UK supplied cluster bombs to Saudis, Alkhalifa confirm death sentences
The UK government has admitted selling 500 cluster bombs to the Saudis in the eighties. Evidence has confirmed the illegal use of cluster bombs by the Saudis killing many Yemenis. UK’s Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon revealed the official figures, which relate to exports signed off by the British government between 1986 and 1989. It emerged that a “limited number” of the weapons had been sold to the autocracy and are still in its stockpile. Yemen’s Prime Minister Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour had said the UK Government was profiting from the humanitarian crisis by selling munitions. He told Sky News: “They have sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia” adding: “They know the Saudis are going to drop them on Yemen… in Sa’adah and in Sana’a and other provinces… I don’t think they are guilty of war crimes, I believe so. They are participating in the bombing of Yemen people.” Despite these admissions UK insists on continuing to supply Saudis with arms and ammunition to pursue their war crimes in Yemen.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of putting trade above human rights during his tour of the Middle East last week. His two-day Gulf visit is an attempt to bolster economic ties and forge investment opportunities post-Brexit. But Amnesty International said he should be pressuring leaders into bringing an end to the conflict in Yemen, and reconsidering UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Lucy Wake of Amnesty said: “Philip Hammond shouldn’t confine himself to trade issues during his Gulf visit, but should insist on a few human rights home truths with his hosts.” It is the third time in four weeks a senior member of the Government has travelled to the region on a charm offensive. Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited late last year.
On 9th January Alkhalifa highest court upheld the death sentences of three men despite irrefutable evidence that they had been tortured into making false confessions. Their executions are now imminent. Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace were originally sentenced to death in February 2015. All three were tortured into signing false ‘confessions’ that were used against them in court. Mr Mushaima was forced to sign documents despite being illiterate. He is a relative of a prominent opposition politician, but has never been involved in activism. Mr al-Samea was admitted to hospital for surgery as a result of his interrogation. He is a PE teacher and aspiring photojournalist. The three men’s death sentences were overturned in October 2016 after a court ruled that their initial sentences were “misjudgements.”
In another development Bahrain’s dictator has issued a decree granting the notorious National Security System the power to arrest political activists. In 2012 this power was removed after Bissioni Report accused it of torture. On 6th January Freedom House said: “Bahrain giving its intelligence agency authority to make arrests is an alarming expansion of police powers and more evidence that the Kingdom is not committed to reform,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs. “Bahrain should reverse this decision, halt its unjust harassment and detention of human rights defenders, and put into force the recommendations offered by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.”
On 5th January regime’s kangaroo court decided to extend Nabeel Rajab’s illegal detention by two more weeks to revenge his unyielding stands. The UN human rights agency (OHCHR) has voiced its concerns over Rajab’s continued detention. “We are seriously concerned about the on-going prosecution of Nabeel Rajab … who has been detained since 13 June 2016 for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” said OHCHR in a statement.
Bahraini death row detainee Mohammad Ramadan, confirmed that the detainees in solitary confinement in “Jaw” Prison live in “terrible conditions”, since 10 prisoners managed to escape on New Year’s day. Ramadan’s wife, Zeinab Mohammad, said according to her husband, that (the guards) took all their things and clothes, and are treating them “a terrible treatment, yelling at them, intimidating them, and interrogating them more than three times.” She added through a post on her Twitter account, “After 7 days of no information about my death row sentenced husband, he called today and told me they are living in terrible conditions.” Zeinab wondered, “What is my husband’s guilt, with those around him, in what happened with the group that escaped prison, to be treated this bad treatment.” Ramadan’s wife also called on “human rights personnel to interfere to stop violations against her husband and detainees in solitary confinement.”
For the week 2nd-8th January the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has documented at least 45 detentions including one child. 37 of these people were arrested in raids on their homes while seven were snatched at police check points. There were 39 protests five of which were attacked by regime’s mercenary forces.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
11th January 2017 (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vob.org)