Not content with imposing an extreme prison sentence of 3 years on Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, for “illegal assembly”, the Bahrain Government’s Minister of State for Media Affairs, ironically called Samera Rajab, gave a press conference on Saturday responding to widespread international criticism of the sentence and virtually blaming Nabeel Rajab personally for most of Bahrain’s problems.
The minister claimed firstly that Nabeel Rajab had had a “free and fair trial”.
This of course is impossible when the king, his family and the administration to whom you are opposed also make, impose and administer the laws and control the judiciary. With members of the ruling Al Khalifa family acting as judges (no jury), who is going to oppose their wishes?
Although Nabeel Rajab has the right of appeal and the expectation (or at least hope) is that the term of the sentence will be reduced, 3 years is extreme by any measure. In any Western country a fine, a conditional discharge would be more likely or a worst a couple of weeks in prison for a repeat offence – but 3 years?
This is nothing but spite and vindictiveness and an attempt to remove the leadership of the protest movement. (EDITOR: Bring on a new generation of leaders I say!)
In her press conference (reported in the Gulf Daily News as “Justice Done”!) the Minister then went on to claim that Nabeel Rajab’s call to protest “are reported to have caused riots, road blocks, fires, and destruction of public and private property”.
Where is the direct evidence for that? Especially as Nabeel has a reputation for opposing violence and has only ever promoted peaceful demonstration.
But he is also now responsible not only for his own behaviour but apparently for that of everyone who opposes the Al Khalifa Government! In fact, violence has arisen because the frustration after more than a year – actually generations – of failure by the Government to respond to calls for democracy and sectarian equality, has boiled over into anger.
“These acts of incitement and direct participation,” the Minister blathered on, “Have compromised public order and the safety of citizens through the use of petrol bombs, along with other improvised weapons, against public and private property; as well as assault against police officers, leaving a number of them injured”.
(This is the same Information Minister whose criteria for “justice” is based on an expressed admiration for Sadam Hussein, the former dictator in Iraq!)
So now Nabeel is also responsible for “petrol bombing”, the use of “improvised weapons”, destruction of “public and private property”, “assaulting police officers” and “leaving a number of them injured”.
As Nabeel Rajab has never done any of these things personally and there was no evidence to show that he had or has ever incited anyone else to do them, there can be no doubt that both his arrest, trial and sentence are purely, 100% political and therefore vindictive.
On top of all that Nabeel Rajab is, according to the Minister responsible as well for “direct negative impact on economic and commercial activity in those areas of the capital which have prompted proprietors and businesses owners to request intervention from the Ministry of Interior to protect their interests and immediate safety”.
So somehow Nabeel has managed to “ruin the economy of Bahrain” as well. Nothing to do then with the violence perpetrated by the security forces against protesters and the excessive use of teargas and shotgun pellets?
They will be blaming him next for the sharp rise in insurance premiums to cruise liner companies preventing them from calling at Manama and to Bahrain’s failure to win more than one bronze medal at the Olympics! You can read the full report at the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) website, HERE:
Meanwhile, other leading Opposition figures, Zainab AlKhawaja, her father Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and 12 other of his compatriots all sit in jail as trials and appeals are delayed time after time on the whim of the presiding judge on the day.
The justice system in Bahrain is a joke and testimony to the ignorance of the ruling Al Khalifa family who think they can continue to suppress the legitimate claims of the majority of their population for democracy and the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
This stupid obstinacy will cost them dearly – eventually. Suppression breeds resistance – a law of nature. Extreme suppression breeds extreme resistance. History and the political direction of the 21st century are not on the Al Khalifas’ side. Sumood! (Steadfast!)
Please sign and support the AVAAZ petition to free Nabeel Rajab, HERE:
More than 5000 people worldwide have signed in the last 3 weeks.
ASSAD JET COMMITS WAR CRIME AT AZAZ – 40 CIVILIANS KILLED, UP TO 150 INJURED – I MAN “TODAY I BURIED 12 MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY”:
TIMELINE – 16th AUGUST 2012 12.15 GMT:
Around 3.00 pm local time yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, one of Assad’s MIG fighter jets screamed low over the FSA controlled town of Azaz in northern Syria near the Turkish border and delivered its deadly cargo of bombs.
Its targets were the former Ba’ath Party headquarters, now the HQ of the local FSA and a detention block nearby currently housing regime prisoners, Assad officials and members of the Shabiha.
Neither building was damaged. Azaz is a key town in the supply of food, medical supplies and probably ammunition and weapons to the FSA units fighting in Aleppo 30 miles (45 kilometres) away.
Instead the bombs fell on a residential block completely flattening dozens of houses over a 4,900 square metre area, instantly killing 40 civilians and injuring between 100 and 150 others.
Houses on surrounding streets were also significantly damaged with collapsed walls and ceilings and shattered windows.
Families were resting at home together during the fasting hours of Ramadan.
The casualties have been moved as quickly as possible to Turkey for treatment but hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx. A further 15 are reported to have died since they were sent to hospital.
One resident. “Ahmed”, described how he buried 12 members of his family as a result of this airstrike.
“I was about 100 meters away from the house when I saw the airplane and heard the sound of the bombing and destruction.
My three brothers lived here.
I buried 12 of my family members today, including my father, my mother, and my sister – my brother’s wife as well. Walid, my brother, was cut into pieces. We didn’t recognize him at first. We buried my brothers’ children also. The youngest was 40 days old”.
You can read and see more from Human Rights Watch (HRW), who were there on the ground documenting the attack shortly after it happened, HERE:
Al Jazeera also has a pretty grim video report (Caution: distressing pictures), HERE:
International humanitarian laws on war, prohibit direct acttacks on civilian targets. Clearly the Assad regime has shown complete disregard for this, over and over.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION REPORTS ON MASSACRE OF 108 AT HOULA – “BLAME LIES AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL”:
Yesterday also the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva published a report on the massacre at Houla on the 25th May 2012 clearly attributing blame to Government forces and Assad’s armed militia, the Shabiha. The investigating commission interviewed more than 600 witnesses. 108 people were murdered, including 49 children and 34 women.
In part the report reads:
“The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Government forces and the Shabbiha had committed the crimes against humanity of murder and of torture, war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including unlawful killing, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, indiscriminate attack, pillaging and destruction of property.
The commission found that Government forces and Shabbiha members were responsible for the killings in Al-Houla.
The commission confirms its previous finding that violations were committed pursuant to State policy. Large-scale operations conducted in different governorates, their similar modus operandi, their complexity and integrated military-security apparatus indicate the involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the Government”.
The full report can be found here by clicking on “Advanced Edited Version” and the document will come up in Word.
The BBC has an interview with Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Chairman of the UN inquiry, HERE:
TIME TO BRING PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT:
EDITOR: Following these 2 events yesterday I decided to take personal action and launched another petition on AVAAZ, this time a call to bring President Bashar al-Assad to justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
No doubt Russia and China will block any attempt by the Security Council to refer Assad to the ICC, but if we get 1 million signatures even they will take notice!
You can access the petition HERE:
Please retweet on Twitter and spread by email and on Facebook, Pinterest and other social media. More than 300 signatures have come in over the first 2 days from countries all over the world, including Russia.
The short address to retweet the petition is: http://bit.ly/AssadToICC
TIMELINE – 31st JULY 2012 00.03 GMT:
This is a tale of the 3 “Fake Sheikhs” (there may be more) from Bahrain, who are not what they pretend to be, and the “fake Bahrain Olympic Team”.
“Fake Sheikh” No. 1 is Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Hamad Al Khalifa, sometimes described as a “businessman” and a member of Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family.
Normally, you would have expected Sheikh Abdulrahman, who seems to have a keen interest in gambling and horse racing in particularly, to have been at the famous Newmarket racecourse in the UK a couple of weeks ago, to see the fine racehorse Shantaram win the Bahrain Trophy.
Perhaps it was a pious attack of conscience at the approach of Ramadan that deterred him from attending?
Or perhaps it was the fact he now owes the British betting company Spreadex a reputed £350,000 (BD207,230) in lost bets.
Spreadex have been trying to get this back since 2008 when the Sheikh apparently owned a couple of racehorses called Dear Maurice and Royal Jazra.
Now the Sheikh’s name has reappeared in the UK as heading a group of investors who are trying to buy the football club, Leeds United.
Leeds used to be a leading British club but in recent years have fallen on hard times despite having a strong fan base and they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004.
The Sheikh, who is a former president of Al Najma Football Club in Bahrain, tried and failed to buy Leeds United in 2003. At the time the Sheikh was quoted as saying:
“I fell in love with the club when I was 11 years old when Leeds played Chelsea in the 1970 FA Cup final. It was fated that I should love the club. Whether that fate will determine that I can save them 30 years later, I don’t know. Leeds mean everything to me, I was born to support them. Those who are closest to me, my friends and my family, know what Leeds United mean to me”.
(EDITOR: I am sure other members of the Al Khalifa family, and in fact all citizens of Bahrain, are deeply moved by his enthusiasm.)
The Leeds United board of directors has granted the Sheikh’s consortium time to conduct “due diligence” into the club’s financial records, but the clubs fans under the umbrella of the Leeds United Supporters Trust are getting impatient at what seems like a long delay.
“Our members want to support a transparent and open Leeds United and being kept in the dark about who currently owns or runs their football club does nothing to achieve this, ” said a Trust spokesman frustrated at the lack of information over takeover talks which have been going on for months now. The value of the bid is thought to be £50 million (BD 29.8 million).
Leeds fans may like to think long and hard before allowing a member of Bahrain’s ruling family who have deliberately targeted, persecuted and prosecuted Bahraini sportsmen, to take over the running of their club.
EDITOR: If the Sheikh succeeds in his bid, fans may not be too keen on the long term outcome either. Spreadex are unavailable for comment.
SHEIKH NASSER ATTENDS GAMES TO SUPPORT BAHRAIN’S “FAKE OLYMPIC TEAM”:
“Fake Sheikh” No. 2 is of course Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa who contributes to all sorts of charitable causes in Bahrain but is firmly on record accused, including in court transcripts, of persecuting and even personally torturing members of the Shia community in last years uprisings.
Despite our campaign to prevent Sheikh Nasser from attending the London Olympics on the basis that he spearheaded a committee that wrecked the lives of at least 150 Bahraini athletes and sports officials, the Sheikh, as president of Bahrain’s Olympic Committee, did make it to the opening ceremony last Friday.
In the photograph you can see that he was supported by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, whom the Bahrain Government clearly sent to the Opening Ceremony to lend weight to the proceedings.
No doubt they staggered to their feet, considering the lateness of the hour, to applaud the entry of the “Fake Bahrain Olympic Team” as they entered the stadium in the parade of 204 participating nations.
“Fake” because, trouble is, only one member of the 14 member Bahrain Olympic team, consisting of 8 women and 6 men, originates from Bahrain, all the rest being naturalised citizens.
While it is not unusual for Olympic sports participants to change country, particularly when they have dual nationality, it is unusual to, as it seems, virtually “buy” your whole team in.
No doubt the Bahrain officials were also on their feet to applaud the entry of the teams from Kenya and Ethiopia, which is where most of their athletes seem to have originated.
This piece of typical Al Khalifa chicanery, presumably based on money, is unlikely to raise much enthusiasm back home in Bahrain in even the most deluded of the “royal” family’s supporters.
Meanwhile, at least 20 athletes remain in Bahrain’s prisons, having been given sentences in military courts on trumped up charges from last year’s disturbances. Some others of Bahrain’s best sportsmen now play for team’s abroad.
As it says in this Time article, the Al Khalifa government, having “eviscerated” its sports community, is reaping its just desserts in the athletics field. Though it is sad for the people of Bahrain and a waste of the collective talents of nearly 70% of its population.
Bahrain did win a gold medal in the men’s 1500 metre track final at Beijing in 2008. Unfortunately, the “Bahraini athlete”, Rashid Ramzi, later tested positive for the performance enhancing drug CERA and his medal and certificate had to be returned.
You will not be surprised to learn that Ramzi was born in Asfi, Morocco and became a “Bahraini citizen” in 2002 after “joining” the Bahrain armed services.
“DEEPLY RELIGIOUS” RELATIVE OF KING HAMAD REMOVED FROM FLIGHT COMPLETELY DRUNK AT 10.00 am:
And the last “Fake Sheikh”? He remains a bit of a mystery as the UK police have not released his name, though they have given his age as 28.
This mystery Sheikh, “a close relative of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain”, was ejected from a British Airways Boeing 777 flight to Doha via Manama at London Airport last Saturday, when he started complaining about the service, attempted to enter the flight deck (EDITOR: Never a good move since 9/11) and refused to return to his £2,700 (BD1598) First-Class seat.
British police called to the scene reputedly threatened the Sheikh with 50,000 volt Tazers, before arresting him for being drunk and disorderly and taking him to the airport’s police station where he was DNA’d, and had his photograph and fingerprints taken.
The Sheikh was later released on bail and will have to appear in court in London in September.
The Sheikh appears to have lost control at 10.00 am in the morning, so on the subjects of alchohol and Ramadan he is no doubt now in deep discussions with his spiritual advisers. Further detail in the Sun