Category Archives for Bahrain






For months now the loyal fans of British football club Leeds United have been waiting not for news of the latest new player signing but for the details of a proposed takeover of their club by middle-east investors. Is this another “dodgy deal”?

Leeds United Elland Road Football Ground – Reuters

A member of the Bahraini royal family, Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Hamad Al Khalifa, who claimed to have “fallen in love with the club when he was 11 years old”, tried to take over Leeds United in 2003.

More recently he has been named as being involved with a consortium that has been negotiating with the football club’s owner – 80 year old Ken Bates – all summer.

Sheikh Abdulrahman is also well known in the UK for an alleged betting debt in excess of £350,000 (BHD207,230 or $565,000) which he is reputed to have owed to the British betting firm Spreadex since 2008. (See previous article: “Fake Sheikhs and Bahrain’s Fake Olympic Team” )

In the murky world of Middle East finance, it is likely that the Sheikh is still involved somewhere along the line, but his name was not mentioned when it was announced this week that an outfit called “GFH Capital” from Dubai have signed an agreement to take over the club.

Although financial details have not been released, it is thought the price the group is paying for Ken Bates shareholding is around £50 million (BHD 30,274,234 or $80.8 million dollars).

Four businessmen associated with GFH Capital attended last week’s game at the Elland Road ground, when Leeds beat Nottingham Forest 2-1, including the deputy chief executive officer of GFH Capital, David Haigh, and their chief investment officer, Salem Patel.

While Leeds United is currently in the second tier Championship League, it has potential to move up to the Premier League in the future.

According to Patel, one of the their interests in the football club is that, despite having financial troubles in the past, it currently has no debt other than its ongoing lease.

GFH Capital hope to acquire the Elland Road site at some time in the future.

But their main interest is without a doubt that as from next season broadcasting rights for Premium League clubs will be a minimum of £60 million. 

If Leeds, to the delight of their fans no doubt, can return to the top league, then £60 million would soon cover any interest payments that GFH Capital will probably be paying on money they will have borrowed to buy the club in the first place.


Apart from David Haigh (whose parents were from Leeds apparently and who also set up the political group “Conservatives in the Gulf” ) and Salam Patel, also present at last week’s game in Ken Bates’ director’s box was Hisham Alrayes, currently acting CEO of Gulf Finance House (GFH) of Bahrain.

GFH are 100% owners of GFH Capital, its subsidiary, and GFH’s  Chairman, Esam Janahi, who was unavailable for last week’s meeting with Bates for “personal reasons”, has a long history of financial dealing across the Middle East, India and beyond.

Leeds Deal – Another Red Card?

However, red cards have been raised over the ability of GFH, which has suffered from the world economic crisis and in particular from falling land prices in Bahrain, to properly fund the Leeds deal.

Exotix, an investment firm that specialises in distressed assets, says in a research note that GFH is at “serious risk of default” and that its operations were not producing significant cash enabling it to pay future debts. “We remain wary of GFH’s ability to carry on as a going concern …” the research note continued.

According to Exotix, GFH has total debt amounting to $252 million and in May it received permission from creditors to restructure a $110 million debt that was outstanding.

A letter dated May 14 from the group’s auditors, KPMG, apparently says GFH “had accumulated losses of $300.69 million contractual obligations… and its current contractual obligations exceeded its liquid assets”.  In other words, GFH already owes more than the value of any saleable assets that it holds.

While GFH Capital is a separate legal entity with its own funds and balance sheet, some are concerned that it plans to purchase Leeds with debt that could be put on the club’s balance sheet, an approach used in several foreign takeovers of English football clubs, notably Liverpool and Manchester United. More in the Independent, HERE:


GFH is well known in Bahrain for building the twin glass towers in the Financial Harbour district of Manama, the capital, a controversial development whose expensive office blocks remain largely empty.

According to an article published by Reuters in June 2011, “Land in the Gulf Arab region is largely controlled by a small number of ruling families who use it as a kind of currency, doling out plots to favored families and developers to forge political relationships and make money.

Esam Janahi – The New Owner of LUFC?

For it to work, the system depends on businessmen like Janahi, merchants who ostensibly operate independently from the state but whose success rests, at least in part, on political connections”.

“Our investigation shows,” continues Reuters, “The company charged investors huge markups on land deals and took out enormous up-front fees. 

Such fees are legal in the Gulf but western bankers say they would be highly unusual in Europe or the United States, where the industry collects big payouts only when a project is successfully built and sold.

Documents obtained show that GFH, which has teetered on the brink of collapse for several months [2011], also sometimes shifted investor money from one project to plug holes in another. The documents also suggest that GFH’s property projects were hurt by blurred lines between the personal interests of Janahi [the Chairman] and GFH itself. Investments and payments seemed to move back and forth between the two with very little scrutiny”.

Reuters says that “investors in GFH have been left with huge losses — $1.07 billion in 2009 and 2010 — and plenty of questions about whether the company’s myriad projects were ever going to be built in the first place”.

More recently GFH reported a profit of $4.7 million in the 2nd quarter of 2012, compared with a loss of $11.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

Bahrain’s Prime Minister for 42 Years

There are also questions around the connections of Bahrain’s dictators, the Al Khalifa family with GFH.

Documents shown to Reuters suggest that the “Ministry of Finance transferred the land on which GFH built its towers to the Bahrain Financial Harbour Company in 2003.

Bankers with knowledge of the deal say Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has governed Bahrain since independence four decades ago, granted the land in return for a 50 percent stake in the project. The other 50 percent was owned by GFH”.

The Bahrain Financial Harbour Company is chaired by Sheikh Rashid Khalifa Hamad al-Khalifa, the antique Prime Minister’s son-in-law, just another member of the ruling family that holds 50% of the Government’s cabinet positions and controls almost every other aspect of Bahrain’s political life, economy, judiciary, military and security forces and its media.

“Local bankers estimate GFH raised a total of $5 billion between 2002 and 2011 – much of that money is still locked up in unfinished projects”. You can read much more detail of on GFH’s “dodgy deals” in the Reuters special report, HERE:

For the majority of Bahrainis, the Financial Harbour and companies like GFH have come to symbolise everything they hate about the Al Khalifa Government, accusing it of corruption, lack of transparency, torture, human rights abuse and the trial of dissidents who oppose it, on false charges.

Commenting on the takeover of Leeds United by the Bahraini financial conglomerate, Gary Cooper, Chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Trust, said, “We’re hoping for investment in the team and for Leeds United to be glorious again”.

Leeds was relegated from the Premier League in 2004. With the right investment, good management and purchasing power to buy more first-class players, it stands a chance of making a significant come back.

However, given the risks with GFH, lets hope its fans are not left yet again with a club weighed down with financial problems – but this time with the added tarnish of being run and financed by leading members of one of the world’s most suppressive dictatorships.

(Bahrain is 173 out of 179, just below China, Iran and Syria on the Press Freedom Index and 144 out of 167, three places below China, on the Democracy Index at the time  of writing)




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.

Nabeel Rajab Facing Long Prison Term

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!)

Information Affairs Minister Samera Rajab – GDN

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.

Samera Rajab Expresses Her Admiration for Dictator Sadam Hussein

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.

Abdulhadi AlKhawaja

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.



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.

Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Hamad Al Khalifa

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.

Things did not work out too well and the horses were returned to their stables and Spreadex, despite appeals to the Bahrain Royal family, has been unable to get the money it is owed.

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.


“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.

Sheikh Nasser and Friends at the Olympics

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.

Members of the Olympic Team – Just One Bahraini

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.


Three of Bahrain’s 20 Imprisoned Athletes

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.


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.

Drunk Bahrain Sheikh Arrested on BA Flight

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 



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:

Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa

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.

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:

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.



“Do Not Forget Younis Ashoori”

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.

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!).

Nabeel Rajab – “Sumood” (Steadfast)

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.



BAHRAIN: Persecution of Adults Not Enough – Children Now Under Fire







In a week that has seen a 11 year old released after more than 1 month in detention, more children arrested, some in the middle of the night, and now yesterday a small child serously injured with birdshot, Bahrain’s Opposition Tweeters can be forgiven for asking on Twitter whether the Al Khalifa Government has “run out of grown-ups to arrest and shoot?”.

Ali Hassan After His Release

Ali Hassan, the 11 year old (sometimes reported as 12) was released on bail on Monday this week after being initially imprisoned and then held in a juvenile detention centre.

While in detention the six grade student was forced to take his exams while behind bars, not the most conducive environment for clear thinking and exam preparation. All Ali wanted to do was to go home and be with his Mum.

Ali is still charged with “illegal gathering” and “rioting” and accused of trying to block the street against entry by police into his village, and will have to return to court on 20th June.

The youngster says he was just playing in the street with 2 friends when they were chased by plaincloths police. When Ali fell over while trying to escape, he was taken away and unecessarily incarcerated. You can hear his own testimony in this Al Jazeera interview, HERE:

Policewomen Smirk at Despondent Mother after Arresting Her Son

As Ahlam Oun points out an “illegal gathering” is a meeting together of 5 people or more, which would of course make many family meetings “against the law”.

In her blog post Ahlam suggests that this has become the authorities “quick-fix” to neutralise anyone they don’t like, but conversely they fail to prosecute anyone who supports them when the Al Fateh movement for example hold an unlicensed rally.

There have also been numerous reports of villages being raided this week by police in the middle of the night, especially between the hours of 1.30 and 4.30 am.

The raids seem systematic and deliberate, one by one targeting in the last 7 days the villages of Salmabad, Daih, Jidhafs, Al Musala, Aali, Sanabis, Sitra, Buri, Muharraq, Duraz, Bilad Al Qadeem and many more and arresting people while they are still half asleep.

The raids are often noisy, aggressive and violent and almost always without a warrant to arrest.

Ali Ashoor, shown here, is 16 years old and has been detained since January 5th. He is currently the youngest prisoner in Jaw prison.

Ali Ashoor 16 Year Old in Jaw Prison -Courtesy @jihankazerooni

Yesterday Hassan AlSamea, 12 years old, was dragged away from his mother and arrested despite her attempts to prevent it.

The despondent face of Hassan’s Mother and those of the smirking female police officers having succeeded in their task, say it all.

12 Year Old Dragged Away From His Mother


Worst of all this week is the shooting of a 4 year old child (earlier reported as 5 years old.

EDITOR: Can someone tell me why there are always problems in Bahrain getting ages right?)

Ahmed Naham was sitting in the street with his Father who was selling fish, as photographic evidence confirms.

Mr. Naham says the police coming down the street told them to “go away” but as he prepared to pick up his child, a policeman opened fire. The 4 year old now has 2 pellets in his left eye and more in other parts of his body. The father has pellets in his thigh, stomach and arms. Video on the Internet shows police carrying the boy away, closely followed by his father.

Father & 4 Year Old Shot By Police

After arriving at the Salmaniya Medical complex, police and security service personnel prevented people and some members of the family from speaking to the father or seeing the little boy.

He is now undergoing treatment.

EDITOR: It seems very evident to me that this is a new tactic – target children and indirectly intimidate their parents in the hope that they will keep their offspring away from protests. Fat chance – far too late for that! Sumood.


But of course, the persecution of adults in the Shia community in Bahrain does not stop either. This morning,Thursday, while nine of the medics who have been on trial for over a year in military and civil courts, were acquitted of all charges, nine others were convicted.

Those acquitted following a series of internationally condemned and farcical trials were Zahra AlSammak, Hassan AlTublani,
Fatima Haji, Nada Dhaif, Ahmed Omran, Rola AlSaffar, Najah Khalil, Mohammed AlShehab and Sayed Marhoon.

However, the following were found guilty, albeit with reduced sentences, Ali AlEkri (5 years), Ghassan Dhaif (1 year), Mahmood Asghar (6 months), Bassem Dhaif (1 month), Ebrahim AlDemistani (3 years), (Nader Diwani and Abdulkhaliq AlOraibi (both 1 month), Dhiaa AbuIdrees (2 months) and Saeed AlSamaheeji (1 year).

Some of the Drs Imprisoned or Acquitted Today

Two other medics did not appear in court to appeal their 15 year sentences, having either gone abroad or underground in Bahrain.

The court threw out some of the most serious charges such as “occupying the Salmaniya hospital” and “possessing weapons”, piles of which, including chains, a sword and an AK 47, were brought into court at a previous hearing.

“This is an unjust ruling,” Twefik Dhaif, the uncle of two of the convicted medics said.

“These are the elite doctors in this country. We have 15 doctors in my family, and most of the people they have treated were Al Khalifas,” referring to Bahrain’s controlling family. You can read Al Jazeera’s report, HERE:

Clearly this has nothing to do with justice. Everyone knows that all the medics did was help treat the injuries of protesters in very difficult circumstances.

Reducing sentences and freeing some is the best the Bahrain Government and judicial system can come up with in the face of continued international criticism and in an a pathetic attempt to save face. And it is not enough.

Donna McKay, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, said after the verdict, “It is a travesty of justice that the trials continued and that the medics are now sentenced to jail time”.

Dr. Nada Dhaif, the only one of the doctors on trial allowed to travel, spoke at a demonstration in Dublin on 12rh June, HERE: supported by other speakers such Jamila Hanan (aka Frankie Dolan), HERE:  Respect to you both for your clear statements.


And the injustice continues. Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was due in court again this week but was remanded in prison again, without a court visit, until 18th June. He is also due in court on 19th May on another charge, but no-one will be surprised if that hearing is delayed also.

All part of the not-so-sophisticated sadistic mental torture practiced by the Al Khalifa Government.

Ahmed Aoun, an imprisoned 17 year old student, who had a police shotgun pellet embedded in his right eye, was denied an operation at the end of May, but now 2 weeks later the surgery has been carried out. The delay may have cost him his sight.

He was originally arrested while receiving treatment at a private hospital for his injuries which were sustained while supporting a peaceful demonstration.

Sayed Hadi Al Musawi – Courtesy BJDM

Now comes news that Sayed Hadi Al Musawi, a former Opposition MP who recently gave testimony at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva during Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on human rights, has been called for questioning today at the Public Prosecutor’s office following a complaint by the Ministry of Interior.

At the time of the UPR hearing local loyalist media in Bahrain referred to the participants as “traitors” and they were threatened with prosectuion by the Minister of Interior himself.

The Bahrain Justice and Development Movement, who also attended the UPR session, said “Regardless of whether this relates to Sayed Hadi’s involvement in the UPR there is no justification for the call for investigation. Sayed Hadi is an opposition activist and human rights defender who has always worked within the framework of the law.

This is is another attempt to try to silence the opposition and does not constitute a serious attempt by the authorities to take the country out of the current crisis.”


In addition to all that the likely direction of further arrests and prosecutions is indicated by a statement reported in the press by the recently appointed Minister of State for Information Affairs, Samira Rajab.

Samira Rajab Expresses Her Admiration for Dictator Sadam Hussein

Samira Rajab, a past supporter of dictator Sadam Hussein apparently, said that Bahrain is set to introduce tough new laws to combat the “misuse” of social media.

Claiming that action was necessary to “guarantee the security of the state”, the minister said, “We have a right to punish those who indulge in seditious behaviour and create disunity among the people.

We have to think of how to protect our national security. We have these new threats and we have to see how we can tackle those threats”.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy, she asserted that “social media had been and continues to be abused by the so-called human rights activists”, citing claims “that drowning victims had been killed by torture” and that “sickel cell victims” had been killed by security forces.

(EDITOR: Though independent examination of victims in both those cases has indicated that the victims had been severely tortured before death.)

Compounding the Al Khalifa Government’s inane and immature ability to understand the rights of individuals to self-expression in the modern world, the King, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a meeting at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Command Headquarters.

Also present at the family gathering were Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, State Minister for Defence Affairs Lieutenant General Dr. Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and BDF Chief of Staff Major General Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa.

King Attends Another Tedious Family Gathering – BNA

In his speech to the officers present, the King said yesterday, “Our armed forces are the protectors of the nation’s achievements and everybody must know that whoever disrespects the forces or its leaders is in fact abusing us”.

We cannot tolerate,” the King continued, “Any irreverence of our beliefs, social values and armed forces in the name of freedom of expression. All competent executive agencies have to take the necessary measures to address these violations in accordance with the law”.

TRANSLATION: “Criticise the armed forces, police or security forces and we will take that personnally and make up new laws to prosecute you for defamation”. For the oppressed in Bahrain it does not get any easier.

BAHRAIN: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and Continued Human Rights Abuse






TIMELINE – 7th JUNE 2012 12.55 GMT:

Bahrain’s Ambassador to France, Dr Nasser Mohammed Al Balooshi (EDITOR: English spelling of the surname confirmed by the Gulf Daily News today) yesterday denied “unfounded allegations” that he had groped a domestic worker at his up-market residence in the Paris suburb of Neuilly.

Ambassador Balooshi With Wary Embassy Staff

On Tuesday the French police had announced that they had opened an initial investigation into claims by a 44 year old domestic worker that the Ambassador had groped her and attempted rape on a number of occasions between July 2010 and October 2011.

The woman, whose husband has also lodged a complaint, was fired shortly afterwards.

The alleged victim also says that the Ambassador’s son threatened her with a gun in September 2010.

A statement released by the Bahrain embassy in Paris yesterday said, “His Excellency Nasser Al Balooshi, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to France, forcefully refutes the inaccurate and unfounded allegations of assault that former domestic workers have made against him and his son,” and added that the ambassador was available to French investigators “to shed light on these false accusations.”

The initial inquiry is to determine the veracity of the allegations. It could lead to charges, the appointment of an investigating judge, or no further action.

Back in Bahrain, unable to completely ignore the international media reporting of the incident, both the official Bahrain Government News Agency (BNA) and the leading English language paper, Gulf Daily News (GDN), played down the report.

In 7 short lines the BNA reported  that his “Excellency … forcefully refutes the inaccurate and unfounded allegations” and without any investigation has already decided that these were “false allegations”.

The GDN rather naively headlined the report “Harassment Case Envoy Skips Work”, as though he had rather naughtily just decided to  take a day off without permission.

Again in a short 8 line report it repeated the outline of the alleged allegation and then said, “An embassy official told the GDN that Dr Balooshi did not show up for work yesterday, without commenting further” and , “Officials at Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment”.

(EDITOR: They had all obviously “skipped work” for the day as well suffering from an acute outbreak of “dire embarrassment”.)

The Gulf Daily News also pointed out that Dr. Balooshi is Bahrain’s permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.


What the state news agency or the GDN have not mentioned (neither being part of a free press) is that Dr. Nasser Ballooshi is the brother of Dr. Fatima Balooshi, who until Tuesday was Bahrain’s Minister of Human Rights and Social Development.

Dr Fatima Balooshi – Embarrassed Sister? – GDN

Since Tuesday, when the reports from Paris first surfaced, Dr. Fatima Balooshi is now only the “Minister of Social Development”, “Human Rights” having “gone out the window” and  hastily dropped by royal degree from both her official title and the name of the Ministry.

Co-incidence? Or has a family “human rights abuse” “accident” caused the Minister and the Bahrain Government acute embarrassment?

Any bets on how long before the “ambassador” is recalled to Manama?

Another Tweet received this morning comments on Dr Naser Balooshi’s former post as Director of Administration at the Bahrain Central Bank, where he is reported to have been reluctant to recruit Shia employees and to have “used the bank drivers to serve him and his family”. “He treated them bad”, says the Tweeter.

Nasser Al-Balooshi was also formally Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States. Apparently, the Balooshi family originates from Iranian Balochistan, a Sunni area in conflict with the Shia Government of Iran.

(EDITOR: And which is why the Al Khalifa Government employs Shia-hating mercenaries from the Balochistan area in Pakistan to work for them as policemen.)


Talking of HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (1), here is a picture of 11 year old Ali Hassan, now detained in Bahrain police custody for more than 3 weeks for “participating in an illegal gathering”.

Ali Hassan, 11 Year Old Detained for 3 Weeks

(EDITOR: Perhaps he and “Ambassdor Balooshi could swop places? I am sure Ali would be much better behaved.)

Yesterday, Ali is reported to have told his lawyer, “I just want to go home!”.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (2): According to reports, Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was arrested in court again yesterday for Tweeting messages allegedly “insulting” the residents of the Sunni dominated neighbourhood of Muharraq.

In a complaint registered with the Public Prosecutor’s office, 24 retired police officers who live in Muharraq accused Nabeel Rajab of casting doubt on their patriotism and allegedly suggesting the people of Muharraq were “government stooges”.

(EDITOR: The retired policemen obviously have too much time on their hands!)

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (3): It is reported from the Dry Docks Prison that 50 detainees have gone on hunger strike in protest at the continued refusal of the authorities to allow imprisoned demonstrator Ahmed Oun to have scheduled medical treatment for the removal of a shotgun pellet in his eye.

Ahmed Oun, a 17 year old student, was injured after being fired at with a police shotgun whilst taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration and was arrested shortly afterwards after seeking medical help at a private hospital.

Surgery was arranged for the 29th May but Ahmed has been prevented by the authorities from having that treatment. Every second counts. If the pellet is not removed shortly, doctors say he could well lose his sight permanently.

Ahmed is in severe pain, has bleeding from the eye and is reported to have fainted on several occasions.

Since the Formula 1 event in Bahrain in April the use of birdshot directly fired at protesters has increased significantly, causing loss of sight in a number of demonstrators and at least one death.

There is an #EYE4FREEDOM demonstration in Bahrain today, in support of all those who have lost an eye in the struggle for freedom in Bahrain and specifically to demand treatment for Ahmed Oun.


Ahmed Oun in Private hospital Shortly Before His Arrest. – BCHR


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.

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 50 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.

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.

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”.


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.

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”.

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!

BAHRAIN’s Medieval Rulers Lurch Further to the Right:






TIMELINE – 7th MAY 2012 12.35 GMT:

In what appears to be another lurch further towards the right, Bahrain’s oligarchy (rule by the few) has charged Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), with “inciting illegal rallies and marches online by using social networking websites” and posting “defamatory and humiliating depictions of the public security forces”.

Nabeel Rajab - BCHR

In other words, it is no longer safe to express your personal views on anything in Bahrain on Twitter unless you are a supporter of the government and opposed to the Opposition.

As Marc Owen Jones has pointed out in his recent blog post  the BICI report mentioned the Twitter account @7areghum which last year during the disturbances openly targeted Opposition supporters, naming them personally and even revealing their whereabouts, but of course nothing was done. Anything that damages the Opposition is fine by the Bahrain Government apparently.

But Nabeel Rajab is guilty, before trial, according to the Public Prosecutor of “cyber-incitement [which] proved detrimental as [it] fuelled rioting, road blocking, arsons, acts of sabotage targeting public and private properties, in addition to the use of Molotov cocktail incendiary bombs.

The inquiry has also revealed compelling evidence on the defendant’s role in instigating, online, acts targeting policemen whilst on duty, leaving some of them injured”.

Rajab, Current Holder of Ion Ratiu Democracy Award

EDITOR: To the best of my knowledge, Nabeel Rajab, has never advocated violence as a solution to Bahrain’s problems but has only encouraged peaceful demonstration.

That others may have taken advantage of that is another matter.

Nor would Rajab and the BCHR have received numerous international awards if they were suspected of promoting violence or sectarian warfare.

I don’t see the Bahrain Government getting too many international awards for its “benign and enligtened” attitudes.

According to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA)  Nabeel Rajab “admitted posting the defamatory and humiliating material on his account” yet at the same time “refusing, however, to answer detailed questions”.

Nabeel has refused to answer further questions apparently as “he does not recognise the court” and has been remanded in custody until the next court appearance on May 22nd.

You can support Nabeel Rajab by signing this petition at Change.Org, HERE: and getting all your friends to sign to.


Combine the above with a statement from the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, at his weekly Cabinet meeting that “the persistence of some speechmakers in exploiting religious platforms for political purposes and their adopting of techniques aimed at provocation of violence and sectarianism and their calls for breach of law, abuse of constitutional institutions …. etc”. –

A Cabinet of Hardliners Led By "Prince Grim" - BNA

EDITOR: (Yes, their pronouncements get tedious, I know)  – It is beginning to look like that all Opposition leaders are now clearly under attack.

Undoubtedly, leading cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim is in their sights.

Once again, Bahrain’s hardliners are on the ascendant.

Having isolated Adbulhadi AlKhawaja and 14 other Opposition leaders with imprisonment and prolonged and repeated trials, having ousted the well educated and articulate medics from their jobs and tied them up with weekly court appearances, having jailed internationally known high profile leaders like Zainab AlKhawaja and Nabeel Rajab and strictly controlled who is and isn’t allowed into the country, no doubt the Al Khalifas and their supporters are hoping that a “leaderless” Opposition will crumble.

EDITOR: I predict they are in for a big disappointment.

Over and over, Bahrain’s Opposition has made the point that this is not a sectarian struggle but a genuine one for human rights and democracy in Bahrain. With the F1 debacle, even the most sceptical Western observer must now be aware of what is really going on (well, perhaps not the delusional Bernie, but he’s a lost cause!).

Unless they release the imprisoned Opposition leaders and have a proper negotiation with them leading to democratic government, there is not a “cat in hell’s”  chance of peace in Bahrain.


Frankly, the Saudis, the Al Khalifas and all the autocratic monarchies in the Gulf think that they can continue to control, manipulate and consolidate their power for their own sectarian and self-serving familial ends. But suppression and more suppression induces resistance and ultimately more resistance, that is natural law.


Bahrain Protests to Continue - Sumood

In the 21st century resistance is aided by 21st century technology and immediacy.

However long it takes, the Al Khalifas’ dictatorship is doomed to failure and for every Opposition leader they remove another half a dozen, media and technology savvy younger leaders will step into their shoes.

Take heart suppressed people of Bahrain and all those others across the Gulf, I and other human rights activists and organisations will continue to support you, however long it takes.”Sumood” (Endurance).

Democracy in Bahrain "Hung Out to Dry" - Courtesy @CarlosLatuff

Wildcard SSL Certificates