MPs denounce building naval base in Bahrain as killing, detentions escalate
The decision by the UK Government to increase its moral and military support to the Alkhalifa rulers has shocked the human rights world and a large section of the British voters. Last week the Ministry of Defence announced that it was building a naval base in Bahrain, more than four decades after the British withdrawal from the East of Suez, and that the costs would be met by the Bahraini regime. There were furious reactions from Bahrainis who viewed it as a slap in the face of the pro-democracy movement and an immoral alliance with those accused of systematic torture. The announcement came only few days after the UK’s Parliament Foreign Relations Committee had expressed dismay at the decision by the FCO not to designate Bahrain as a “country of concern” as it had recommended following its thorough investigation into the relations between UK and both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain: We see little or no evidence that Bahrain has made enough progress in implementing political reform and safeguarding human rights, and we believe that the FCO should have bitten the bullet and designated Bahrain as a country of concern.
Most of the media coverage of the decision to build the naval base has been critical of the politicians. In Parliament nine MPs have tabled an Early Day Motion to denounce the decision. Many more MPs are expected to sign in the coming days. EDM NO 609 says: That this House is appalled that Britain has signed an agreement with the Government of Bahrain to establish a permanent military base at Port Mina Salman in Bahrain; believes this announcement will be deeply upsetting to all those who have suffered human rights abuses by the Government of Bahrain and its officials, and will serve to send a message that the UK Government is not interested in justice, rule of law and reconciliation in Bahrain; notes the protests in Bahrain since the announcement was made; believes that the increased British military presence is likely to exacerbate tensions in the region; and, calls upon the UK Government to play a much more constructive role in Bahrain to help end, and ensure appropriate redress for, serious human rights violations, and to encourage meaningful dialogue leading to substantive political reform.
Yesterday, an elderly native Bahraini was martyred by regime forces in the town of Karzakkan. Abdul Karim Mohammad Jaffar Al Basri, 72, was apparently killed with an explosive device fired by the foreign-staffed riot police. According to the Death Certificate, the martyr died as a result of intrusions in the head by metal pellets. There was strong anger among the people who went to the streets to protest the killing and the continued attacks by the Alkahlifa rulers on Bahrainis.
Yesterday Alkhalifa court issued three prison sentences on Zainab Al Khawaja totaling 16 months for her anti-regime activities. This is in addition to the three years sentence she had received for tearing up dictator’s picture. Zainab has recently delivered a baby boy. She received the news with bravery and defiance vowing to continue her struggle with her baby from behind bars as long as this dictatorial regime remains in power. Earlier Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action calling for quashing the sentences against Zainab Al Khawaja. “Tearing up a photo of the head of state should not be a criminal offence. Amnesty International is calling for this and all of Zainab Al-Khawaja’s other convictions to be quashed and all outstanding charges to be dropped,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. The regime’s court has also sentenced Ahmad, the son of the most prominent jailed political leader, Hassan Mushaima, for one year. The sentence is widely seen as revenge for the father’s unyielding political stand.
On the eve of the International Day for Human Rights, Bahrainis were subjected to harsher treatment by the ruling Akhalifa junta. Sixteen natives were detained on the causeway on their way to Iraq to take part in religious rituals. In the first week of December 21 others had been arrested, mostly in raids on their homes in the early hours of the morning. They are from the towns of Barbar, Hamala, Aali, Demstan, Kawara and Salmabad. On Sunday 7th December, 13 years old Mohammad Faisal Fateel was detained from his town of Bani Jamra. Alkhalifa court subsequently ordered his detention for further seven days pending “investigation”. This often means subjecting him to severe torture.
Three members of the European Parliament have written a letter to the Vice-President of the European Commission, expressing deep concern with a statement issued by the EU Ambassadors in Bahrain that criticised the oppositions decision not to participate in the recent elections. Ana Gomes MEP, Alyn Smith MEP and Heidi Hautala MEP described the decision by the Bahrain opposition to boycott as “due to a lack of conditions to hold free and fair elections” in Bahrain. Addressing the newly appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, the MEP’s encouraged the EU to “refocus” its priorities in relation to Bahrain “according to the EU guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
10th December 2014