison, the princess was never allowed out of home unsupervised; friends of the princess say that Taylor, in particular, had also become a close friend.

On the Nostromo, Jauhiainen, who spoke to the Guardian in April, remembers Latifa messaging both Taylor and Bouchiki. The latter did not reply, but she clearly remembers that the princess was chatting with Taylor while they were onboard. At one point Latifa even became suspicious, saying: “I’m not sure this is Sioned,” but the communications continued.

What that signified precisely is unclear, but what the database shows is that Taylor’s mobile phone was listed repeatedly – on 1 and 2 March and again on the day Latifa was to be captured, 4 March. Bouchiki’s number appeared again, on 2 March.

Without forensic examination of phones, it is not possible to say whether any attempt was made to infect the devices, or whether any infection attempt was successful.

But at sea, the situation had changed, ominously. Jaubert says it was on 1 March, a day after Latifa’s friends and family were first targeted that he first noticed the first ship following the Nostromo, curiously taking the same route and following at the same speed. Spotter planes followed soon after that.

It was clear they had been picked up by the Indian coastguard. The captain became increasingly nervous, also emailing a campaign group, Detained in Dubai, worrying that he might run out of fuel as he chose to head towards the Indian port city of Goa, and seeking their help. But they were never to arrive.

After 10pm on 4 March, about 30 miles offshore, in an operation authorized by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, at the request of Dubai, around 15 Indian commandos in “full military gear” stormed the yacht, firing stun grenades to incapacitate those onboard.

Latifa and Jauhiainen panicked, running below deck and locking themselves in the bathroom in a desperate attempt not to be seized. Latifa frantically rang Radha Stirling from Detained in Dubai, who said the princess was “frightened, hiding, that there were men outside and that she heard gunfire” on the emergency call.

But the two women had to give themselves up, as smoke poured in through the bathroom vents. They were captured and dragged to the deck, and according to Jauhiainen, Latifa was screaming, in English: “Shoot me here, don’t take me back” as she was dragged off, handed over to waiting Emirati forces, tranquillized and returned to Dubai.

Dubai did not respond to a request for comment. Sheikh Mohammed did not respond, although it is understood he denies having attempted to hack the phones of Latifa or her friends or associates, or ordering others to do so. He has also previously said he feared Latifa was a victim of a kidnapping and that he had conducted “a rescue mission”.

NSO denies the leaked list of numbers is that of “Pegasus targets or potential targets” and says the numbers are not related to the company in any way. Claiming that a name on the list is “is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or potential target is erroneous and false”.

Jauhiainen and Jaubert were released after a short period of detention, with the Finn relocating to London. Latifa was held under house arrest back home, and after a while managed to smuggle out fresh videos to Jauhiainen to tell more about her plight. “I’m a hostage. I am not free. I’m enslaved in this jail,” she angrily said.

But in the past three months there has been a notable change, involving two of the women Latifa tried to message from the boat. In May, Taylor posted a picture on Instagram of Latifa, sitting in a Dubai shopping mall, with her and Bouchiki, to show she was enjoying a degree of freedom at home.

Then, in June a picture followed of Latifa inside Madrid’s main airport, indicating she had been able to travel abroad. “I hope now that I can live my life in peace without further media scrutiny,” the princess said in a statement released by her lawyers, suggesting after the years of conflict some sort of accommodation with her father had been reached.

With the passage of time, it may never be possible to establish definitively how Latifa was recaptured at gunpoint.

NSO said that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.

Palestinians protest death of activist Nizar Banat in PA police custody

Death of prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority has unleashed anger at President Mahmoud Abbas

Protesters hold photos of Nizar Banat, who died in the custody of Palestinian Authority security forces, during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)

By Shatha Hammad in Ramallah, occupied West BankPublished date: 24 June 2021 11:40 UTC | Last update: 8 hours 33 mins ago

Protesters took to the streets in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, facing police repression following the death of prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Nizar Banat overnight while in the custody of PA forces.

In Ramallah, the administrative centre of the PA, thousands of demonstrators chanted: “In soul, in blood, we defend you Nizar.”

Many other slogans took direct aim at the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas, with chants including: “The people want the downfall of the regime,” and “Leave, leave Abbas.”

PA forces hit demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades in Ramallah.

A member of Palestinian Authority forces wields a baton during the demonstration in memory of Nizar Banat in Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)
A member of Palestinian Authority forces wields a baton during the demonstration in memory of Nizar Banat in Ramallah on 24 June 2021 (MEE/Shatha Hammad)

Banat was arrested by at least 25 officers, who raided his home in the town of Dura in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, at 3.30am on Thursday. He was declared dead shortly afterward.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that Banat was severely beaten with several bruises and fractures showing all over his body, Samir Zaarour, a doctor who oversaw the autopsy, said on Thursday.

The Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights revealed the autopsy results at a news conference in Ramallah on Thursday.

Zaarour said Banat had injuries in the head, neck, shoulders as well as broken ribs and internal bleeding in the lungs – signs indicative of an unnatural death – stressing that the victim did not suffer from any serious medical condition that would otherwise lead to his death.

Full autopsy and toxicology reports, expected to be available within 10 days, will definitively determine the cause of death.

‘Dangerous precedent’

Ammar Al-Dwaik, the general director of the commission, described the death of Banat a “dangerous precedent” against a political dissident, calling for a criminal investigation into the incident that would refer the perpetrators of the killing to trial.

Banat was well known for his criticism of the PA leadership and had been arrested several times in the past by Palestinian security forces. He was also a candidate on the Freedom and Dignity electoral list for the Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections, which had initially been scheduled for 22 May, but were postponed by the PA.

Human rights organisations and Palestinian factions have called for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Banat’s death – which, according to Mohannad Karajah, a member of the Palestinian Lawyers for Justice group, amounted to an “assassination”.

PA officials announced on Thursday afternoon that Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had ordered an investigation committee – led by Minister of Justice Mohammad Shalaldeh and including a physician appointed by the Banat family, a human rights official, and a security official – into Banat’s death.

But Omar Assaf, a member of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau, dismissed outright the credibility of an investigation led by the PA.

“There needs to be a popular investigation committee established, not an official committee, because a popular committee will uncover the truth,” he told Middle East Eye.

He referred to the case of Majd al-Barghouthi, who died in PA custody in 2008, only for an official investigation to clear security forces of wrongdoing.

“In the case of Majd al-Barghouthi, they concluded that he was a chain smoker, when he had never smoked once in his life,” Assaf said. “These are the official investigation committees.”

‘Palestinian law protects the occupation’

Speaking at the demonstration in Ramallah, Assaf added: “This is a continuation of the Dayton [Mission] creed, which was adopted by the PA and its security apparatus, that the people are the enemy of the state. There must be the dismissal of heads of the security branches, and the criminals responsible for killing Nizar Banat should be brought to court.”

The PA was established in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and initially intended to be an interim governing body until the establishment of a fully-fledged Palestinian state.

But with a two-state solution never materialising, the PA – which exerts only limited control over Areas A and B, which make up around 40 percent of the West Bank – has long been accused by many Palestinians of being an extension of the Israeli occupation.

The PA’s security coordination with Israel is a principal target of anger. The policy, through which PA forces are in regular contact with Israeli forces, has meant PA police may withdraw from areas ahead of an Israeli army raid, or arrest Palestinians wanted by Israel.

“Palestinian law protects the occupation, but we want it to protect the Palestinian people,” Maher al-Akhras, a leader of the Islamic Jihad movement in the West Bank, told MEE from the Ramallah protest.Abbas critic Nizar Banat dies after raid on his home by PA forces

Akhras, who was released from Israeli prison in November following a 103-day hunger strike against his administrative detention, drew a parallel between Banat’s death and the killing of another prominent Palestinian activist, Basel al-Araj, in March 2017.

Araj had been one of six activists imprisoned and tortured by the PA for six months in 2016. Most of them were arrested by Israeli forces shortly after their release by the PA, while Araj went into hiding for months, only to later be killed in a standoff with Israeli forces. The PA had been widely denounced at the time as complicit in Araj’s death due to its security coordination.

The PA has also been criticised for its crackdown on political opposition and social media users in the West Bank through draconian legislation on social media posts. Abbas, meanwhile, has been in power since 2005. Though his term as president officially ended in 2009, the PA has not held presidential elections in 16 years.

In addition to legislative elections, a presidential vote initially scheduled for 31 July was postponed in April, with the voting rights of Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem cited as a reason. Critics of Abbas have accused the president of using Jerusalem’s right to vote as an excuse to avoid the election due to the popularity of Hamas, the main rival party to his own Fatah movement.

The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington was “disturbed” by Banat’s death.

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure full accountability in this case,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. 

“We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations.”

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شهادات لمعتقلين لدى السلطة الفلسطينيّة: تعرّضنا لتعذيب وشتائم للمقاومة في غزة!

09/06/2021

كشفت شهادات لمعتقلين سياسيين أفرج عنهم مؤخراً من سجون قوات السلطة الأمنية، عن تعرّضهم لتعذيب وإهانات على خلفية مشاركتهم في تظاهرات وفعاليات داعمة للمقاومة في غزة، خلال الهبة الشعبية الأخيرة، التي تزامنت مع معركة «سيف القدس».

وأدلى عدد من المعتقلين السياسيين بشهادات عن إجبار المحققين لهم على شتم المقاومة، وتوجيه إهانات لهم خلال التحقيق لمشاركتهم في الفعاليات الشعبية، المناصرة لغزة، والتي هتفت لكتائب القسام، وأبوعبيدة ومحمد ضيف.

وفي شهادة نقلتها عائلته، قال المعتقل السياسي مصطفى الخواجا، من بلدة نعلين غرب رام الله، إن «المحققين أجبروه على شتم شخصيات من المقاومة في غزة، مثل الناطق باسم كتائب القسام أبو عبيدة وغيره».

وأفرج عن الخواجا، أول أمس، بعد 17 يوماً من الاعتقال تعرّض خلالها للتعذيب والشبح، وفقاً لعائلته، التي كشفت أن «الضباط خلال التحقيق وجّهوا إهانات له وشتائم للمقاومة واستخفافاً بإنجازها في المعركة».

وفي السياق، أدلى المعتقل السياسي أكرم سلمة بشهادة حول تعرّضه للتعذيب والإهانات، خلال اعتقاله لمدة 16 يوماً في سجن اللجنة الأمنية في أريحا.

وكشف أن التهمة التي اعتقلته أجهزة السلطة عليها، كانت التنظيم والمشاركة في مسيرات داعمة للمقاومة في غزة، خلال معركة «سيف القدس».

وأشار إلى أن المحققين تعمّدوا خلال التحقيق معه توجيه شتائم للمقاومة وقادتها، وعبارات مثل «تظنون أنكم انتصرتم؟ سنعيد تربيتكم من جديد؟».

من جانبه، أكد المحامي مهند كراجة من مجموعة «محامون من أجل العدالة»، توثيق ادعاءات تعذيب من جانب عدد من النشطاء الذين اعتقلوا في حملة الاعتقالات الأخيرة التي نفذتها الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية، بعد الهبّة الشعبية والمعركة في غزة.

وقال إنه تم توثيق ما قاله المعتقلون حول تعرّضهم للتعذيب أمام محكمة الصلح والنيابة، التي قالت إنها ستفتح تحقيقاً بذلك، بعد الفحص من قبل طبيب شرعيّ.

وحول توثيق توجيه إهانات للمقاومة خلال التحقيق، أشار إلى أن مجموعة لم توثق هذه الشهادات بعد، نظراً للانشغال بمتابعة ملفات المعتقلين في الحملة، وستقوم بذلك لاحقاً.

وقال كراجة، إن المجموعة تتابع حالياً ثمانية معتقلين سياسيين، معظمهم محتجز لدى اللجنة الأمنية في أريحا.

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

20/4/2021

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

By Staff, Agencie

Bahrain’s top cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim stressed that “Drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit kingdom.”

He further called on urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing the dissidents.

“Since the people do not find anything to persuade themselves to stop their protest movement and are witnessing a surge in the [regime’s] policy of repression, dictatorship and marginalization, they are pressing ahead with their uprising, whatever the cost may be,” Sheikh Qassim said in a statement released on Monday and carried by the Bahrain Mirror news website.

His Eminence further highlighted: “There would be no way out of the current situation unless the government reaches an agreement with the opposition to draw up a new constitution and found relevant institutions so as to protect the citizens’ rights and recognize their sovereign position in the country’s politics.”

The senior cleric pointed out that “Reforms must be undertaken at a pace satisfactory to the public and must guarantee the authority, dignity, comfort, security and interests of all.”

This comes as Bahrain’s crackdown continues in Ramadan as regime forces attack political inmates in Jaw prison.  “There is a serious political and legal crisis in Bahrain, the consequences of which will be dangerous for both the nation and the government itself,” he stated.

He denounced the Manama regime over the “absurd” policy of putting more people behind bars, saying such a practice will not even benefit the “unjust political goal” being pursued by the Al-Khalifah regime.

“If the purpose of populating prisons with thousands of inmates is to tone down the demands for political and civil rights to mere calls for the release of prisoners, the calls among the prisoners themselves for the nation’s rights [to be guaranteed] will definitely thwart such a conspiracy,” Sheikh Qassem confirmed.

“The people of Bahrain are well aware of the fact that the solution to the country’s crisis lies only in a genuine improvement of the situation and establishment of a political relationship between the nation and the government on the basis of new and viable principles,” His Eminence elaborated.


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Isolated and Alone. Palestinian Children Held in Solitary Confinement by Israeli Authorities for Interrogation

By Defense for Children International – Palestine

Global Research, December 04, 2020

Defense for Children International – Palestine 1 December 2020

Between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) documented 108 cases in which Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli military were held in isolation for two or more days during the interrogation period.

The average duration of isolation in this data set was 14.3 days. Nearly 40 percent, 43 children, endured a prolonged period of isolation of 16 or more days. While mainly studying adult prisoner populations, numerous scientific sources indicate that after 15 days “some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.”1

The longest documented period of isolation was 30 days, while the shortest was three days. Quteiba B. was 16 years old when he was arrested on September 23, 2018, and was subjected to 30 days of isolation in Israel’s Asqalan interrogation and detention center, located inside Israel. The 108 children whose cases were documented by DCIP were all boys aged between 14 and 17 years old, of whom 70 were aged 17, 30 were aged 16, seven were aged 15, and one was aged 14.

The children were accused of a range of offenses by Israeli authorities, predominantly throwing stones, Molotov cocktails or grenades; 76 children in the data set were accused of such offenses. A further 22 children were accused of weapons possession, and 10 children were accused of involvement with a military cell. Other accusations ranged from incitement on Facebook and plotting an attack, to membership in a banned organization or aiding a wanted individual.

Of the 108 cases, some children were detained at multiple locations, however, at least 52 children were held at Al-Jalame (also known as Kishon) interrogation and detention center; at least 29 children were held at Petah Tikva interrogation and detention center; at least 32 were held at Megiddo prison and at least 14 were held at Al-Mascobiyya interrogation and detention center in Jerusalem. These facilities are located inside Israel, and all are operated or controlled by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and the Israel Security Agency. Palestinian children are often transferred between centers during a period of detention.

Solitary confinement of children under international law

International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against children, defined as any person under 18 years old.3 The practice of solitary confinement, in addition to corporal punishment, placement in a dark cell, or any other punishment that may compromise the physical or mental health of the child may, in some cases, amount to torture.4

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez, has noted “[t]here is no universally agreed upon definition of solitary confinement.”5 However, solitary confinement generally refers to the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, without meaningful human contact.6

In a 2016 statement, Mr. Méndez defined the types of human interaction that may constitute meaningful contact. “Isolation entails the lack of meaningful social contact for the detainee, whether by means of interaction with other inmates or penitentiary staff, visits, or participation in work, educational, and leisure activities, or sports. [ . . . ] The international law of human rights mandates significant human contact both within and outside of prison, including with fellow prisoners and with prison staff not strictly dedicated to security functions.”7

International law recognizes that children are inherently different from adults because they are still developing both physically and psychologically. Consequently, children are afforded special protections under international law, and the threshold for actions constituting grave human rights violations is lowered when the victim is a child. For example, the prohibition against torture is one of few absolute and non-derogable human rights standards. It applies to any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on any person for a number of reasons.8 However, the victim’s age and relative position of inferiority must be taken into consideration when assessing whether treatment or punishment may be classified as torture.9

Specifically, “[c]hildren experience pain and suffering differently to adults owing to their physical and emotional development and their specific needs. In children, ill-treatment may cause even greater or irreversible damage than for adults. Moreover, healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body, with damaging long-term effects on learning, behaviour and health.”10Year-in-Review: Worst Abuses Against Palestinian Children in 2017

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, require that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort, must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, and must not be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Israel’s human rights obligations apply not only inside Israel, but also extend to the territory it occupies, including the Occupied Palestinian Territory.11

In 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez, called for an absolute prohibition on the use of solitary confinement on children, in a report submitted to the U.N. General Assembly.12

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child considers the solitary confinement of children, for any duration, to be cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and, in some cases, even torture.13

Mr. Méndez has stipulated that even the use of solitary confinement for the stated purpose of separating juveniles or other vulnerable detainees from segments of a prison population is “unjustified unless they actually request protection.”14

DCIP finds that the physical and social isolation of Palestinian children for interrogation purposes, without their explicit request or consent, during pre-charge and pretrial military detention by Israeli authorities, and where there is limited or no meaningful human contact, is a practice that constitutes solitary confinement. DCIP considers the aforementioned practice by Israeli authorities to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

While Israeli officials consistently argue that international human rights law, specifically the treaties Israel has ratified, does not apply to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, these arguments have found no international support and have been consistently rejected by the International Court of Justice and several U.N. human rights treaty bodies when assessing Israel’s obligations under international law toward Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.15

Solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes

Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicates that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation.

DCIP has found no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons.

The practice has been used, almost exclusively, during pre-charge and pretrial detention. The practice is not generally employed after children have been convicted and are serving their sentences.

Isolation of Palestinian children typically follows a military arrest and transfer period, during which many children are subjected to numerous human rights violations.

While in isolation, the children experience minimal human contact and also commonly report significantly worse cell conditions compared to the cells in which they were placed during other periods of detention.

Almost all interrogations of Palestinian children held in isolation are carried out without prior consultation with or the presence of a lawyer or a family member. Further, children are often exposed to abuse and torture during interrogations.

Coercive tactics, including the use of informants, are frequently used and may cause children to unintentionally incriminate themselves or to issue false confessions.

Arrest and transfer

Israeli forces frequently arrest Palestinian children at night. In 71 out of 108 cases (66 percent), children held in solitary confinement reported being detained from their homes between midnight and 5 a.m. by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces typically gather all the occupants of the house, regardless of age, in one area or room and demand identification.
Physical violence against family members, including other children in the home, is common. Generally, Israeli forces
separate the wanted child from his family within the home for questioning and to confirm his identity. Some children report
being subject to physical and verbal abuse and intimidation. Israeli forces often search the home during the raid resulting in
the destruction of property. Mobile phones and other items are confiscated during the raids. Once a child’s identity has been verified, Israeli forces detain and take the child into custody, removing them from the home.

Children and their families are rarely informed of the reasons for arrest, or the location where the child will be detained.

In almost all cases, children’s hands are tied behind their backs with plastic cords, often to their discomfort, rather than standard metal handcuffs, and most are blindfolded. In the solitary confinement cases documented by DCIP, all 108 children had their hands bound, and 102 out of 108 children (94 percent) were blindfolded during their arrest and transfer.

Children are also subjected to verbal and physical abuse and intimidation when taken to a military vehicle. Once inside, they are often forced to sit on the floor, bound and blindfolded, and surrounded by Israeli forces, where this abuse often continues. In 77 out of 108 cases (71 percent), children endured some form of physical violence following arrest.

They are subsequently transferred to a military base or directly to an interrogation facility.

Isolation and cell conditions

Palestinian child detainees are held in solitary confinement at detention facilities located inside Israel. These facilities include Petah Tikva interrogation and detention center in central Israel, near Tel Aviv; Al-Jalame interrogation and detention center (Kishon) in northern Israel, near Haifa; and Al-Mascobiyya interrogation and detention center in Jerusalem.

Across these locations, children reported significantly worse cell conditions during periods of isolation compared to other periods of detention in which they were not isolated. The conditions in isolation cells are commonly characterised by inadequate ventilation, 24-hour yellow lighting, no windows, unsanitary bedding and toilet facilities and hostile architectural features such as wall protrusions.

Children describe being held in isolation in a small cell measuring approximately 5 feet by 6.5 feet (1.5 meters by 2 meters). The children report either sleeping on a concrete bed, on the floor, or on a thin mattress that is often described as “dirty” and “foul smelling.” There are no windows and no natural light. The only source of light comes from a dim yellow bulb that is reportedly kept on at all hours. Meals are passed to children through a flap in the door. Cell walls are reported to be gray in color with sharp or rough protrusions that are painful to lean against. Children frequently report that the paint of the cell walls and the lighting inside hurt their eyes.

No meaningful human contact

During isolation, Palestinian children have limited or no meaningful social contact. This includes an absence of access to rehabilitative, educational, recreational and therapeutic activities or services.

Palestinian children held in isolation solely for interrogation purposes are denied access to family visits. Typically, these children experience limited contact only with facility guards, interrogators and informants. Meals are passed to children through a flap in the door, leaving children with virtually no non-adversarial or meaningful human contact.

Palestinian children who are not detained in isolation are transferred to military courts where a military judge may extend their detention, and at which they may see their parents and a lawyer. However, Palestinian children held in isolation solely for interrogation purposes have their detention extended by military judges at the detention facility itself; further forestalling contact between children and their families and lawyers.

Read full report here.

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Featured image is an illustration by DCI-PThe original source of this article is Defense for Children International – PalestineCopyright © Defense for Children International – PalestineDefense for Children International – Palestine, 2020

Saudi Arabia’s abominable human rights record

November 30, 2020 – 11:33

By Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman is an American award-winning author, syndicated columnist, and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Like the U.S., Israel, and other rogue states, the Saudis operate by their own rules in flagrant violation of international laws, norms, and standards. It’s the world’s head-chopping/public whippings capital. Anyone can be targeted for exercising free expression, human rights activism, or other forms of dissent against despotic rule.

They’re also vulnerable for not praying at designated times, improper dress code, non-observance of gender segregation, and other nonconformity with Wahhabi extremism.

Its documented high crimes include state-sponsored murder, torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups, partnering in U.S. regional wars, banning free elections, denying due process and judicial fairness, prohibiting religious freedom, human trafficking, kidnappings, committing crimes of war and against humanity, along with virtually every other rule of law breach imaginable.

In mid-November, the London Daily Mail reported the following: “Saudi interrogators forced jailed women’s rights activists to perform sex acts, hung them from ceilings and ‘tortured’ them with electric shocks,” citing a report, titled: “A Stain on World Leaders and the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia: The shameful detention and torture of Saudi women.”

The report explained that in May 2018, “10 human rights defenders who had successfully campaigned” to end the prohibition against women driving were arrested and detained. 

Weeks later, nine more arrests and detentions followed. Targeted individuals were activists for women’s rights in the kingdom. A few are males who support gender equality were also arrested. Most individuals targeted remain detained. It was learned that they were “subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention, solitary confinement, and unfair trial processes.”

In the report, human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy called on G20 nations to boycott the virtual November 21-22 Riyadh summit until wrongfully detained women are free. Other charges included forcing them to watch pornography, along with performing other sexual acts on interrogators.

One detained woman was reportedly told: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.” Another woman said Saudi King Salman’s younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, oversaw what went on, at one point saying:  “I can do anything I like to you.”

Commenting on her report, Baroness Kennedy said horrendous abuses endured by detained women in the kingdom wouldn’t be tolerated in “decent nation(s),” adding: “Being expected to deliver for interrogators, what that has done to the soul of a woman is so terrible.”

Saudi abuses against nonviolent activist women are typical of how their ruling authorities always operate — showing contempt for the rights of ordinary people, tolerating no dissent.

Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is the kingdom’s torturer assassin-in-chief. He personally signed off on the October 2018 brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. In 2017, he arrested and detained hundreds of royal family members and Saudi businessmen. Held under house arrest at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, they were forced to pay tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in cash and assets to the regime for release — MBS grand theft on the phony pretext of rooting out corruption. 

He consolidated power by eliminating rivals and terrorizing potential ones. Royal family members, Saudi businessmen, and others in the kingdom not willing to affirm loyalty to his rule risk arrest, detention, torture, and elimination.

Since appointed crown prince in June 2017 — gaining power because his of father’s mental and physical deterioration — he’s ruthlessly gone all-out to solidify it unchallenged. He likely OK’s sexual and other torture of detained women activists.

UN secretary-general Guterres is largely silent about Western, Israeli and Saudi high crimes, serving their interests instead of condemning them. As long as Saudi Arabia is oil-rich, its wealth used to invest in Western countries and buy their weapons, as well as partnering in their regional wars, their ruling authorities will turn a blind eye to the worst of kingdom high crimes.
 

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‘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

Israel Holds Body of Cancer-Stricken Palestinian Prisoner

Source

Palestinian activists attend a solidarity conference in Gaza protesting the death of prisoner Kamal Abu Wa’ar. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

November 14, 2020

The Israeli occupation authorities decided to hold the body of a Palestinian prisoner who died in jail last week as a result of medical negligence, according to the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs Commission.

Kamal Abu Wa’ar, 46, from Qabatiya in the north of the West Bank, died on Tuesday, prompting Palestinian rights organization to accuse the Israeli authorities of neglecting the health of the prisoners and not providing them with the proper medical treatment.

The prisoners’ commission spokesman Hasan Abed Rabbo told WAFA that the Israeli authorities refused a request by its legal team to turn over Abu Waar’s body to his family for a proper burial and they, therefore, are still holding it.

Abed Rabbo said that Abu Waar is the eighth Palestinian prisoner who died while in jail and whose bodies Israel is still holding.

He called on the Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations to intervene and get Israel to release bodies of dead Palestinian prisoners to be buried by their families.

Israel holds the bodies of Palestinians in order to use them as a bargaining chip in future exchange talks with Palestinian organizations.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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