As the 6th anniversary of Saudi invasion of Bahrain approaches (14th March), preparations are being made to mark that black day which heralded the end of the Arab Spring. Saudi troops crossed the causeway and helped restore Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship which was on the verge of collapse. Six yeas on, the ruling tribe has failed to restore law and order, and has requested more help from Turkey. This adds to the troops from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Pakistan and the two US and UK bases. Bahrainis want those foreign troops to leave the country so that people assume their sovereignty rights and build their political system.
In his address to the current 34th session of the Human Rights Council today (8th March), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, said: “In Bahrain, the Government has imposed increasing restrictions on civil society and political groups since June 2016, including intimidation, arrests and interrogations, travel bans and closure orders. I repeat that this repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them. I am deeply concerned over the increasing levels of human rights violations in the Kingdom. I call on the Government of Bahrain to undertake concrete confidence building measures, including allowing my Office and Special Procedures mandate holders to swiftly conduct visits.”
In the week 25th February to 5th March the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights documented at least 28 arbitrary arrests including one woman and five children. At least 47 native Bahrainis were tried by Alkhalifa kangaroo courts. They were falsely accused of involvement in 17 cases. They received jail terms totalling 177 years. There were 53 protests in 24 towns and villages. At least 7 were attacked by regime’s mercenary forces. On 2nd March Alkhalifa forces raided the town of Aali and arrested two young citizens: Mahmood Marzooq and under-aged Nazar Al Wadaei. From Sanabis, Ahmad Fadhel Abbas was detained in a house raid on Thursday 2nd March. The Bahraini authorities are targeting the family members of a prominent Bahraini activist in retribution for his human rights work, Human Rights Watch said yesterday. Since March 2, 2017, authorities have detained the brother-in-law and mother-in-law of Sayed al-Wadaei, a UK-based Bahraini human rights activist who has accused the Bahraini authorities, including senior members of the ruling Al Khalifa family, of serious human rights abuses. Sayed al-Wadaei’s wife, Duaa, told Human Rights Watch in October that a senior official had referred to her husband as “an animal” and asked, menacingly during an interrogation at Bahrain airport, “Where shall I go first, shall I go to his family or your family?”
Bahrain has taken steps to ban one of the main opposition parties and transfer many civilian judicial cases to a military court, in a new crackdown on dissent and human rights. The secular National Democratic Action Society, or Wa’ad, had perpetrated “serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence by glorifying people convicted for terrorism cases”, the Alkhalifa tribe said. This follows the killing of a young native two weeks ago by masked members of the regime’s Death Squads. Senior members of Wa’ad, questioned the official version and called the victim a martyr. To Alkhalifa native Shia majority population are “terrorists” because they want their country freed from foreign occupation and domination by Al Saud and Alkhalifa. Theresa May visited Bahrain only three months ago as part of a drive to deepen UK military and trading links. The UK has been funding efforts to set up a police ombudsman in Bahrain, but conceded in its 2016 annual human rights report that developments in the country were a cause for concern.
On Monday 6th March Rights groups condemned the decision of the Bahraini Parliament a day earlier to approve military trials for civilians as a “disaster for human rights” in the country. Members of the powerless Consultative rubber-stamped a change to Alkhalifa constitution that would now permit military courts to try civilians, citing the need to combat extremism and unrest in the country. This is a declaration of martial law confirming the failure of the regime to quell the people’s undiminished Revolution.
On 7th March the Bahrain Team at Amnesty International (AI) issued a public statement calling on the King of Bahrain to refrain from ratifying a constitutional amendment that would enable military courts to try civilians, paving the way to further human rights violations. This call comes after the Shura Council, Bahrain’s Consultative Council, voted unanimously in favour of the amendment to Article 105 (b) of the Constitution on 5 March and after it had been voted in favour by Parliament on 21 February. The amendment has now been passed to the King for ratification and could be ratified imminently. Regime’s justice minister Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa ordered the powerless council to rubber-stamp the change arguing it was essential as military judges were “best placed” to oversee trials regarding “irregular warfare” .
Yesterday Alkhalifa court postponed the trial of Nabeel Rajab for the fourth time. The next hearing in Rajab’s case is scheduled for April 16. The presiding judge also denied his lawyer’s request for release on bail, the judicial source said. Rajab, who was present at Tuesday’s hearing, is charged with spreading “rumours and false news” via televised interviews in 2014 and 2015 in which he criticised authorities.