Bahrain: Alkhalifa crimes exposed on UN Day Against Torture, EU urged to act
Pressure is mounting on the European countries to abandon the policy of appeasing Gulf dictators, call for democratic change in that region and stand firm on the issue of human rights. This has come to light as the foreign ministers of these countries are preparing to go to Bahrain for the EU-GCC annual meeting in Manama this weekend. The silence by the EU on the crimes committed especially by the regime of the host country has been condemned by Bahraini human rights activists and their Western sympathizers. In the past two weeks activists from human rights bodies have travelled to Brussels to lobby for a humane stands by the EU delegations. They were urged not to shake hands with Alkhalifa torturers and those who have spearheaded the policies of hate and sectarianism like the foreign minister and the crown prince. Both are seen by Bahrainis as instrumental in what had befallen them in the past two years despite the Western attempts to present the latter as a “moderate”.
The calls on the EU to take a pro-active stand in support of the pro-democracy movement and its leaders were also raised in several meetings and seminars held in London in the past few days to mark the International Day in Support of Torture Victims. Redress, the London-based body which supports torture victims, organized a seminar on Monday 24th June to highlight the policies of torture in Bahrain. Several speakers took part in the seminar including the Bahrainis people’s delegation consisting families and lawyers of those victims. Farida Ghulam, wife of the jailed liberal leader Ibrahim Sharif, Khadija Al Mousawi, wife of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, Maryam Abu Deeb, daughter of Headteacher Mahdi Abu Deeb and Lawyer Mohammad Al Tajir, narrated details of the torture inflicted on their beloved ones. The audience was horrified by the crimes committed by Alkhalifa regime at the torture dungeons, especially those built in the basement of the National Security Agency (NSA). On Tuesday 25th June, Human Rights Watch held a landmark seminar at their London office which was addressed by its Middle East Director, Joe Stork and the Bahraini people’s delegation. Mr Stork who has been working on Bahrain for more than two decades raised several points; Europe must act to curtail the Bahraini regime’s excessive violations of human rights, policy of impunity must be challenged head on, the Bahrain’s 13 (leaders of the 14th February Revolution) must be immediately and unconditionally released. He lambasted Alkhalifa for provoking the nationalities of 31 natives saying: “By doing so the regime has opted to become one of the very few repressive regimes that adopt this policy like Pinochet’s Chile”.
On Wednesday Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group organized a Press Conference at the House of Lords to mark The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Several speakers, Bahrainis and others, narrated horrific details of the torture inflicted by Alkhalifa on Bahrainis. Lord Avebury urged the UK Government to act in a responsible way against this policy and stop appeasing a regime whose main source of legitimacy to stay in power is the use of “systematic torture” as described by the Alkhalifa-funded Bahrain’s Independent Investigation Commission (BICI).
21st June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement titled “Human rights record in Bahrain still abysmal - Europe must act” in which it urged EU representatives attending Manama annual meeting with GCC countries to act: “When European Union ministers meet their counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council states for a summit in Bahrain on June 30, the dismal state of that island kingdom's human rights record needs to have a prominent place on the agenda. Despite King Hamad's claims of reform, Bahrain is clearly heading down the road of greater repression and the EU ministers should make a point of clearly and publicly saying so.”
A day earlier HRW launched a report titled “Interfere, Restrict, Control… Restraints on Freedom of Association in Bahrain “. This 87-page report examines restrictive laws and policies that stifle civic and political groups and trade unions. The report shows how authorities use unjust laws to restrict freedom of association by arbitrarily rejecting registration applications and intrusively supervising independent organizations. The government takes over and dissolves ***– more or less at will – organizations whose leaders criticize government officials and policies, and severely limits the ability of groups to raise money and to receive foreign funding.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
28th June 2013