Category Archives for "Bahrain"

Threats, Delusions and Sectarian Persecution in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia





TIMELINE – 1st June 2012 11.15 GMT:

Following the release on bail on Monday of Nabeel Rajab, another 3 activists Zainab AlKhawaja, Masooma Sayyid Sharaf and Hassan Oun were released from detention on Tuesday of this week.

Zainab Alkhawaja Shortly After Her Release

Like Nabeel Rajab, Zainab and Masooma were released on bail and will have to return to court in June to answer further charges.

But as Amnesty International said on Tuesday in a statement, commenting on the ongoing trials of prisoners of conscience and the many political prisoners still held in detention on questionable charges, “behind Bahrain’s thin veneer of reform, little has changed in practice and the human rights crisis is far from over”.

This was highlighted last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, when following a “Universal Periodic Revue” (UPR), which all UN member states are subject to, Bahrain was severely criticised for its human rights record and landed with 176 recommendations which it says it is going to “consider”.

As well a some internationally known human rights organisations, some civic society members of the Opposition from Bahrain gave evidence at the hearing including Drs.Ala’a Shehabi and Nada Dhaif, Maryam AlKhawaja and Jalila al Salman.

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was unable to attend as he was still being held in prison accused of “insulting a state institution” on his Twitter account.

At the end of the hearings last Friday and the issuing of the report on Bahrain, the President of the Human Rights Council Laura Dupuy Lasserre, issued an unprecedented statement saying she had been advised that some of those giving evidence against the Bahrain Government had been named and vilified in Bahrain’s media and threatened with interrogation and reprisals since appearing.

Laura Lasserre, President UN HR Council

The President of the Council went on to name all the civil society members from Bahrain who attended and called for their protection. A video of the President’s statement is HERE:

Despite vehement statements of denial from Bahraini officials at the UN and back home that they would “ever do such a thing”, reports from Manama confirmed that vilification of the activists who spoke in Geneva continued on Bahrain’s state TV on Tuesday evening and that since the beginning of the session on Monday 21st May, a number of columns have appeared in Bahrain media labeling the activists as “traitors” and making other derogatory statements against them.

Dr. Salah Ali, Minister of State at Bahrain’s “Human Rights” Ministry and leader of their UN delegation, called the allegations “unfounded” and said he would like to know who made such a complaint to the Human Rights Council?

The representatives from Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Kuwait and Yemen, all of whom had supported Bahrain’s shining human rights record”, condemned the President for her statement.

However, Laura Dupuy Lasserre stood by her comments and in her final remarks said that it was her duty to protect those who face attacks.


Jalila Al Salman, Deputy Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers Union and who is currently still on trial for “attempting to overthrow the Government of Bahrain” along with Mahdi Abu Deeb, said “I was very uncomfortable about the daily reports in the loyal press.

It gives a bad feeling but I was very happy to hear our names in the UN room. It gave me the feeling that I am under the UN protection”.

Jalila and Mahdi’s case came before the courts again on Tuesday, but in the traditional warped style of Bahrain’s judicial system, the process was postponed again until 25th June. While Jalila remains free on bail, Mahdi, President of the Bahrain Teachers Union, continues to be held in prison where he has already spent more than 12 months.

Jalila Al Salman & Mahdi Abu Deeb

The judicial system used in this way is just another form of “slow psychological torture” to cause maximum distress, alternating with hope, and then more distress and maximum inconvenience to the prisoners and their families and supporters.

A video called “The Bleeding Pearl” documents both the recent and older history of the physical torture inflicted on Bahraini citizens. The victims speak eloquently of their dreadful experiences. 

More than one accuses Lieutenant Noora Al Khalifa, a member of the “royal family”, of directing and taking part in torture sessions. You can watch the video, HERE:

As yet, not one single person, senior or junior, has been held accountable for these gross acts of barbarity and in some cases, murder, and successfully prosecuted, though a number of trials of junior members of the security forces are in progress.

Protesters Show Pictures of Victims of Torture

Apart from everything else, sectarian abuse and targeting continues, despite the “protests of innocence” of the Government and frequent statements about what “huge strides towards democracy and freedom of expression” it is making, usually aimed at fooling the international community..

Good examples are statements in Istanbul made yesterday by Bahrain’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa at the “International Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations” held in Turkey and chaired by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his speech to the forum Sheikh Ali said that Bahrain “is a country of law, institutions and people’s participation in building communities… the kingdom continues to implement its commitment to the freedom of thought and expression, justice and cultural and religious diversity through cultural dialogue between civilisations”.

Which is a complete load of twaddle  when you know that Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned for sending out Tweets mentioning the Ministry of the Interior.

To emphasise the absurdity of the point, his supporters rallied behind him at a demonstration in Manama yesterday at which they displayed in large format dozens of Nabeel’s Tweets transmitted before his recent arrest.


On top of the Government’s delusional deception is their sheer sectarian vindictiveness.

Just one example of this are their attacks on students. Zainab Maklooq (24), Alaa Sayed (24) and Zahraa Zabar (23) were all medical students studying and living until last year at the Al-Damam University (King Faisal University) in Saudi Arabia.

Entrance to King Faisal University, Damman

On March 21st 2011, shortly after the outbreak of democracy demonstrations in Bahrain, the 3 students were requested by the Director of Al Dammam University housing, apparently on orders from the Saudi “Higher National Security Council”, to collect their personal belongings because they were to be immediately deported.

After being driven to the King Fahd causeway they were handed over to 5o masked security personnel from Bahrain, driven away in a mini-bus and verbally abused on the journey.

After 23 days in prison for made-up charges of “criticizing government symbols”, “inciting hatred towards the regime”, “organizing protests at the university” and “contacting foreign TV channels and disseminating misleading information” and 3 court appearances they were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Despite this the 3 students are banned from returning to Saudi Arabia to complete their studies. Zainab and Alaa were in their sixth year of study and just a few months away from graduating and Zahraa was in her fifth year.

Applications to other universities have been meet with the information that they will have to repeat at least 3 years of study.

Mahmood Habib is another Bahraini medical student who had a scholarship to the University of King Faisal in Saudi Arabia where he was in his last year of study and was about to take his final exam.

Shortly before this was about to happen he was told that complaints had been made against him by colleagues concerning supposed comments on the situation in Bahrain. He was suspended and has since been expelled. No crime, no trial, years of study wasted. You can read more of this (and worse) HERE:

EDITOR: As long as vicious sectarian persecution, based on flimsy and in some cases no evidence at all, continues in Bahrain, the kingdom will be the laughing stock of the world as civilised people see straight through its ridiculous and hypocritical posturing and its acts of sheer vindictiveness.

Support the campaign to get another of Bahrain’s “royal”, sectarian persecutors and torturers, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa barred from this year’s London Olympic by signing this petition, HERE:

The petition is also now on AVAAZ’s Community Petitions Front Page:

Protesters March in Solidarity With Rajab's Right to Tweet - Courtesy of @anmarek

British Monarch Dines With Despots





TIMELINE – 18th MAY 2012 11.37 GMT:

Today, Friday, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth ll will host a luncheon at Windsor Castle (EDITOR: Where my Mother used to wind-up the clocks strangely!) as part of her 60th Diamond Jubilee celebrations and those invited to attend will be “fellow royalty” from all around the world.

As I have pointed out a number of times, this business of “royalty” is entirely meaningless.

If you are classified as “royal” it is a genetic accident of birth and has nothing to do with merit or ability and certainly nothing to do with the ballot box and a popular vote.

There is just as much chance of a “complete idiot” growing up in a “royal family” as there is in any other. The difference is that a “royal idiot” will automatically be given power, money and prestige, while “a normal idiot” is likely to be recognised for what he is – an complete idiot!

And I am not talking about mental health here, but general incompetence.

Nor for a moment am I suggesting Queen Elizabeth is idiotic. As monarchs go she is generally well liked, works hard for the national good and acts as a non-politicised head of state, something that has distinct advantages over the presidential system where political leaders come and go and whose statements are often seen as controversial.

She is also constitutional head of 13 other states besides the UK.

Yet Queen Elizabeth also has no political power. All Acts of Parliament are passed on a majority vote by MPs and her signature on them to pass into law is merely ceremonial and legal and she has never refused one or attempted to amend it (EDITOR: As far as we know!).

But I do question her judgement, and that of her advisers, in inviting to this “royal” luncheon despots like King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa whose family have controlled Bahrain for almost 230 years.

King Hamad’s family members head the majority of government ministries enabling them to manipulate the judiciary, police, army, parliament, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and media and the prison system among other institutions.

The systematic abuses by the King and his family as a result of that have been well-documented on this website and in the media worldwide. 

(EDITOR: There is also no truth, I am assured, that all the seats at Windsor Castle have been re-inforced to accommodate the bulk of the Gulf States’ royal monarchs, many of whom are also Al Khalifa related dictators.)

Kinda Easy To Work Out What The Attraction of 14 Wives is Based On!

Another prize manipulator at this luncheon is King Mswati lll of Swaziland who I have written about extensively before (See “The Last Absolute Monarch in Africa” ).

King Mswati for a start has 14 wives (yes, 14 – that is not a misprint!) – and presumably also employs a domestic referee!

And while King Mswati’s net wealth is estimated at $100 million (peanuts compared with the estimated $3.2 billion of wealth attributed to King Hamad and the collective 100’s of $billions owned by all the monarchs at tomorrow’s luncheon), 80% of his population live on less that $2 dollars a day and at 25% of the population are infected with HIV, his country having the highest infection rate in the world.

King Mswati’s official annual allowance is in excess of $30 million dollars and his benign and sympathetic view on the large number of HIV victims in his country? They should be ““sterilised and branded” apparently, according to a view he expressed on the subject in a parliamentary debate in 2000.

So it begs the question, why is a supposedly intelligent woman such as Queen Elizabeth giving “house room” to humanitarian abusers of this magnitude?

Peter Tatchell, a long time UK based human rights campaigner, said the invitations were “a shocking misjudgement” that showed the Queen was “out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people .

Inviting blood-stained despots brings shame to our monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It is a kick in the teeth to pro-democracy campaigners and political prisoners in these totalitarian royal regimes.” I agree. The BBC has 2 video reports, HERE:


So while King Hamad, King Mswati and their ilk will be tucking into their substantial lunch of several courses today at Windsor Castle, political prisoners in their countries will be sitting in their cells contemplating another lost day and the infringement of their basic human right of self-expression.

Currently, after a series of middle-of-the-night raids and mass arbitary arrests in villages around the capital Manama, an estimated 900 political prisoners now languish idly in King Hamad’s prisons in Bahrain, among them leading human rights campaigners Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and Nabeel Rajab, former and current presidents of the Bahrain Centre for Human RIghts (BCHR).

AlKhawaja’s lawyer, Mohammed Al-Jishi, was finally allowed to visit his client again yesterday, the first time in 45 days. Despite entering today the 100th day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike, the lawyer said AlKhawaja was “well” and “Abdelhadi can walk. He is conscious and moves around normally”.

Al Jishi. confirmed that, “He is pursuing his hunger strike and subsides on liquids for his survival,” but added, “His health has slightly improved because he was force fed”. Until recently AlKhawaja had been kept at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital but on Tuesday was returned to Jaw prison, south of Manama.

Meanwhile, Nabeel Rajab appeared in court yesterday,Thursday, where he is charged with “insulting a statutory body via Twitter” and taking part in an “illegal” march 3 months ago.

Rajab told the judge at the Minor Criminal Court that, “The charge against me is vindictive and is due to my rights activism”, and insisted that the decision to arrest and try him was purely political.

In a demonstration of solidarity, more than 50 lawyers, both men and women, turned up at the court to defend Nabeel Rajab. The judge, playing the usual judicial games endemic to Bahrain, adjorned the session until Sunday and ordered that Rajab be kept in prison.

Joe Stork, the Middle East Director for Human Rights Watch, said, “The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government’s most prominent critics. Authorities should immediately drop these charges and release him”.

For an extensive overview of the human rights abuse charges levelled against Bahrain, read this official UN document compiled for the General Assembly by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 with contributions from 19 of its human rights stakholders, HERE:


EDITOR: Lastly, the petition I started to prevent Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, King Hamad of Bahrain’s son, from attending the 2012 London Olympics following extensive allegations of a sectarian campaign against Bahrain’s athletes and in some cases of personally torturing them, currently stands (11.00am, Friday 18th May – just 3 days after it started) at more than 7,500 signatures. Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain from attending the London Olympics 2012.
Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa is the President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee. As such he is entitled to attend all events …….

Interestingly, it is evident that the petition is being targeted by Bahrain Government agencies or supporters who are attempting to spoil it by automatically adding repeated names with multiple email addreses, over and over.

AVAAZ,org, the international campaigning group with more than 14 million members, who are hosting the petition and are well versed in these kind of anti-democratic cyber attacks, are monitoring the multiple signatures, identifying their source and removing them from the list.

You, as an individual, can give genuine support to this campaign by signing yourself, telling your friends on Facebook, forums, Twitter and other social media outlets and by sending an email to all your contacts.

An Email could read like this:

Subject: Prevent Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain from attending the London Olympics

“Hi, I just signed this petition — will you join me?

To: The UK’s Prime Minster, David Cameron and Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

The petition is really important and could use our help. Click HERE to find out more and sign:

Thanks so much, …………………….”

Many thanks to all those who have signed so far. We need many more. For further information go directly to the Petition Page, HERE:


BAHRAIN – News: Nasser, “Prince of Torture”, to Attend London Olympics as VIP




TIMELINE – 13th MAY 2012 11.37 GMT:

This week the Olympic torch was lit once again using the sun’s rays in a ceremony at the site of the very first games at Olympia in Greece to begin its journey to the Olympic stadium in London. The flaming torch will be carried to Athens by foot before being flown to London.

And on July 27th the torch will finally reach its destination at Stratford in East London where it will be used to ignite the Olympic flame to open the 2012 Olympic Games in the UK.

(EDITOR: I once carried a portable typwriter from Olympia to Athens in a 500 mile journey by foot across Greece. Not quite the same as a flaming torch I know – but a damn sight heavier and another [true] story for another day!)

Present at that ceromony will be the officials of the International Olympic Committee and all the presidents of the national olympic committees from countries around the world.

All of these officials will be given free access to every Olympic event, accomodation at a discounted rate at a luxury hotel in London and a chauffeur driven BMW to take them to and from the Olympic venue and around London.

One official to enjoy all of these priviliges will be Bahrain’s “sports ambassador”, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, aged 24, son of King Hamad of Bahrain and President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee.

Sheikh Nasser is very familiar with the UK having trained at Sandhurst, Britain’s world renowned military academy, and is now, despite any real military experience, the commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard.

Last year during the disturbances in Bahrain, Sheikh Nasser rang up a live broadcast on state TV and commenting on demonstrators said, “Anyone who called for the fall of the regime, may a wall fall on his head. Whether he is an athlete, socialite or politician — whatever he is — he will be held accountable . . . Bahrain is an island and there is nowhere to escape”.

You can see the video of the TV programme, with English sub-titles, HERE:

Just to show that this was no wild, hot -headed statement by an out-of-control young and inexperienced member of Bahrain’s “royal” family, the Government subsequently put Sheikh Nasser in charge of a committee that identified and targeted 150 Shi’ite sportsmen and officials, including international footballers and other well known sports stars.

The committee even went after disabled athletes, who were accused of opposing the regime.

Two of the victims of this sectarian persecution (EDITOR: Because that is what it is) were A’ala and Mohammed Hubail, brothers who were both in the Bahrain national football team, one a goalkeeper and the other a leading scorer. Both the players were arrested last year, subjected to torture and removed from the team.

Mohammed, who was capped 52 times for Bahrain, was sentenced to 2 years in prison by a military court last year but was subsequently released after several months in jail.

At the time the United Nations Human Rights Commisssion said that the trials of the Hubail brothers ‘appear to bear the marks of political persecution’ and FIFA, the world football authority, sent officials to investigate.

The Hubail brothers were only 2 of 30 footballers arrested plus 26 basketball players, 27 Handball players, 22 Volleyball players, 2 bodybuilders, 1 special needs athlete, 12 sports administrators and referrees and 5 sports journalists all taken into custody and many imprisoned and abused for lengthy periods.

Picture: Many think Alaa Hubail was persecuted for helping the injured in Sitra:

At the very least, most have had their lives completely disrupted and their sports careers wrecked. You can read further detail, HERE:

And their crime? Taking part in demonstrations calling for democracy – a human right in any civilised country.

When Mohammed Hubail received his 2 year sentence, Sheikh Nasser wrote on Twitter, “If it was up to me, I’d give them all life.”

To escape further embarassment, Sheikh Nasser has recently removed all his past Tweets from his Twitter Timeline.

Many others detained last year also report being tortured by Sheikh Nasser and other members of the “royal family”.

Specifically, Abdulla Isa Al-Mahroos, reported to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) that Sheikh Nasser Bin hamad Alkhalifa, beat him while he was in detention and then forced him to open his mouth and spat in it.

Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, a Islamic cleric who is also a Swedish citizen, described how when blindfolded and being tortured, suddenly everyone went silent and the words “your majesty” were heard.

A voice said, “Do you know who I am?”. When Al-Muqdad said “No”, his blindfold was removed and the man infront of him said “I’m Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. When you protested outside our castle in Safriya, only a wall separated us”.

Mohammed was asked what chants he had said at the protest that day. When Mohammed said “Down Down Hamad” Nasser slapped him and he fell to the ground. Sheikh Nasser then, it is reported, with the help of the other torturers, beat Mohammed severely.

Most of the torture sessions were said to have taken place in the underground cells of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) at Al Qala  in Manama.

Four other members of the “royal family”, including Sheikh Nasser’s brother Khalid and a female member, Shaikha Noura Al Khalifa, a MOI officer, are also accused of personal involvement in the torturing of detainees. For further information go to the BCHR site, HERE:

Andy Slaughter MP, chairman of the UK parliamentary group for democracy in Bahrain, has said, “Welcoming prominent members of the Khalifah regime accused of repression is a real blot on the Olympics”.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, says the government won’t hesitate to use its powers to extend London 2012 travel bans to individuals and officials with connections to “undesirable regimes” and Sheikh Nasser “would be closely assessed before being granted entry to Britain to attend the Games this summer”.

EDITOR: However, don’t hold your breath, the UK’s history of supporting bloody suppression in Bahrain is long and complicated and I will cover this further in another blog post.

Some say that sport, and the Olympics in particular, should not be mixed up with politics. I say that is an excuse to allow brutal and repressive regimes to get away with murder, often literally, and to show a face to the world that says they are “acceptable” when they are clearly not.

The world has changed. Governments that make compromises for self-serving reasons with oppressive, undemocratic governments, as the UK and the US do in Bahrain, will be increasingly challenged by an articulate, technology savvy, electorate worldwide.

Countries like China and Russia (and Bahrain) will be more likely to move towards reform in my view if they are told they will be excluded from international football, sports, Olympics, other competitions and international realtionships in general. Only being able to play sports with North Korea, another pariah state, and their friends must be boring to say the least.

Insolation and sanctions eventually bring a result, of which Burma is the latest country to decide to open its borders and government to reform as a result of co-ordinated international action.

Not only is Sheikh Nasser likely to be let quietly into the country to view the Olympics but his Father, King Hamad, is due to take part in Queen Elizabeth ll’s 60th Jubilee lunch at Windsor Castle on May 18th.

Unlike Bahrain, Queen Elizabeth has no political power whatsoever and acts as a useful constitutional monarch and non-politicised head of state.

Hopefully, Britain’s and Europe’s substantial human rights lobby will make their views loudly known when these two senior representatives of Bahrain’s torturing, repressive regime unfortunately show their faces in the UK.


While large demonstrations took place in Bahrain in support of Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, on Friday and Saturday this week, the Al Khalifa regime took futher steps to consolidate his imprisonment.

Yesterday he was remained in custody for a further 7 days and to the list of “charges” has been added an accusation that he “delivered a speech during a public gathering urging those present to stage a march, confront authorities and use violence against security forces.

He also allegedly incited them to escalate the situation to ensure that confrontations result in deaths”.

(EDITOR: Which is news to everyone else, including those organisations that have awarded him and the BCHR numerous prizes for their human rights work.)

According to the report, “an illegal rally was organised in Manama following his speech, on the same day, which resulted in disrupting public order, blocking roads and attacks against security personnel”. You can read the full report, HERE:

Nabeel is due in court again next Wednesday to answer charges “of insulting an official body” – “the MOI” apparently. Clearly, another series of sham trials and twisted, dishonest judicial proceedings is about to begin.

EDITOR: However how the Al Khalifa Governent hope to solve problems by doing this I do not know. Only at least another 397,000 members of the Shia community to arrest and prosecute on “prison island” left!

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