Experts to investigate Saudi war crimes; Alkhalifa escalate persecution

On 29th September the Human Rights Council in Geneva decided to establish an international team of experts to examine abuses in the Yemen war and seek to identify those responsible. The decision capped an intense spate of diplomacy that spared Saudi Arabia, which has led a deadly bombing campaign in Yemen for more than two years, from a formal panel of inquiry like the one investigating the war in Syria. The final version calls for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, to appoint “a group of eminent international and regional experts” to conduct a “comprehensive examination” of abuses by all parties to the conflict since September 2014. The experts will report to the high commissioner within a year and discuss their findings with the Human Rights Council in September next year. Human rights groups regarded the compromise reached Friday as a qualified victory. “It’s a historic decision to put in place a mechanism that will bring scrutiny to all parties,” said John Fisher, director of Human Rights Watch’s Geneva office. Mona Sabella, an advocacy officer for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said: “Many thought it impossible to challenge Saudi impunity for war crimes in Yemen. The creation of an international investigative body today has shown that the lives of millions of Yemen people mean more than Saudi influence.”

On 2nd October Amnesty International said that death toll in Saudi Arabia in 2017 had reached 100 as authorities carry out execution spree. “Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East. There are pressures on the Saudis to repeal their decision to behead 14 citizens from the Eastern Province whose only crime was participating in peaceful anti-regime protests. In 2016 the Saudis executed prominent Shia Muslim scholar, Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr, for criticising the Saudi regime and calling for serious reforms.

On 25th September the novelist, Fawzan Al Ghaslan was arrested from his home in Ha’il city.  Yusuf Al Melhem was also arrested for his tweets. On 26th September Abdul Rahman Al Lahyani was detained.

Following the decision by the king to grant women permission to drive cars from next year, Saudi women who have been oppressed for decades, have been emboldened by their victory over the tribal Wahhabi doctrines. They are now calling for full political and social rights. They are demanding the abrogation of the system of “guardianship” which limits women movement, and the right to elect their government. Saudi Arabia is seen as the next flash spot for social and political mass movements in the Middle East to alleviate the suffering of the Arab masses who are ruled by dictators and despots.

The Ashura season in Bahrain has seen flare up of confrontations between the natives and the regime. The Alkhalifa failed to stop the people performing their centuries old rituals which predate their occupation of the islands. They were so enraged by the widespread enthusiasm of the native majority to preserve their cultural identity that they waged a wave of arrests against orators, organisers and heads of Hussain halls. At least two religious orators were arrested and charged with inciting against the regime: Abdul Amir Al Biladi and Ali Hamadi. Three others were also summoned but their plight is not known. A young man from Dair town was arrested on 29th September. Sayed Hadi Naji, 19, was detained in a raid on his home in the early hours of the morning. Sayed Ali AlDurazi has been detained for lecturing outside the regime’s “red lines” which have been imposed by Alkhalifa as part of their policy against the native majority.  From Sanabis, two brothers; Sadeq and Ahmad Hubail were detained in a raid on their home in the early hours of yesterday. 13-years old Jassim Abdul Jalil Al Kushari from Duraz has been snatched and taken to the notorious torture chambers.

The ordeal of Ahmad Mulla Yusuf is typical of many Bahraini young men who are persecuted relentlessly by the regime. His ordeal started when he was pursued by regime forces, who had ambushed him several times. He was first arrested in August 2013 and released after three months. He was arrested again in December 2013. He was imprisoned for six months and then released on bail, before being re-arrested for refusing to be an informant for the regime. Then he spent one year before his release in December 2016. His latest arrest took place in last August.  On another level, the prominent human rights activist, Ibtisam AlSayegh has engaged in hunger strike to protest the continued harassment of women detainees. Their visits have been curtailed and are prevented from face to face meetings with their loved ones including their children. This harassment has escalated as dictator attempts to exact revenge.

Bahrain Freedom Movement 

4th October 2017 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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