Peter Clifford

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BAHRAIN – News: Twisted Legal System Continues Courtroom Farce

BAHRAIN’S TWISTED LEGAL SYSTEM CONTINUES COURT FARCE WITH A “RETRIAL” OF ALKHAWAJA AND 20 OTHERS:

BAHRAIN GOVERNMENT CLAIM ALKHAWAJA “NOT FORCE-FED” – HOW COULD HE BE ALIVE AFTER FASTING 83 DAYS OTHERWISE?:

TORTURE, BEATINGS AND ABUSE BY THE AL KHALIFA POLICE CONTINUE IN “UNOFFICIAL LOCATIONS” SAYS HRW:

BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER INCITES FOLLOWERS TO VOTE FOR TV FILM – APPARENTLY THOUGHT “BAFTA” WAS A FOOD EATING AWARD:

TIMELINE – 1st MAY 2012 12.25 GMT:

Following international pressure, particularly over the case of Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, Bahrain’s Al Khalifa family run Government yesterday announced via the Court of Cassation that all 21 defendants convicted last year in a military court of “plotting against the monarchy”, would be sent for retrial in a civilian court.

Eight of the defendants, including AlKhawaja, had previously been sentenced to life imprisonment and 7 of the defendants were given long sentences in absentia. The 14 who have been held in prison since their arrest in the Spring of 2011 will not be released pending  retrial.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

Support for AlKhawaja Unrelenting

A entirely new trial with prosecution and defence witnesses will take place, meaning effectively that the Bahrain Government has found just another way of keeping them in prison while at the same time pretending to the world that it is “listening” and “reforming its legal system”.

However, the Al Khalifa Government has “pulled the wool” over the eyes of the international community too many times to be taken seriously and therefore any of its “good” actions in regards to the Opposition will be regarded skeptically.

Sayed Hadi al-Mousawi, a spokesman for the Opposition Wefaq Party, said, “This ruling is just a step in the right direction, but the street will not calm down until all the prisoners are freed. This is just a part of it”.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

Khadija & Zainab AlKhawaja

Khadija al-Mousawi, AlKhawaja’s wife, said, “If they are serious they should set them free and then retry them.

My husband is going through the whole thing again, remembering the horrible episode of torture, attempt to rape and sexual abuse.

I think it is ridiculous, what sort of legal process is this? They are playing for time, and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing not the third.”

The BBC has a video report, including an interview with Khadija, HERE:

BAHRAIN GOVERNMENT CLAIM ALKHAWAJA “NOT FORCE-FED” – HOW COULD HE BE ALIVE AFTER FASTING 83 DAYS OTHERWISE?:

AlKhawaja himself is now in the 83rd day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike. When his family were finally allowed to visit for an hour on Sunday, after being denied access for a week, AlKhawaja told them that he had been tied to the bed, sedated and force-fed through a nasoenteric tube.

Despite denials on their Government news agency website from the Bahraini Defence Force military hospital where he is being held, that this was the case, it is almost certainly the reason he is still alive. Almost all previous hunger strikers have not survived more than 73 days. He has vowed to continue his strike.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

The family were also allowed to visit Zainab AlKhawaja, Abdulhadi’s daughter, who has now been held in custody for more than a week for staging a sit-down protest on the highway in support of her father.

Zainab told her family that she had been kicked and beaten on arrest.

Bahrain activist Frankie Dolan has started a Storify page in support of AlKhawaja and is asking people to leave their comments, thoughts and memories about him and the inspiration he has provided. 100,000 comments needed. You can add yours, HERE:

TORTURE, BEATINGS AND ABUSE BY THE AL KHALIFA POLICE CONTINUE IN “UNOFFICIAL LOCATIONS” SAYS HRW:

That abuse, torture, arbitrary arrests and distortion continue in Bahrain, despite its “commitment” to implementing the recommendations of the BICI report issued last November, was highlighted again on Sunday when Human Rights Watch (HRW) published another report titled “Bahrain: Police Brutality Despite Reform Pledges”.

In a visit from 15th – 19th March 2012, HRW interviewed 14 youngsters, including 7 children, who had been arrested and then taken to informal police facilities and isolated public places and beaten before being released or taken to police stations.

Interviews and formal proceedings at police stations are now supposed to be recorded on video.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

One 20 year old described his treatment after being arrested on February 11th and taken to the former youth hostel in Sanabis, a place activists have identified as one used for abuse and torture.

“I had lost my shoes and could feel grass beneath my feet. With my hands cuffed behind my back, they made me kneel and bend over and they started kicking me and beating me with sticks. Someone said: “Finished.”

Another voice said: “Too early, continue.” They then removed all my clothes, apart from the tee shirt that they had turned on my head, and laughed at me. They then put my pants back on and asked me to pray.

As I leaned forward, I and the other prisoner were kicked from behind and we fell forward into a swimming pool, still with hands cuffed. The pool was shallow, so I was able to stand but the water was cold – it was a particularly chilly evening.

When I fell into the pool, my tee shirt hood came down and I could see policemen standing around the pool”.

HRW has confirmed with satellite imagery that the former Sanabis Youth Hostel grounds contains a swimming pool.

HRW raised “the issue of police brutality and torture during arrest and at informal facilities with Bahrain’s chief of public security, Major General Tariq al-Hasan, and his two senior international advisers, John Yates and John Timoney, on April 17.

Timoney and Yates said they had visited some of the facilities identified by Human Rights Watch but found no evidence at the time of their visits of detainees being taken there and mistreated.

Major General al-Hasan told Human Rights Watch that the police authorities were considering issuing instructions to order immediate transfer of detained protesters to police stations”.

As yet no senior police or security officer has been held accountable for abuse, torture or deaths in custody in Bahrain and not one single police officer has as yet tbeen convicted of such a crime. You can read the whole HRW report, HERE:

BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER INCITES FOLLOWERS TO VOTE FOR TV FILM – APPARENTLY THOUGHT “BAFTA” WAS A FOOD EATING AWARD:

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “Bon Vivant” (EDITOR: But judging by his photographs has been clearly “Bon Vivanting” rather too much lately – see @khalidalkhalifa and below – and perhaps got the word “BAFTA” confused with the English word “BURP”), last weekend incited his 80,000 socila media followers to vote against the Al Jazeera award winning TV documentary “Shouting in the Dark”.

The Al Jazeera film, much of which was shot undercover, documents the Bahrain uprising of 2011 and the aftermath. It has already won numerous awards and is currently one of 4 nominees for the 2012 BAFTA (British Academy for Film and Television Arts) prize for Current Affairs.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta/burp

Sheikh Khalid told his followers to vote for a Channel 4 film about Sri Lanka, one which probably few of them have watched, and, ironically, whose film makers Bahrain’s Government deported from their country recently (see below).

So far, his “call to action” has not helped much. As of this morning, Tuesday, “Shouting in the Dark” was ahead by around 7,000 votes, polling 52.25% of the vote. The other 2 programmes by Panorama have jointly polled less than 1% of the vote.

You can cast your vote, HERE:

You can also watch Al Jazeera’s excellent documentary, HERE:

The UK’s Channel 4, whose journalists were chased by police and deported from Bahrain for filming “illegally”, have had some of the footage that they lost at the time smuggled back to them. You can see their video report, filmed during the F1 Grand Prix week, HERE:

Ironically, the votes of Sheikh Khalid and his supporters are irrelevant anyway. The BAFTA Awards are decided by an independent jury and will be announced on the 27th May. The Radio Times poll was merely to gauge the views of its readers and it makes no difference to the end result. You can read the full BBC article, HERE:

EDITOR: As a satirical blogger I am so grateful to the Bahrain government for the endless ways it makes a fool of itself. Thank you.

BAHRAIN – News: “Is Alkhawaja Being Force Fed?”

SUSPICIONS GROW THAT ALKHAWAJA’S RIGHTS ARE BEING FURTHER ABUSED BY “FORCE-FEEDING”:

BAHRAIN’S PRIME MINISTER: “WHEN IT COMES TO NATIONAL SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS AREN’T THE MOST IMPORTANT THING” – SO WE HAVE NOTICED!:

TIMELINE: 28th APRIL 2012 10.45 GMT:

Abdulhadi AlKhawaja is now on the 80th day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike.

The IRA hunger strikers in Northern Ireland during the Irish troubles in the 1980’s lived between 59 and 73 days. http://www.petercliffordonline/force-feeding

An Indian environmental activist, Swami Nigamanand, who was trained in yogic fasting techniques, died after a hunger strike lasting 115 days in 2011.

(For further information see Mike Diboll’s excellent article, “Bahrain Abuses: where is Abdulhadi Al Khawaja?)

So this now begs the question “Is AlKhawaja being force-fed?”.

If so, this would be an abuse of his human rights to choose not to eat.

The other possibility, as I suggested yesterday, is that he is in a coma and being kept alive with intravenous infusions.

The “force-fed” suggestion gains credibility when you realise that the nutritional drink Ensure, which the Gulf Daily News  yesterday implied AlKhawaja was “happily drinking”, was in fact used by US authorities in force feeding kits at Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo Bay, being in Cuba, was outside normal US jurisdiction and used to hold suspected “terrorists”, though many were later shown to be completely innocent.

(EDITOR: Hmmm! Sounds horribly familiar!  My thanks to Mike Diboll, who has worked in Bahrain and taught Maryam AlKhawaja, for the information.)httP://www.petercliffordonline.com/force-feeding

Reinforcing the “force feeding” idea is the fact that all access to AlKhawaja, both personal and via the telephone, by his family, his lawyer and the Danish Ambassador has been denied this week on “doctors orders” and an agreed family visit arranged for today has been cancelled by the authorities.

A Tweet from the Ministry of Interior late on Wednesday claimed that he was still “in good health despite rumours. He is in hospital receiving full medical care”.

Khadija Khawaja, Abdulhadi’s wife, said, “They say he is in good health, but if that’s true, then why won’t they let me speak to him, why won’t they let me see him?”

The Bahraini Government has also refused to let her visit her daughter Zainab, who is being held in prison for 7 days after being arrested for “disrupting traffic” following a sit-down protest in support of her Father.

So what the hell is going on? As usual, the devious Al-Khalifa Government has some explaining to do.

BAHRAIN’S PRIME MINISTER: “WHEN IT COMES TO NATIONAL SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS AREN’T THE MOST IMPORTANT THING” – SO WE HAVE NOTICED!:

Talking of being “devious”, Der Spiegel, the German newspaper group, yesterday published a rare interview with the “master of the art of double-speak”, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Prime Minister.

Throughout the interview the PM refers to Bahrain’s Opposition as a “terrorist group” “supported by Iran and Hezbollah”. “What we are facing,” he claims, “Is exactly what the Americans are facing with terrorism”.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/force-feeding

Bahrain's PM - "Disengenuous, Old Fraud"

Asked about “dialogue” with the Opposition, the PM says, “The king has gone a long way in making many offers to them, but in the end they told us they had to wait to see what Iran would tell them”.

(EDITOR: Er.. yes, I a sure that’s exactly how the conversation with the Opposition went!)

After listing all the wonderful benefits of living in Bahrain, but which don’t included democracy and freedom of expression of course, he adds, “I hold the opposition’s religious leader, Issa Qassim, responsible for everything that is going on in this country, especially for all the people who have been killed. And Qassim is taking his orders from Iran”.

Asked about the constant battles between police and protesters, he says, “We do not want bloodshed in this country. Our police are only here to protect the people…..” (EDITOR: Er… perhaps he could get Yates and Timoney to remind them of that?)

On AlKhawaja, he “begs to differ” on the assertion that after 80 days on hunger strike his condition is very bad. “His condition is not as bad as you say. According to the doctors attending to him on a daily basis, he takes liquids. The Danish ambassador visited him recently and said he was satisfied with the treatment being provided to him”.

(EDITOR: Completely ignoring the fact that the Danish ambassador has been denied the opportunity to visit AlKhawaja for over a week, despite repeated requests.)

As the interview proceeds the PM starts to reveal his true colours: “When it comes to national security, human rights aren’t the most important thing” and when asked about the majority Shia Opposition merely asking for more rights, says, “The opposition is only looking for excuses, abusing demands for ‘more rights’ and ‘democracy’ to turn Bahrain into a second Iran”.

When Der Spiegel point out that he has been PM for 41 years and say, “That’s very unusual for a democracy”, his reply is classic. “So what? Democratic systems are very different. The system in Thailand is different from Russia, and the form practiced in Germany differs from that of the United States. So why can’t we also be different?”

Lastly, when asked about the “Arab Spring” revolutions, he displays a high level of naive disengenuity by saying, “Do you think I am happy to see what has happened in all these countries? This is not an ‘Arab spring.’ Spring is connected with flowers, happy people and love — not death, chaos and destruction”.

EDITOR: So there you have it, a rigid, disingenuous old fraud who blames everything on Shia Iran and its “agents”, and who would have us believe that the police are well behaved and acting only in self-defence to preserve a wonderful system that has lasted almost 230 years since 1783.

Some might think its time for a change!  You can read the full interview, HERE:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/force-feeding

PM - "It's All the Fault of the Shia" - Courtesy of @CarlosLatuff

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BAHRAIN – News: Human Rights Activist “In High Spirits” Apparently – Can You Believe a Word They Say?

GOVERNMENT PRESS “SOURCE” SAYS “ALKHAWAJA IS IN HIGH SPIRITS” – (RUNNING AND SKIPPING NO DOUBT!):

AL-KHALIFA PRIME MINISTER’S TWO-FACED “HUMANITY”:

TIMELINE – 27th APRIL 2012 08.57 GMT:

According to a report in today’s Gulf Daily News, the main English language pro-government newspaper in Bahrain, they had been told by “sources” that Abdulhadi AlKhawaja was still at the Bahrain Defence Force hospital and was in “high spirits”

http://www.petercliffordonline.com

AlKhawaja in "High Spirits" After 79 days on Hunger Strike?

The report also claims that “he has never stopped receiving intravenous fluids, although nurses did say he tried to stop taking water two days ago” and that for the last 2 days he has been drinking the nutritional drink Ensure.

According to Google, “Ensure is a food supplement often recommended by nutritionists or dieticians to ‘ensure’ that patients are getting enough calories and vitamins when swallowing difficulties or arm weakness make eating whole foods difficult or no longer pleasurable”.

It is often used with sufferers of motor neurone disease who are no longer able to feed themselves normally.

The press source also went on to say that AlKhawaja “has lost at least 11kg to 12kg, but he is not skeletal. His muscle mass is still there, but his fat mass has definitely gone. His skin is very tight so it is difficult when searching for a vein for a needle, but for the last two days he has been taking the nutritional drink Ensure.

Reports that he has gone missing are not true – and I saw him coming out of the bathroom where he was in high spirits.”
You can read the full report HERE:

This report that AlKhawaja is “in good health” was compounded yesterday by a video interview by BBC’s Hardtalk programme with Bahrain’s Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Khalid Bin Ali Al-Khalifa. He says that AlKhawaja is receiving “optimum health care”.

EDITOR: Whatever that is? If you can bear to watch this grinning, smirking  idiot, the video report is HERE:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com

AlKhawaja Remains Defiant - Courtesy of @CarlosLatuff

 

So after 79 days on a hunger strike then, AlKhawaja is “fine” the Bahraini Government would like us to believe.

That he is apparently still alive is a relief but why they refuse to allow anyone to see or talk with him is highly suspicious.  

The claim is that the “doctors” have said that visits and phone calls must stop.

Why? Just another collective punishment on his family and followers it seems to me – and once again a demonstration of the Al-Khalifa’s complete lack of humanity.

AlKhawaja’s appeal against his conviction comes to court again on Monday 30th April.  But don’t get your hopes up. On their past track record the Bahrain justice system will make it as difficult and awkward as possible, probably postponing the decision yet again.

AL-KHALIFA PRIME MINISTER’S TWO-FACED “HUMANITY”:

Meanwhile the ridiculous monarchy in Bahrain play out their games with the King sending a “cable” to the Prime Minister, thanking him for his “cable” thanking him for the “success” of  (the half full stands at) the F1 Grand Prix weekend.

(EDITOR: Someone should tell them about those new invention, emails and the telephone!).

There is also much made on the official Bahrain News Agency website of visits by the Prime Minister, and a string of other officials, to the bedsides of injured police officers and also to a mother and son injured in a gas cylinder explosion that severely damaged their home and showered them with glass.http://www.petercliffordonline.com

Speaking to the police officers, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the antique Prime Minister, said, “To say “thank you” is not enough. We need to show love and respect to the security officers and translate that into deeds”.

“The Prime Minister lauded popular stances in support of the security officers which, he said, emanate from the Bahraini inherent humane characteristics”, says the report.

“He stressed rejection of all forms of intimidation and terrorization of citizens, asserting that Bahrain will always remain and oasis of security and stability under the wise leadership of His Majesty the King”.

(EDITOR: If you can face reading the full report without reaching for the sick bag, it is HERE:

Strange that we never noticed members of the Government visiting the families of those whose loved ones have died from police brutality or mysteriously in the Al-Khalifa prisons. I must have just missed the reports that day!

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