This week, reflecting the farcical state of “justice” in Bahrain, I sent the petition letter “Prevent Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa From Attending the London Olympics 2012”, to David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. This is what I said:
TO: David Cameron, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA
“Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to draw your attention to more than 10,137 people who have signed my online petition calling on the British government to prevent Prince Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain from entering the United Kingdom to attend the London Olympics.
The petition reads:
‘We, the undersigned, urge the UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Jacques Rogge of the IOC, to ban Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa from the 2012 Olympics in London, on the grounds of substantial and documented allegations of the sectarian persecution of athletes and his personal involvement in their torture – all of which is completely against the Olympic Charter of ‘preserving human dignity’ and allowing everyone ‘to practice sport without discrimination’.
I started this campaign with Community Petitions, an online petition platform hosted by global campaigning community AVAAZ. Since launching this petition, over 10,000 people have joined my call, including thousands of citizens of the United Kingdom and Bahrain.
Sheikh Nasser is the son of Bahrain’s ruling King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, one of the dictators who has tried to crush the Arab Spring with force. Bahraini athletes allege that Sheikh Nasser has used his platform as head of the country’s Olympic Committee to ensure that athletes in particular have been punished if they dissent.
Sheikh Nasser is alleged to be behind the committee that targeted 150 athletes and sports officials for their democratic views and which subsequently wrecked the lives and sporting careers of many of them.
Several of the protesters have also claimed that they were personally tortured by Sheikh Nasser after their arrests for peaceful demonstrations and detailed allegations have been made against him in court. A description of these can be found at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights website: http://www.bchr.net/en/node/5346
I believe that these testimonies are both reliable and credible and documentation has already been submitted to your officials from the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
There should be no place for him in the United Kingdom or at the London Olympics.
Despite the BICI report the Al Khalifa Government is particularly good at making pretence of doing one thing and continuing to the do the opposite. Human rights abuses and imprisonment purely on sectarian grounds, based on trumped up charges, continue on a daily basis.
The continued jailing of human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi AlKhawaja on fabricated charges rather proves the point.
Last Saturday 14th July more than 200 people, including myself, demonstrated outside the Bahraini and Saudi embassies to bring attention to the plight of the above and hundreds of other political prisoners in Bahrain.
The UK Government makes much of human rights abuse and lack of democracy and justice in Syria, China, North Korea, Iran and elsewhere but shamefully fails to say anything even vaguely critical of Bahrain allowing its own self–interest to take precedence.
The petition can be viewed online at:http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/To_Prevent_Sheikh_Nasser_bin_Hamad_alKhalifa_of_Bahrain_from_attending_the_London_Olympics_2012/?wNnUgbbrom_attending_the_London_Olympics_2012/
I am happy to provide you with the names and countries of all 10,137 signers at your request.
Yours sincerely, Peter Clifford”
I also sent similar letters to:
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, 70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS.
William Hague, Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH.
Damian Green MP, Minister of State for Immigration, Home Office, Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Alistair Burt MP, Minister Responsible for Bahrain, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH.
And finally: Jacques Rogge, President International Olympic Committee, Chateau De Vidy, Case Postale 356; 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Feel free to do the same and use all or any part of the letter.
In a letter of reply to my own local MP, who raised the issue previously on my behalf, Alistair Burt said, “Our policy is clear that accreditation shall be refused to any individual who may present a safety or security risk, where their presence at the Games or in the UK would not be conducive to the public good or if there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that they have committed human rights abuses.”
In the case of Sheikh Nasser, the chances are that the British Government will let him into the UK and allow him to take part in the Olympic Games, wriggling out of the issue by saying complaints about him are not “independently verified”.
As long as the UK (and the US) is hypocritical about Bahrain, condemning human rights abuse elsewhere but remaining silent when it is carried out by one of its strategic allies, then nothing will change.
However, the point has been made, Sheikh Nasser’s alleged crimes recorded – and they will be on the Internet forever for succeeding generations to see, recall and remember.
BAHRAIN’S FARCICAL JUDICIARY:
FARCE 1: Younis Ashoori is a 61 year old hospital administrator, whose only “crime” appears to be that he, on orders from a superior, supplied oxygen cylinders to injured protesters in March 2011.
For this, and other trumped up charges he was condemned to 3 years in prison by a military court.
He is unwell, suffers severe pain from kidney stone problems and other complications and has been dragged back to court for a decision on his appeal no less than 10 TIMES!
His next appearance in court in this continuing psychological and emotional torture is on 25th July.
You can sign a petition calling for Younis’ release, HERE:
FARCE 2 : Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been jailed for 3 months for sending out comments on Twitter which the Al Khalifa Government does not like (EDITOR: I don’t suppose they like mine much either!).
He is also due in court to face other charges which are likely to prolong his stay in prison.
His family have been told they cannot visit him until August.
Meanwhile police officers, accused and on trial for murder, are allowed out from court and free to go home every night.
In one case, an unnamed 22 year old Bahraini policeman is accused of killing Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, 21, with a shotgun (euphemistically called a “pellet gun” in the Gulf Daily News report).
The police officer claims that he shot Ali Mushaima “accidentally” from 10 metres away, despite the fact that another officer says it was only 3 metres and Ali was shot in the back.
But this officer can go home every night to his comfortable bed and his air conditioned home. Younis Ashoori and many other prisoners in Jaw Prison are sweltering in temperatures which can exceed 45 C as part of the air conditioning system there is not functioning and conditions are crowded.
SUCH IS THE FARCICAL STATE OF “JUSTICE” IN BAHRAIN!