A United Nations official who recently visited Saudi Arabia has criticized the country’s use of its terrorism tribunal and counterterrorism law to unjustly prosecute human rights defenders, writers, and peaceful critics. Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, issued his statement on May 4, 2017, following a visit to the country from April 30 to May 4. Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism law and a series of related decrees are used to criminalize a wide range of acts as “terrorism”, including intending to “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “calling for atheist thought.” Emmerson said that Saudi authorities denied him access to people jailed under the counterterrorism law and expressed concern regarding Saudi Arabia’s “unacceptably broad definition of terrorism.” He also called on Saudi Arabia to set up “a new independent mechanism to re-examine all cases where people had been jailed for exercising their rights of free speech, thought, conscience, religion or opinion, and of peaceful assembly or association.” In his statement, Emmerson urged Saudi officials to limit the legal definition of terrorism to “acts or threats of violence that are committed for religious, political or ideological motives, and that are aimed at putting the public or section of the public in fear or to coerce a government or international organization to take or refrain from taking any action.”
It is now confirmed that at least five native Bahrainis were killed by regime’s forces in their criminal attack on Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house; Mohammad Kadem Nasser, Mohammad Ali Ahmad, Mohammad Ahmad Hamdan, Ahmad Jamil Al Asfoor and Mohammad Abdul Karim Al Ekri. The crime was committed in early hours of Tuesday 23rd May by mercenary forces hired by Alkhalifa occupiers. They used live ammunition against the unarmed people guarding the home of the most senior figure in the country. Witnesses said that the attackers were aiming to kill, not just to subdue the volunteers who had pledged to defend the Sheikh to the end. The only weapon they had was their souls, the feeling of moral duty and their wish to challenge the decisions by the illegitimate regime that has killed hundreds of native Bahrainis in the past six years. The attack came two days after the American president told the dictator in a meeting in Riyadh that the US would always protect his dictatorship whatever happened. It was one of those outrageous pledges that is viewed by the Bahrainis as complicity in the regime’s criminality and continued dictatorship.
Meanwhile the human rights situation has deteriorated sharply in the past few weeks. On Thursday 25th May journalist Naziha Saeed, correspondent of France 24 was ordered to pay more than $2500 for what the tribal regime called “work without permit”. This is rubbing salt in the wound. Miss Saeed had been detained, severely tortured and threatened with more serious punishment. She knew her torturer, but the dictator continued sheltering her from any judicial punishment. There was an outcry in the media world. Yesterday, French journalists stood up in solidarity with Nazeeh Saeed.
Tweeters are now under greater threat than ever before. One tweet could cost the person up to five years behind bars. Yesterday, Hassan al Sharqi, a known tweeter wrote on his account: I will stop tweeting. He was forced to announce this after torturers at the notorious National Security Agency (NAS) interrogated, tortured and threatened him with more serious reprisals if he did not obey their orders. Adel Marzooq, a senior leader of the Wahdawi Society was also forced to announce his “retirement” from politics one day after he had been subjected to most horrific treatment and further reprisals if he did not obey the orders of the regime not to speak or act in any way against them. He was stripped off his clothes, sexually harassed, mercilessly beaten and told that he would face harsher torture “if he did not cooperate”. He was filmed naked and threatened to have the images spread on the social media to embarrass him. The most horrific treatment was inflicted earlier this week on a woman human rights activist. Ebtesam Al Sayegh was summoned by the NSA subjected to most horrific treatment and interrogation about her work in Geneva, sexually abused and filmed and told to abandon her human rights work. After seven hours of this criminal treatment she collapsed and had to be hospitalised. She was told her treatment was a lesson to “anyone who did not cooperate”. Another victim is human rights activist, Redha Alqatari who was arrested on Monday and was expected to receive similar treatment.
The attacks on the religious scholars have continued unabated. Sheikh Hassan Helal Al Zaki was detained in the aftermath of the bloody attack on Sheikh Isa Qassim’s home. His fate is not yet known. Another cleric who was abducted and considered “disappeared” is Sheikh Jaffar Al Sabah who was snatched on Monday. Sheikh Isa AlMo’min was arrested at Alkhalifa court room and taken to jail to spend more time. Sheikh Qassim’s fate is unknown since his house was raided and he was subjected to solitary confinement at home.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
31st May 2017 (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vob.org)