EU-GCC meeting cancelled as Bahrain’s dismal HR record exposed in Geneva

EU-GCC meeting cancelled as Bahrain’s dismal HR record exposed in Geneva

In a significant development a meeting between the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and their European Union (EU) counterparts scheduled for June 23 has been cancelled. The Saudi Al Arabiya TV said that the GCC cancelled the meeting in Luxemburg to protest a statement by several European countries on the human rights situation in Bahrain, read out at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva last week. Citing GCC diplomatic sources it did not identify, Al Arabiya on Monday 16th June said that GCC Secretary-General Abdul Lateef Al Zayani had informed EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton about the cancellation.

In a blatant rebuke of international opinion, the Alkhalifa regime yesterday prevented the world renowned human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, from leaving the country twice. When Mr Rajab tried to take a flight to Geneva yesterday morning he was told that he was banned from travel. Later in the day he attempted to cross the Saudi-Bahraini causeway but he was also stopped. He was allowed to leave later after frantic efforts by international human rights activists, including the office of the UN High Commission. Nabeel Rajab was released last month after two years incarceration for his anti-regime activities.

As the current session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva progresses, it became clear that the petro-dollar influence had sunk in and Bahrain was not listed for debate despite the sour experience of the UN team that visited the country two months ago. In her address to the current session of the Human rights Council, Navi Pillay failed to mention Bahrain in the context of human rights violations. There was a feeling of great disappointment among the NGOs attending the session.

Yesterday, Alkhalifa court sentenced many activists to lengthy jail sentences for opposing regime’s dictatorship. One of them, Abd Ali Al Singace, 45, was given ten years despite the lack of credible evidence against him. He is the brother of Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace, one of the 13 leading figures behind bars. From Maqaba Town, twenty Bahrainis were sentenced to between 3 and 10 years for taking part in anti-regime protests. One of them is Ahmad Al Zaaki who was sentenced to three years. The Prosecution ordered 60 days detention for Sayed Hadi Al Alawi from Sitra pending investigation. He is the brother of Mohammed and Ahmed Al Alawi who has been in jail for long period.

On Sunday 15th June Zahi Abdul Hadi was snatched from his car and taken to unknown destination. Another Bahraini had been snatched by Death Squads ten days ago but there have been no news of his whereabouts or what has happened to him. Mustafa Bahar’s fate is worrying his family and fears for his safety are growing. Mustafa was severely injured in 2011. Yesterday six youths were snatched from their homes in Duraz Town during raids by members of Death Squads. Five others from Bani Jamra Town were also abducted.

On 17 June 2014, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) hosted an event alongside the 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council titled, “Slaving Away: Migrant Labour Exploitation and Human Trafficking in the Gulf.” The event, which focused on migrant labour rights and human trafficking in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, coincided with the launch of a new ADHRB report on the ill-treatment of migrant workers in GCC countries.

In another serious development, the regime’s supreme civil court has upheld an earlier decision to dissolve the Scholars Council for refusing to condone regime’s atrocities. The latest decision claims that the Council is “engaged in political activities outside any official monitoring”. This is yet another repressive decision intended to keep the lid on any independent civil activism.

Meanwhile the regime has intensified its attacks on civil liberties and citizens rights by resorting to institutionalise repression. Yesterday, the regime’s Shura council approved an order by the ruling family to strip native Bahrainis off their nationality if they opposed the hereditary dictatorship or stayed outside the country for five years. The interior minister has the right to exempt regime’s supporters from these rules.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
18th June 2014