FCO’s policy of misleading MPs over Saudi, Alkhalifa crimes exposed

imageFCO’s policy of misleading MPs over Saudi, Alkhalifa crimes exposed

Anger is mounting at the US decision to supply the Saudis with advanced aircrafts despite their bleak record of massive war crimes in Yemen. The Saudi Airforce is to receive 152 F-15SAs, of which 84 will be new build and 68 will be remanufactured F-15S platforms. Procured under a $29.4 billion Foreign Military Sale (the largest in US history), the F-15SA is the most advanced variant of the Eagle ordered to date. The UK’s FCO is under intense pressure to explain why its officials and ministers had misled MPs over Saudi war crimes in Yemen. Last month the FCO retracted statements by Philip Hammond denying Saudi war crimes.

Meanwhile a British Foreign Office minister has been accused of “covering up” a case of torture in Bahrain, a key Middle Eastern ally whose prisons system has received millions of pounds worth of support from Britain. The statements by Tobias Ellwood, MP, concern the case of Mohammed Ramadan, a 32-year-old airport policeman who was falsely accused of involvement in killing a police officer in February 2014 and subsequently sentenced to death. He was forced under torture to sign false confessions to the crime. On 19 April this year, Ellwood told the House of Commons that British embassy officials had been in direct contact with Bahrain’s prison ombudsman and that the watchdog, which is part of a programme that receives £2 million worth of support from the Foreign Office, had told his department there had been “no allegations of mistreatment or torture” in relation with the case. It has now been confirmed that not only was this incorrect, it was a line the Foreign Office stuck to for months despite being repeatedly provided with evidence to the contrary by human rights organisations. Last month Ellwood’s line shifted to: “We appear not to have received any evidence in relation to this case.” Documents have been revealed that suggest this was also incorrect and that several pieces of evidence showing there had been complaints of torture had in fact been handed to the Foreign Office. Days later, Ellwood wrote to campaigners, admitting: “We fully acknowledge that complaints [of torture] were made and my response was given in good faith.” The parliamentary record has yet to correct these statements.

In the week 1st to 7th August at least 29 people were arrested by British-backed Alkhalifa torture apparatus. They include one woman and two children. There were at least 47 marches in 26 towns and villages. Several of them were attacked by regime’s mercenary forces. The persecution of the native majority has continued. At least 41 active religious scholars were summoned for interrogation in relation to their support of Ayatullah Sheikh Isa Qassim. Among the scholars summoned and remanded in custody are: Mulla Habib Meftah, Sheikh Isa AlMo’min, Sheikh Mohammad Jawad AlShehabi, Sheikh Ali AlHamali and Sheikh Fadel AlZaki. Another prominent religious figure is being tried in court for taking part in the rally around Ayatullah Sheikh Isa’s house. Sayed Majeed AlMesh’al, the former president of the Religious Scholars Council, appeared at Alkhalifa court on Monday charged with taking part in a rally without Alkhalifa permission and promoting hatred of Alkhalifa dictatorship. Among the youth who have been detained are Hussain Hassan Mohammad who was abducted from the Bahrain-Saudi causeway, Abdul Reda Abdullah, 15, Sayed Ali Sayed Ahmad and Mustafa AlDurazi, a popular orator.
Concern is rising for the health of Nabeel Rajab, the most prominent human rights activist in the Arab World. He is reported to be suffering from acute stomach ailment that has led to continuous bleeding. His family has been supplying him with medical needs to stop it but with no success. Alkhalifa dictator is exacting revenge on Mr Rajab for refusing to remain silent as regime’s atrocities against the native majority continued. Regime’s officials have repeatedly cancelled appointments for Nabeel to see medical specialists. They want him to suffer or even die in his solitary confinement.

Last week native Bahraini prisoner, Ali Shaiboob was taken from his cell by masked men and nothing has been heard of him since. His cries were heard by other prisoners as he was being tortured. He had a family visit few days earlier which was cut to nine minutes only after arguing with one of the torturers about his treatment. The regime has turned the country into absolute police state. Any argument with the regime’s mercenaries, whether inside jail, at check points or at the persecution office, would automatically be considered a crime. The native Bahraini would be charged with “assault” and would be jailed for years. At least seven other prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement and subjected to horrific daily torture.

A new technical investigation published on 4th August by Bahrain Watch found evidence that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Batelco and Zain have been deliberately degrading and disabling Internet services every night in the village of Duraz between 7:00PM and 1:00AM for more than a month. Duraz has been the centre of protests since June 20, when Alkhalifa regime revoked the citizenship of leading Shia Muslim Cleric Isa Qassim, a resident of the village. Residents of Duraz have been complaining of nightly Internet disruptions since at least June 23.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

10th Auguts 2016 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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