The current 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) started this week in Geneva with gloomy prospect for improvement of human rights under regimes like Alkhalifa of Bahrain or AlSaud of Arabia. These two regimes, supported and empowered by US, UK and Israel are turning human rights into a farce. In his opening statement the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warned these dictators against continuing to violate the rights of citizens: “For political leaders who today wage campaigns against universal human rights, or threaten withdrawal from international or regional treaties and the institutions which uphold them, it is worth recalling what the world has achieved over seven decades – and what we all stand to lose if their threats succeed in choking off universal human rights.” He ended his opening statement saying: “To those political actors who, as in the days of the League, threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it, the sirens of historical experience ought to ring clear. We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers.”
This warning has failed to put Alkhalifa regime on notice. Its envoy to the HRC, Abdulla Faisal AlDosari, denied that native Bahrainis are being subjected to most ruthless treatments at the hands of Alkhalifa torturers. He brushed aside the fact that almost all human rights activists have been banned from travel to attend the Geneva session for the fourth consecutive time. Only activists residing outside the country were able to present the facts to the world. There has been an outcry at the continued attempts by some Western governments to shelter AlSaud and Alkhalifa torturers. Geneva is gradually sliding into irrelevance as the West continues to sideline the issues of human right and democracy. Of particular concern, in addition to extra-judicial and executions, is the enforced disappearance phenomenon. The disappeared include Sayed Fadel Sayed Abbas, 24, Sayed Alawi Sayed Hussain AlDurazi and Sheikh Hassan Essa. Five young men from Bani Jamra had disappeared since 3rd February: Mohammad Jamil AlJamri, Kadem Jaffar Kadem, Lu’ay BuHamad and Ali Mohammad Jaffar (from Bani Jamra)
In the week 22nd to 27th February the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights documented at least 17 arrests among the natives including six children. It also documented 129 marches in 40 towns and villages. At least 26 of these protests were attacked by masked members of Alkhalifa Death Squads and foreign mercenaries. Furthermore, 19 Bahrainis were tried by regime’s kangaroo courts. Two were given life sentences. Eight had their citizenship revoked by the occupiers.
Amnesty International (AI) has issued an Urgent Action about the case of Nader Abdul Emam who had been detained on 18th February. AI considers him a Prisoner of Conscience. It urged its members to: a. write immediately in Arabic, English or any other language: b. Calling on the Bahraini authorities to release Nader Abdulemam immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and assembly; c. Urging them to uphold the right to freedom of expression and assembly and repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of such rights.
AI also issued an Urgent Action on Nabeel Rajab whom it also considers “Prisoner of conscience”. He remains on trial for comments posted on Twitter. The verdict pursuant to his trial has been repeatedly postponed since October 2016. He also faces a new trial on separate charges related to TV interviews he gave. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted in both cases. AI urged activists to write: a. Calling on the Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression; b. Calling on them to lift Nabeel Rajab’s travel ban; c. Urging them to uphold the right to freedom of expression and repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Bahrain Watch organization has estimated the cost of internet shutdown on residents to be over $500 thousands, noting that telecom companies in Bahrain have been deliberately disrupting internet services in the town of Duraz between 7:00pm-1:00am everyday for 250 days. This is according to investigations conducted by the organization last August. The shutdown has been maintained by disabling cell towers and dropping approximately 90% of packets on fixed-line connections. A coalition of NGO’s sent a letter to the Bahrain Telecommunications Regulation Authority in August 2016 but have not received a response. An economic analysis by Bahrain Watch now estimates the cost of the internet shutdown to be more than 210,000 Bahraini Dinars (more than half a million USD) paid for by consumers.