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May’s appeasement of Saudis attacked, Alkhalifa resort to “military justice”

The controversial visit by Prime Minister, Theresa May to Saudi Arabi has been marred with controversy because of its appalling human rights records, absolute dictatorship and war crimes in its war on Yemen. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Unless the prime minister challenges the Saudi regime over its abuses this week, it will be clear she is ready to sacrifice human rights and security on the altar of the arms trade.”The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen, backed by the British government, has left thousands dead, 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and three million refugees uprooted from their homes. Yemen urgently needs a ceasefire, a political settlement, and food aid, not more bombing.”

The visit will also embarrass Mrs May especially in light of the assertions by the Metropolitan Police that they had initiated an investigation into allegations of Saudi war crimes. The Met confirmed that their war crimes unit was assessing whether criminal prosecutions could be brought over Saudi Arabia’s devastating aerial campaign in Yemen. The force’s SO15 counter-terrorism unit revealed to a London human rights lawyer that it had launched a “scoping exercise” into the claims before the mouthpiece of the Saudi aggression, Ahmed al-Asiri’s visit to the capital. Furthermore, the incident last week involving Al Asiri , has exposed the shaky grounds on which UK government is basing its military involvement in the Saudi war on Yemen. Anti-war activists briefly conducted a citizen’s arrest on AlAsiri as he was entering the offices of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Central London. He was also pelted with an egg on his back. His reaction was to give his pursuers the middle finger. The rude gesture exposed the dirty nature of the Saudi regime he obediently serves.

Yesterday Alkhalifa dictator approved a constitutional amendment granting military courts the right to try civilians, raising concerns among Bahraini rights groups for activists. It is an attempt by Alkhalifa to tighten their grip on dissent, with thousands of native activists sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges mainly linked to freedom of expression. Military courts are usually limited to trying members of the armed forces or other branches of the security services, and could only try civilians under a state of emergency. Alkhalifa dictator had declared a temporary three-month state of emergency after the crackdown on protests in 2011, allowing special courts to try civilians connected with a wave of protests. On 3rd April Amnesty International condemned this move. “This constitutional amendment is a disaster for the future of fair trials and justice in Bahrain. It is part of a broader pattern where the government uses the courts to crackdown on all forms of opposition at the expense of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut. “Instead of moving to correct their shameful history of unfair trials and impunity for violations, authorities in Bahrain have decided to further undermine faith in the independence and fairness of the courts and of the justice system as a whole.”

In the week 27th March to 2nd April, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights documented at least 12 arbitrary arrests including one child. There were 42 marches in 24 towns and villages, 12 of them were attacked viciously by regime’s mercenaries. At least 85 native Bahrainis were tried by Alkhalifa kangaroo courts in 14 politically-motivated cases. They were given total jail sentences of 527 years and asked to pay about $2.5 million to Alkhalifa occupiers. Two were sentenced to death and five to life imprisonment. A senior cleric, Sheikkh Abdulla Al Daqqaq who runs a religious school in the Iranian city of Qom has been stripped off his nationality for his active role outside Bahrain.

In another twist by the Trump administration, his Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has decided to lift all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Alkhalifa tribal junta in an effort to end a rift between the US and the Alkhalifa authoritarian rule, according to administration and congressional officials involved in the debate. But the decision to drop the human rights assurances as a condition of the sale is bound to be read by Saudi Arabia and other states in the region as a sign that the new administration plans to ease its demands to protect and respect political dissidents and protesters. The conditions on the sale of 19 new American fighter jets, worth $2.8 billion, had been imposed by the Obama administration amid continuing concerns about the tiny Alkhalifa monarchy’s crackdown against the national patriotic opposition. Human rights groups immediately assailed any effort by the administration to lift the conditions on the arms sales. “If they lift the conditions, they’re saying we don’t think you need to reform, and the Bahrainis have a free pass to continue cracking down,” said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
5th April 2017 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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