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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.

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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”.

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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: 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:

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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!

7

Democracy and Human Rights l Update

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Peter Clifford

31/3/11 Peter Clifford –

www.petercliffordonline.com:

Democracy and Human Rights l Update

Over the last 3 months I have highlighted Democracy and Human Rights issues in the Ivory Coast, Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China and elsewhere, so I thought it was time for an update. (See my previous post Democracy on the March)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rightsLIBYA: At the time of writing the Libya story struggles on as battles continue between the forces loyal to Gaddafi and the armed revolutionaries ranged against him. Clearly much of the world wants Gaddafi to go and many stories of human rights abuse by his troops have emerged and will continue to come out in the future.

One disturbing story this week was told by a young woman lawyer,  Iman al-Obeidi, who got through into the hotel where all the foreign journalists in Tripoli are based. She told the journalists that she had been gang – raped by 15 of Gaddafi’s troops but was quickly bundled away by officials and hotel staff before getting to tell her story in full.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

Iman al-Obeid - AVAAZ.org

At first called a “prostitute” by Libyan officials it later emerged that the Libyan Government had offered her family a house and money to keep her quiet.  She has not been seen since.

UPDATE 18th May 2011: Iman al-Obeidi apparently crossed into Tunisia earlier this month in the company of some defecting Libyan army officers and has since flown to Qatar and is safe.

To give you an idea of Gaddafi’s profound understanding of the human condition, here are a couple of extracts from his famed Green Book, the philosophical basis of the “revolution” that brought him to power:

“Freedom of expression is the right of every natural person, even if a person chooses to behave irrationally, to express his or her insanity”

“Women, like men, are human beings. This is an incontestable truth… Women are different from men in form because they are females, just as all females in the kingdom of plants and animals differ from the male of their species… According to gynaecologists women, unlike men, menstruate each month… Since men cannot be impregnated they do not experience the ailments that women do”

Yes….er…..well .!!. I think the sooner Gaddafi gives up the day job the better for all concerned in Libya, especially women!

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

Gaddafi Tank destroyed

Meanwhile, do we know exactly who the opposition forces are and what are their future intentions?   “A Vision of a Democratic Libya”, just published by the Libyan Interim Transitional Council in Benghazi looks promising and there is also a useful map (though not always up to date in this fast moving situation!) on the progress of the revolution on their website too.

Moussa Koussa’s (Gaddafi’s Foreign Minister) “defection” to London is also interesting – just whose side is he on?

IVORY COAST: 11/04/11   Breaking News Update: Following overnight attacks on the heavy weapons around his compound, Laurent Gbagbo this afternoon surrendered to Ouattara’s forces and has been taken to the Golf Hotel, Ouattara’s  UN defended HQ, under arrest.

If you read my previous post Prevent War With Chocolate, you will know that the conflict in the Ivory Coast has been caused by the former president Laurent Gbagbo refusing to stand down after losing the election to his democratically elected opponent Alassane Ouattara.

AVAAZ, the pressure group, organised a campaign to get the world’s major chocolate manufacturers to, temporarily at least, boycott purchases of cocoa from the Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer, so that Gbagbo could not fund his army.

Clearly this has not worked as hostilities have now broken out between the two parties and their supporting groups and armed professionals are involved.

Ouattara’s New Forces have swept down from the North and taken over several towns, while Gbagbo, supported by the army has imported mercenaries from Liberia and shelled Ouattara supporters in Abidjan, the capital.  Atrocities are being reported on both sides.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

UN Struggle in the Ivory Coast

The people of the Ivory Coast have been here before, having suffered years of civil war prior to a ceasefire in 2007. UNHCR estimates that a million people have already fled their homes this time and a UN peacekeeping force of 9,000 stands by helplessly, under equipped and with no proper mandate to intervene.

Neighbouring countries such as Mali, Liberia and Ghana are being swamped with refugees and at least 800 people have already been killed since December. In the latest developments Ouattara’s New Forces have taken Yamoussoukro, a regional centre, and the key cocoa exporting port of San Pedro.  Gbagbo is left only with parts of Abidjan.

The United Nations has just past a UN resolution imposing sanctions on Gbagbo and his family until his sources of revenue dry up and he is forced to stand down.

Unfortunately this conflict does not have the high profile of Gaddafi and Libya, despite the fact that just as many civilians will suffer in the long run and another, once very prosperous country, will be wrecked.

TUNISIA: Mohamed BouaziziRemember that name. Mohamed was a  Tunisian street seller of fruit and vegetables who, sick to the teeth of corruption, harassment and humiliation by local officials and the police, set himself on fire on December 17th 2010 and sparked the demonstrations that led to the overthrow of the Tunisian President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

The Revolutions Started in Tunisia

From that one act everything in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and right across the Middle East has followed and still continues.

While the interim President Fouad Mebazaa has announced the date of an election in July for representatives who will rewrite the constitution, unrest still continues and arrest warrants have been issued for the former president and his family who are believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia.

BAHRAIN: Democracy and Human Rights have been a hotly debated issue in this tiny Gulf State (100 times smaller than the Irish Republic!) since the events in Tunisia and Egypt.  Every revolution has its own particular flavour and ingredients and Bahrain is no exception.

Here there is an enormous division between the minority, ruling Sunni elite and the majority Shia population who feel dispossessed and under represented.  Median age in Bahrain is 30, while youth unemployment is almost 20%. At the same time literacy rates run at 91% – all part of the potent mix for revolution in the modern age.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

Protesters in Bahrain

The root of the problems here is that almost 70% of the population is Shia Muslim, while the nearly 30% Sunni Muslim self appointed ruling class have 90% of the power and most of the wealth and virtually all of the most valuable land.

Gerrymandered electoral districts have always ensured that the Shia electorate ended up with a minority of seats in the legislative body. Women do have the vote but very few get elected.

The ruling Al – Khalifa family has been in power since 1820 and its members still hold most of the most important government positions.  Indeed,  Sheik Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifah, the uncle of the Crown Prince, has been Prime Minister of Bahrain for 40 years! (Thank God that could never happen in the UK!).

The ruling family also contains such leading lights as Sheikh Abdulrahman Mubarak Hamad Al Khalifa who, according to the London Telegraph has been taken to court in both London and Bahrain for the repayment of gambling debts owed to the betting firm Spreadex for the princely sum of £270,000.  No doubt he worked really hard to be able to gamble away such wealth.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

Protesters Hold Pearl Roundabout

On February 14th 2011 the pot finally boiled over when protesters marched through the capital Manama and a month of unrest followed with more than 20 killed and 100’s wounded, many of whom declined to seek treatment as many doctors and staff at the world renowned Salmaniya Hospital, according to media reports, were threatened, arrested or prevented from treating protesters.

The protests are also embarassing for the US Navy as the island is also the home of its Fifth Fleet.

The Bahrain government’s answer to all this was to import 1,000 soldiers from its neighbour Saudi Arabia, suppress all further demonstration and to demolish the monument at the Pearl Roundabout which had been the focus of rebellion.

I doubt if any of that will solve the underlying problem, which is a pity as Bahrain has a reputation as one of the more “open minded” Gulf States.

YEMEN: What started as a protest by students has now escalated into a full scale insurrection. It has also, significantly, the support of a large number of women, in what has been until now a very conservative society.

On March 13th snipers killed 52 people and their families have since been offered money by the government to keep quiet.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

Protester in Yemen

The protesters are demanding that President Saleh, who has been in power for more than 30 years, stands down, along with 25 members of his family – the usual cosy family arrangement exploiting the people they control. Another more sinister factor is that Al -Quaeda certainly have a presence in the country as well.

After six weeks of protest, many people want the President put on trial, especially after the fatal sniper incident.  At the moment there is stalemate – but there is certainly more to come.

EGYPT: Egypt, though coming after the revolution in Tunisia, has undoubtedly set the standard for protesters to maintain their peaceful stance and use the sheer force of numbers to promote change.

Nevertheless and estimated 685 people were killed in the revolution here and an uneasy truce remains between the protesters and what remains of the security services and police.

Police officers are slowly returning to the streets but many are unwelcome and a number of former ministers and security officials are to stand trial for killing protesters during the unrest.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/human-rights

The Domino Effect

It remains to be seen whether the controlling Army Council will carry through its promises or whether it is just going through the motions in order to protect its own interests.  They can expect an angry backlash if they don’t give the people what they want.

Parliamentary elections will take place in September and the presidential election within two months after. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose  more extreme elements many fear, has said it will not field a presidential candidate.

In my previous post, I commented on democracy and human rights in relation to Egyptian Women.  I see this as the “heart” of the Arab revolution.

Unless the rights of women change, then in reality nothing changes, the Muslim world will still be locked in the past and wasting 50% of their human resource.

FOR FURTHER UPDATES ON DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS, ESPECIALLY IN SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA AND CHINA click CONTINUE ………

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Peter Clifford: www.petercliffordonline.com

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