Saudi-backed regime becomes liability on UK as repression intensifies

Saudi-backed regime becomes liability on UK as repression intensifies

Despite foreign help from powerful “allies” the Saudi-backed Alkhalifa regime is becoming more squeezed by the day as voices of victims become louder. When an official from Human Rights Watch was told by the interior minister that the Bissioni recommendations had been implemented she bluntly told him: If that were the case, you would not be in your position. There is now a struggle between the truth, as manifested by regime’s intense repression and practices,  and the falsehood propagated by the tribal rulers and their allies in Riyadh and London. The recent report by Human Rights Watch titled “”Criminalizing Dissent, Entrenching Impunity” has caused serious damage not only to the regime but also its allies.

The facts on the ground have not changed. In the early hours of this morning scores of towns and villages including Duraz, Bani Jamra, Ql Qurayya and Nuwaidrat were raided by Death Squads who wreaked havoc as native Bahrainis slept. With the body of martyr Abdul Aziz Al Abbar still held hostage by the heartless Alkhalifa killers after almost seven weeks of his martyrdom, Bahrainis are growing more disillusioned by the day with the continued support granted by the British government to this criminal regime. On 2nd June, David Mepham, UK Director of Human Rights Watch posted an article titled: “Britain’s Still Making Excuses for Bahrain” which was critical of London’s policy towards one of the most brutal and reactionary regimes in the world. It is a damning critique of FCO’s policy on Bahrain, full of facts, figures, statements and analysis. Mr Mepham says: “it’s bizarre that in its recent Foreign Office report, the UK government said Bahrain’s reform programme suggested the country’s “overall trajectory on human rights will be positive.” There is simply no basis for such an upbeat assessment.” He adds: “New research from Human Rights Watch shows that UK claims of progress on judicial and security sector reform in Bahrain since 2011 are unfounded. Despite the UK’s “constructive engagement,” quiet diplomacy and capacity-building support, little appears to have changed in the administration — or rather maladministration — of Bahraini justice.”

The sudden exposure of UK as the main supporter of Alkhalifa regime has shocked many and caused rattling in Whitehall. Today, Hugh Robertson, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is in Bahrain. In his tweet he said: In #Bahrain today to discuss UK assistance to Bahrain’s reform programme. Will also discuss #HumanRights.” He did not specify what he meant by “reform programme” as no such programme had been announced by the regime concerned. UK is working hard to prevent any resolution from UN Human Rights Council following the visit by its delegation to Bahrain in April.

The Alkhalifa court condemned more Bahrainis to jail. Twenty one people were sentenced to 15 years in jail for opposing the regime. They had merely protested against regime’s dictatorship. An underage child, Firas Al Saffar, was condemned to be held for 45 days as his parents cried for his release. On Tuesday 3rd June, Mohammad Al Alwani was arrested from his home at Al Musalla town. He had been in hiding for two years and had been sentenced to twenty years for opposing Alkhalifa dictatorship.

It has now become clear that the regime’s central project to reclaim lost international legitimacy has been fatally destroyed. The proposed elections in the Autumn, for the dysfunctional shura council has been ruined by the decision of the political societies to boycott it. The prospect of holding successful elections does not exist at all. The political societies are unlikely to challenge the overwhelming majority of native Bahrainis who want fundamental political changes that lead to the end of Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship. The next few months will seal the fate of the regime as it is unlikely to introduce reforms that lead to the release of more than 3000 political prisoners. Elections cannot be held in the present state of political instability.

On 27th May, IFEX, the Global Network for Defending and Promoting Free Expression issued a statement titled: “Bahrain arrests and detains children on charges of “illegal gathering”. It cited the cases of Jehad Nabeel Al-Sameea, 11, Mohamed Hussain, 11, and Ali Hussain, 13, on charges of “illegal gathering”. It adopted the call by The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) to release these children, end the culture of impunity and investigate reports of torture inflicted on them.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
4th June 2014