The Ritz-Carlton ordeal may have come to an end but the ramifications are expected to last much longer. The Saudi self-appointed crown prince and future king, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) has sown the seeds for serious rifts within the House of Saud and may have paved the way for its eventual downfall. After plundering the kingdom’s wealth paying $450 billion to Donald Trump, he sought to replenish the dwindling treasury funds with about $100 billion from his cousins and other businessmen on the grounds that they had engaged in corruption. Now he is, himself, accused of lavish spending from the state funds on his own luxuries like the purchase of the most expensive yacht, a Salvator Mundi’s painting and the house in France. His ill-fated war on Yemen and enmity with Qatar are catalysts for major failures and eventual doom.
The Saudi dismal human rights record is likely to surface more often now that media attention has focussed on the desert kingdom. Last week activists in London launched a campaign against a proposed visit to UK by MBS. A letter was handed to Theresa May on Thursday 25th January signed by several NGOs asking her to cancel the visit. An Early Day Motion at Parliament was launched for signatures by MPs to that effect. Mobile banners were seen on London streets on large vans calling for banning the visit. But the human rights file is now being actively pursued as repressions intensifies in Arabia. On 27th January two prominent human rights defenders Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi were sentenced to 14 and 7 years in prison respectively, Human rights bodies have called for the immediate and unconditional release of these two individuals and all prisoners of conscience.
On Monday 29th January Alkhalifa regime’s courts confirmed the death sentence they had earlier imposed on native young Bahraini, Maher Abbas Al Khabbaz. The victim had been subjected to most vicious forms of torture before the original sentence was arbitrarily imposed on him in 2014. UN Experts had confirmed his torture ordeal and named his torturers. Instead of taking action against his tortureres, the regime insisted on killing him. Amnesty International said: “Maher Abbas Ahmad (also Known as Maher al-Khabbaz) was tried along with eight men including three of his brothers. He was sentenced to death while two were sentenced to life imprisonment and the other six were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. In May 2014, the Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, the Special rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, wrote to the Bahraini authorities in relation to the sentencing of Maher Abbas Ahmad and called for his conviction to be quashed and for his retrial.”
On 29th January two brothers were forcibly deported from Bahrain, on orders from the royal court. Ibrahim and Ismail Khalil Darwish first had their nationality revoked and then put on a plane to take them to exile. Amnesty International said: Bahrain expelled 2 citizens to Iraq. Seven others face imminent expulsion. They are among 31 people stripped of their nationalities in 2012. Bahrain must halt its arbitrary revocation of nationality which results in statelessness, and is in violation of international law.
On Monday four children were detained at Northern Sehla Town. From Iskan Aali two brothers were snatched by the regime’s Death Squads; Ali and Ahmad Mahmood were arrested and taken to the torture chambers. Alkhalifa Appeal court on Monday confirmed earlier sentences passed on a group of citizens from Bani Jamra Town. Six were sentenced to five years: Ahmad Abdul Karim Fateel, his brother Nader, Fadhel Abbas Kayed, Hussain Ali Mohammad AlGhasra and Ali Hassan Matrook. Four had been given three years: Ali Abdul Hadi Al Arab, Hussain Mohammad Kadhem Yousuf, Bassel Abbas Kayed and Hadi Hussain Abdul Hassan.
On 27th January, Reuters published a news piece titled “Activists Say Bahrain Human Rights Deteriorate as World Looks Away”. It said: Human rights in Bahrain have deteriorated significantly in the past year because international pressure on the Gulf Arab kingdom has weakened, activists said on Thursday. “Bahrain is now clearly sliding in a new and very dangerous direction with 37 people arrested yesterday alone,” said Brian Dooley of U.S.-based Human Rights First. “The fairly weak level of restraint that was there before has all but gone,” he said, adding that countries influential in Bahrain such as the United States and Britain needed to step up their criticism.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
31st January 2018 (email@example.com, www.vob.org)