The annual report on Religious Freedom issued by the US State Department yesterday confirmed the dire situation in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The regimes of both countries are curtailing the religious freedom of the majority natives (in Bahrain) and the non-Wahhabi communities (in Saudi Arabia) at an alarming rate. Secretary of State, James Tillerson called on Alkhalifa dictatorhsip to end its discrimination against the Shia community and stop targeting and discriminating against them: “In Bahrain the government continue to question, detain and arrest Shiite clerics, community members and opposition politicians.” He further stated “Members of the Shia community there continue to report ongoing discrimination in government employment, education, and the justice system,” adding that “Bahrain must stop discriminating against the Shia communities”. He urged Saudi Arabia to embrace greater degrees of religious freedom for all of its citizens. On 24th May, three UN experts urged the Saudis to immediately stop demolition of cultural heritage and historic homes.
However Saudi destruction of civilian areas in the Eastern Province has continued. In the district of AlMusawwarah, Saudi forces have so far destroyed 488 buildings, six mosques and eight other religious (Hussaini) halls. They also obliterated the AlNimr religious school and the mortuary of the town. Many other buildings were destroyed in adjacent areas. Human Rights Watch has done its own satellite analysis without relying on images circulating on social media, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. That analysis shows widespread destruction in the Musawara neighbourhood. Video and photographic evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch also documents the destruction caused by fighting, specifically, the ordinance shot by Saudi security forces on buildings in the neighbourhood, Coogle said. “Residents have told me that essentially the entire main street, which was essentially all businesses, is pretty much destroyed, most of those businesses are heavily damaged by the fighting”.
The Saudi regime has been angered by the screening last night of a documentary titled: Kidnapped! Saudi Arabia’s Missing Princes. It sheds light on the abduction of three members of the House of Saud who called for reform in the authoritarian Kingdom. The film suggests that all three were abducted on European soil and returned to Riyadh in a systematic attempt by the Saudi authorities to silence high-profile defectors.
As the world community continues to ignore the plight of native Bahraini human rights activist, Mrs Ibtisam Al Sayegh, she staged hunger strike yesterday, in protest at the various forms of torture and abuse the regime’s torturers administer on her. In the past few days sick women inmates were transferred to cells near to her own. Some of them suffer from contagious diseases such as TB and other lung ailments. She also complains that her food is often stolen to force her to eat unhygienic food. She has said that she stood up for the honour, dignity and rights of Bahraini women who are targeted by Alkhalifa dictatorship which believes they are soft targets. Under Alkhalifa tribal traditions, women are marginalised and oppressed. So when a woman stands up against these defunct tribal traditions she often faces the wrath of the angry and cruel revenge of the tribalists. This includes psychological and physical torture and rape. Mrs Al Sayegh has also urged activists and scholars to stand up for the rights of those women who languish at Alkhalifa torture dungeons, considering this a human and religious duty.
Sheikh Hani Al Mullah has been re-arrested and jailed for six more months for supporting Ayatullah Sheikh Isa Qassim. He had been detained last August with others for 15 day. Yesterday he was given the jail sentence for refusing to give up his support of the people’s rights and defending the senior cleric.
In the past few days, native Bahrainis marked the Independence Day in their own style of protests, graffiti and social media. On 14th August 1971 Bahrain gained its independence after the UK troops had completed their withdrawal from all areas East of Suez. Alkhalifa tribal regime refuses to recognise it as the National Day despite people’s insistence. In the past week there were protests, marches, road blocks, graffiti and tweets by people who want to see their country liberated from the tribal occupiers of Al Saud and Alkhalifa. There were activities in London, Berlin and Washington. On Monday 14th August, the Opposition Bloc in UK organised a week-long programme culminating in a seminar and Press Briefing at Unite (The Union) headquarters in Central London. Speakers expressed solidarity with the people of Bahrain in their struggle against tribal rule, tribalism and foreign occupation. Of particular interest have been the unanimous calls for the UK government to change its policy of supporting the autocratic Alkhalifa tribal regime and adopt new strategy based on supporting efforts for democratic transformation and respect of human rights.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
16th August 2017 (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vob.org)