European Parliament human rights delegation barred from Bahrain


Bahraini authorities have barred members of a delegation from the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights from entering the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown against pro-democracy activists and opposition figures.
“I regret to inform you that the Kingdom of Bahrain has refused to allow a delegation from the European Parliament to visit Manama for technical reasons, which we did not expect,” Pier Antonio Panzeri, the Chairman of the European Parliament human rights delegation, said on Sunday.
On April 4, Bahraini officials did not allow a Danish parliamentarian and an Irish human rights activist, who were scheduled to meet Bahraini activists, to enter the country.
Danish legislator Aslan Rasmon and Irish activist Brian Dooley had planned to meet with imprisoned Bahraini human rights activists, including former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, to find about the reality of civil liberties in the kingdom.
Khawaja is currently serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Manama regime.
The well-known political activist has reportedly been subjected to physical and sexual torture while in prison, requiring a four-hour operation in a military hospital following injuries to his head. His family has also been harassed since his imprisonment.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.   
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.


Bahrain Continues Arbitrary Imprisonment of Taiba Darwish Despite Reduced Sentence


On 18 April 2018, a Bahraini appeals court reduced the sentence against political prisoner Taiba Darwish from five to three years in prison. Darwish was arbitrarily imprisoned in 2016 in reprisal for housing pro-democracy activists. While the reduced sentence is welcomed, the Government of Bahrain continues to hold Darwish on politically motivated charges in poor detention conditions. She must be released at once.
In March 2016, Bahrain sentenced Darwish to five years in prison for “harboring fugitives” after she leased part of her home to several activists in order to help support her ill husband and three children. Bahraini authorities commonly employ this charge to collectively punish whole families or homeowners for their connection to protesters. According to the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR), Darwish was not even aware of the tenants’ involvement in the pro-democracy movement.
During interrogation and detention, Bahraini authorities subjected Darwish to ill treatment. She suffered from uterine fibroids prior to her detention and her health has deteriorated in prison. Though the authorities took her to a military hospital for treatment in April 2016, they did not allow her to receive a direct examination; instead, they instructed the doctor to use a police officer as an intermediary. Darwish was not provided with a medical report, and the authorities threatened to remove her uterus if her condition did not improve. She has since developed additional problems in her kidneys, but the authorities have denied her consistent medical treatment. Zainab al-Khawaja, a human rights defender who was previously incarcerated along with Darwish, reported that prison officials used to specifically harass Darwish because she was a political prisoner.
The number of female political prisoners has grown as the Bahraini government increasingly targets women human rights defenders and activists for reprisal. Bahraini authorities repeatedly detained and tortured human rights defender Ebtesam al-Saegh in 2017, for example, in retaliation for her work with the United Nations (UN). They also imposed arbitrary bans on her travel to prevent her from attending sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.
Female prisoners like Darwish and al-Saegh often face further abuses in Bahrain’s Isa Town Women’s Prison. On 20 March 2018, Hajer Mansoor Hassan – who was arbitrarily imprisoned in retaliation for the human rights work of her son-in-law, exiled activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei – launched a hunger strike to protest the prison’s poor living conditions and harassment from the guards. Medina Ali, another political prisoner, joined the hunger strike on 22 March 2018, and the same day Hassan was rushed to the hospital as her health deteriorated. Alwadaei’s organization, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), reports that the prison authorities have since punished Ali for continuing the strike, including by stripping her naked in an attempt to humiliate her. Ali stated that other prisoners did not undergo such degrading treatment because they were not considered political prisoners. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) official in charge of Isa Town, Major Maryam Al-Bardouli, threatened to revoke her family visitation and phone call rights if she did not stop protesting ill treatment at the prison.
Though it is good to see Taiba Darwish’s sentence reduced, she and her fellow political prisoners should not be incarcerated in the first place. Bahrain must observe its international obligations to meet fair trial standards and the minimum rules for treatment of prisoners. Specifically, the Bahraini government must immediately release individuals imprisoned only in reprisal for alleged political or human rights activity, like Taiba Darwish.


Top Bahraini military court upholds death sentences against 7 anti-regime activists


Wed Apr 25, 2018

Bahrain’s highest military appellate court has upheld death sentences against seven anti-regime activists as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the kingdom.
On Wednesday, Bahrain's Military Court of Cassation found Adel Mubarak Muhanna, Fadel Sayyed Abbas Hassan Radhi, Sayyed Alawi Hussein Alawi Hussain, Mohamed Abdulhassen Ahmed al-Matghawi, Mohammed Abdul Hussain Saleh al-Shihabi, Mohammed Abdul Wahid Mohammed Al-Najjar and Hussein Mohammed Ahmed Shihab guilty of attempts to assassinate Commander-in-Chief of Defense Force Field Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifah, Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Opposition Bloc in London (BOBL) has strongly condemned the rulings by Bahrain’s top military court, stating that the verdicts against a group of civilians expose absence of an independent judiciary in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
“These verdicts clearly show the lack of an independent judiciary in Bahrain as the court relied on confessions extracted under torture and threats,” the group said in a statement.
It added that Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah was “responsible for the announcement of these unfair verdicts.”
The BOBL then called on the international community to intervene and halt their implementation.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.   
The Bahraini king ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.

Bahrain presents new evidence against three men who spied for Qatar


Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 25 April 2018

Bahrain’s public prosecution has announced new evidence against three suspects they say spied for Qatar.
The verdict in the case against Ali Salman Ali Ahmed, Hassan Ali Jumaa Sultan and Ali Mehdi Ali Al Aswad is set to be announced on June 21, Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported.
They three men have been accused of treason and collaborating with Qatar and of committing “hostile acts against Bahrain with the intention to overthrow the political system”, Bahraini public prosecutor Osama Al Oufi was quoted as saying.
The suspects are also facing charges of passing defense secrets to a foreign country, accepting money from a foreign country for providing it with military secrets and information about the internal situation if the country, spreading tendentious rumors and fallacies abroad to weaken the Kingdom’s economy and undermine its prestige.
Bahrain said Qatar’s former PM Hamad bin Jassim had urged Ali Salman, the former head of Bahrain’s opposition group, to press on violent protests in the country in 2011.
Bahraini TV broadcast last year a recording attributed to Hamad bin Jassim and Ali Salman, in which they plotted to destabilize the country's independence.


Bahrain sentences 24 Shiites to jail, revokes nationality


A Bahrain court sentenced 24 Shiite citizens to prison and stripped them of their nationality after finding them guilty of forming a "terrorist group", a Bahraini judicial source said Thursday.
Other charges included travelling to Iraq and Iran for "weapons and explosives training" and attempted murder of police officers.
The High Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced 10 of the defendants to life in prison, 10 to a decade behind bars and the other four to jail terms ranging from three to five years.
The Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom has stripped hundreds of its citizens of their nationality and jailed dozens of high-profile activists and religious clerics since protests demanding an elected government erupted in early 2011.
The Bahraini government has accused Shiite Iran of backing the protests and attempting to overthrow the government. Tehran denies involvement.
Authorities on Wednesday also referred to trial seven Bahrainis accused of attacking an oil pipeline to Saudi Arabia in November.
That trial is set for May 10.
The blast cut off the pipeline linking Bahrain's Bapco refinery with oil giant Aramco's main pumping station in neighbouring Saudi Arabia's Dhahran province.
Manama in February said it had arrested four men suspected of attacking the pipeline, accusing Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran of training and arming two of them, which Tehran denied.
Under Bahrain's citizenship law, amended after political protests broke out in 2011, the authorities can revoke the nationality of individuals who engage in acts deemed "disloyal" to the state.
Human Rights Watch in February accused the kingdom of "stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable".
Bahrain earlier this year deported eight people to war-torn Iraq after revoking their citizenship and making them stateless.

Italian officials and German firm face legal action over Saudi arms sales


Navy sailor from Freeport dies while serving in Bahrain


By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff  April 17, 2018 6:59 am

FREEPORT, Maine — A 2014 Freeport High School graduate serving in the U.S. Navy in Bahrain was killed April 5 when a vehicle struck him while he was crossing a road with friends.
Austin Thomas Williams, 22, was serving aboard the USS Sentry (MCM 3) in Manama, Bahrain, after recently re-enlisting for six years, according to hisobituary.
Williams was a Navy engineman second class
While at Freeport High School, Williams participated in cross-country, track, chorus and theater.
He attended boot camp and Engineman A-School in Great Lakes, Illinois, transferred to C-School in Coronado, California, and then completed his first tour of duty at Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
After completing his first tour of duty, he advanced to engineman second class (EN2) and earned his warfare qualification.
Williams is survived by his parents and a brother.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

In 5,682 words, leaders highlight challenges


Arab Summit stresses significance of Jerusalem, need to confront threats
Manama: The status of occupied Jerusalem and support for the Palestinians; Iran’s threats to security and peace in the region; the Al Houthi menace; developments in the Middle East; and the situation in Syria were among the hot issues discussed by the seven Arab leaders who addressed the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran on Sunday.
According to Saudi news site Sabq, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 5,682 words expressed the concerns and aspirations of the Arab world.

Occupied Jerusalem was the most prominent issue for Arab leaders, who called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and rejected the US administration’s decision to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. They said the decision would undermine global efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
King Salman’s epitomised the Arab reaction when he renamed the annual gathering the ‘Jerusalem Summit’, and announced that Palestine was and will remain the top Arab cause until Palestinians obtain their rights, including an independent state of their own with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In veiled references to Turkey and Iran, Al Sissi highlighted the menace emanating from the two non-Arab regional powers. “We meet today and the army of a regional country is deployed in two Arab states, in an obvious occupation of their territories. There are meetings to determine the fate of [Syria] and end the fierce civil war, which claimed the lives of more than half a million Syrians, without the participation of any Arab party, as if the destiny of the Syrian people and its future are subject to the game of nations and to the balance of regional and international powers,” he said.
“At the same time, another regional party, attracted by the instability that has hit the region in recent years, is building up zones of influence by exploiting its local forces in more than one Arab country. Unfortunately, honesty demands that we say that there are brothers who were implicated in a conspiracy with these regional parties and in supporting and financing sectarian and terrorist organisations.”
In his speech, King Hamad reiterated Bahrain’s steadfast stance in support of the Palestinian people and a fair and comprehensive peace that leads to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
Abbas warned there were dangers lurking around Palestine and that hundreds of resolutions and decisions by the General Assembly and Security Council have not been implemented.
The Palestinian leader wondered until when Israel would be allowed to act beyond and above the law and responsibilities.
None of the 705 decisions made by the General Assembly and the 86 resolutions adopted by the Security Council had been implemented, he said.
Shaikh Sabah warned that “the skies of the Arab nation are overcast and joint action was stagnant, if not paralysed, at times”. He added, “We look forward to the transition from the state of despair to a state of hope and optimism ... and therefore we are called upon to make a concerted effort to resolve the differences that are afflicting the Arab world, and this a challenge to all of us. [These differences] weaken our cohesion and ability to face the increasing challenges and risks,” he said.
Arab leaders also stressed threats from Iran to international security and peace, and called on the international community to adopt the necessary security and military measures to confront them and to deal with Tehran’s expansionist schemes.
The speeches also called for a prompt solution to the Syrian conflict, demanding the international community rise to its commitments to preserve the country’s territorial integrity and the safety of its people and to enable the Syrian refugees to go home.
The Yemeni president said the summit offered a new opportunity to re-take the initiative and work on improving the situation in the Arab world and ensuring greater cohesion among Arabs in order to confront Iran’s blatant interference in the region, mainly in Yemen and Bahrain.


Top Officials Endorse Police Campaign Against Digital Rights in Bahrain

11 April 2018 – Two weeks ago, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced it would expand efforts to suppress online criticism and arrested five individuals on charges related to “misuse of social media” or similar allegations. Bahraini state media reports indicate that the number of digital rights arrests has grown to at least 12[1] since the MOI announcement, while activists report that dozens more social media users may have been summoned. According to the authorities, many of the arrests are specifically “in line with the directives of the Minister of the Interior to take strict measures to address the electronic anarchy and chaos caused by some social media accounts non-compliant with the law.” Simultaneously, the MOI’s intensified campaign against social media criticism and online free expression has gained widespread government support, with several top officials, including prominent prince and Commander of the Royal Guard Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, explicitly backing the crackdown. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) reiterates its condemnation of the MOI’s new directives and is deeply concerned by the government consensus supporting these human rights restrictions. We call on the international community to bring renewed pressure to bear on these officials to reverse the course of this attack on online free expression.

Five days after the MOI’s announcement and the first arrests, Sheikh Nasser echoed the Interior Minister’s remarks and “pledged zero tolerance of any attempt to tamper with the pillars of the state,” “defame” the king, prime minister, and crown prince, or “spread fallacies and rumours.” He called on “all citizens to ignore the tendentious social media accounts as well as the rumors and fallacies posted on them to defame the kingdom’s leadership and people, which contravene Bahrain’s inherent customs and traditions,” and urged the “authorities to deal firmly” with such activity. Sheikh Nasser has a history of targeting critics and activists for arbitrary detention, and in 2011 he made similar comments wishing violence on pro-democracy protesters. There is credible evidence that Sheikh Nasser was personally involved in the torture of demonstrators and opposition figures, leading to the revocation of his immunity from prosecution in the United Kingdom. Citing this information, ADHRB has requested that the United States (US) Government review Sheikh Nasser’s human rights record with a view toward suspending his visa and withdrawing assistance to Bahraini security forces under his command.

Sheikh Nasser’s support for the MOI’s campaign has been reiterated or specifically praised by a number of other leading officials like , the royally appointed upper house of Bahrain’s National Assembly. The Shura Council “lauded” Sheikh Nasser’s “responsible statement” and “strongly condemned attempts to sow discord, threaten social texture and national unity and drive wedges among the Bahraini people through suspicious social media networks,” urging citizens to instead use “social media websites … [that] engage patriotically behind the banner of HM the King for the sake of development and to uphold the kingdom’s name at international gatherings.” The Prime Minister and the Shura Council were also joined by the Youth and Sports Affairs Minister and the Chairman of the Al-Wusta Youth Center, who expressed hope that “social media misusers will be deterred in order to maintain the Bahraini people’s unity and loyalty to the country’s leaders.”

“Such consistent support for this clear attack on free expression among Bahrain’s leadership demonstrates that the new campaign is not an isolated policy of the Interior Ministry, but that it has the full backing of the government,” said Husain Abdulla, ADHRB’s Executive Director. “As arbitrary arrests mount, it is especially worrying to hear the same abusive rhetoric from top officials like Nasser bin Hamad – when he made these types of comments in 2011, detainees were brutally tortured under his watch. It is apparent that the government has no intention of curbing this new crackdown, so it is imperative that the international community use all means at their disposal to urge Bahrain’s authorities to change course.”

With widespread government endorsement, the MOI’s move to further suppress online activism and social media usage is only escalating. ADHRB urges the international community to pressure the Government of Bahrain – including by penalizing officials explicitly involved in such abuses like Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and Royal Guard Commander Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa – to respect online free expression and drop all charges against individuals relating to peaceful social media use.



No solution to Qatar crisis at Arab Summit: Saudi foreign minister


'The solution of Qatar will be within the GCC,' says Al Jubeir

RIYADH:  Qatar crisis -- which was triggered after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar over its support of terrorism -- is not on the table at the upcoming meeting of Arab League states, Riyadh's foreign minister said Thursday.
"The solution of Qatar will be within the GCC," or the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh ahead of the Arab Summit.

He was responding to an AFP question on whether the crisis was on the agenda at the meeting on Sunday, which is hosted by Saudi Arabia and joins 21 of the 22 Arab League member states.
Syria is technically a member of the league but has been suspended from the summit since 2011 over the government's role in the war there.
Qatar has confirmed its attendance at the Saudi summit.
Riyadh and its allies broke off relations with Doha in June, accusing it of fostering close links with Tehran and supporting extremists. 

Golfo Persico: La formula dello stato di polizia in Bahrain

IL MANIFESTO - 12 aprile 2018
by Farian Sabahi
Ecco a voi l'articolo di Farian Sabahi pubblicato sul'edizione del 12/04 del "Manifesto", in cui descrive quanto si è discusso durante la conferenza #LDDU "Bahrein: il fuoco tra due mari e due mondi", a cui ha partecipato come relatrice insieme ad Adriana Fara. Grazie di cuore a entrambe per il vostro entusiasmo nel condividere con noi le vostre conoscenze e il vostro punto di vista!
"Di Bahrein scriviamo quando si corre la Formula Uno, un po' meno quando si tratta di violazioni dei diritti umani e di condanne a morte per fucilazione. È un piccolo arcipelago di un milione e 400mila abitanti situato nel Golfo persico, di fronte all'Iran, collegato all'Arabia Saudita con un'autostrada sul mare che per decenni è servita a farne la destinazione di turisti interessati alla prostituzione e al consumo di alcol. Da qui, dalla cosiddetta causeway, erano transitati anche i carri armati sauditi nel 2011, quando i sauditi avevano deciso di soffocare nel sangue la primavera di piazza delle Perle, nel centro della capitale Manama, dove tante famiglie si erano riunite per protestare contro le discriminazione della dinastia sunnita degli al-Khalifa. Sono arabi, il settanta percento professa l'Islam nella sua declinazione sciita e per questo non possono partecipare ai concorsi pubblici per entrare nei ministeri e nelle forze armate dove sono invece assoldati mercenari sunniti provenienti da Yemen, Palestina, Pakistan. Di fronte alle porte chiuse della pubblica amministrazione e impossibilitati a intraprendere la carriera militare, gli sciiti del Bahrein intraprendono le libere professioni diventando medici, ingegneri, avvocati, giornalisti. Studi perseguiti pure dalle donne anche se poi l'alto tasso di disoccupazione trasforma le laureate in casalinghe.
Nonostante il reddito di cittadinanza che garantisce un'entrata fissa equivalente a circa seicento euro al mese, erano stati in molti a scendere in piazza a protestare. In quell'occasione, gli al-Khalifa e i loro alleati sauditi avevano accusato l'Iran di interferenze. Le accuse erano plausibili, e non solo perché l'Iran si erge a difensore degli sciiti a ogni latitudine: nelle trattative con Londra del 1970 l'ultimo scià aveva permesso al Bahrein di diventare indipendente, ma questa decisione non è condivisa dalla leadership della Repubblica islamica e ogni tanto qualche politico reclama il Bahrein come provincia. Le accuse mosse da Riad a Teheran erano comprensibili anche per un altro motivo: l'Arabia Saudita teme che in un qualche paese arabo del Golfo a prendere il potere sia la minoranza sciita, che potrebbe così dare un pessimo esempio agli sciiti che vivono nella regione orientale di al-Qatif dove si trovano le maggiori riserve di petrolio controllate da Riad. In ogni caso, da Teheran il leader supremo Ali Khamenei aveva dichiarato che se ayatollah e pasdaran avessero voluto mettere lo zampino in Bahrein, la situazione avrebbe preso una piega ben diversa.
Di fatto, questo arcipelago è uno stato di polizia: nel 2017 il partito d'opposizione al-Waqaf è stato messo fuori legge da una sentenza del tribunale di Manama, e lo stesso vale per il suo organo di stampa, il quotidiano al-Wasat. Tutti i gruppi organizzati di matrice sciita sono stati chiusi, i giornalisti stranieri e gli operatori delle organizzazioni non governative come Amnesty International non possono atterrare all'aeroporto di Manama. Tantissime le persone arrestate, tra cui attivisti politici di spicco tra cui la famiglia Al Khawaja e Nabeel Rajab. Per evitare le torture più pesanti, i giovani attivisti sciiti ricorrono alla cerimonia di fidanzamento: “Secondo la sharia, questo escamotage impedisce ai carcerieri di sottoporli alle sevizie ai genitali che potrebbero impedire loro di procreare”, spiega la giornalista Adriana Fara, autrice del volume Dimentica. Never Mind (ranieri vivaldelli editore, Torino) in cui offre al lettore numerose testimonianze raccolte in Bahrein, dove ha vissuto a lungo durante la primavera araba, finendo in carcere per alcuni giorni in compagnia di alcune tra le più note attiviste.
Come reagisce l'Occidente? Oltre alla Formula Uno, il Bahrein ospita la quinta flotta americana con diecimila uomini, ovvero la seconda in ordine di importanza dopo quella di stanza a Djibuti. Recentemente, a far base a Manama sono anche i militari britannici, che hanno costruito una nuova base a Porta al-Khalifa con cinquecento uomini. Con Sheikh Ahmad, il presidente statunitense Donald Trump ha firmato contratti per oltre 4 miliardi di dollari e rimosso i limiti per la vendita degli F-16, a suo tempo imposti da Obama dopo la repressione di regime. Ottimi motivi, questi, per far scendere il silenzio sulla repressione in atto e le tante condanne a morte per fucilazione e all'ergastolo.
Con Washington, non tutto fila però liscio: l'aumento dell'amministrazione Trump dei dazi doganali del 10 percento sull'alluminio mette in difficoltà l'economia del Bahrein, già in bilico per l'alto debito pubblico, anche perché gli Stati Uniti rappresentano il loro mercato principale. Resta da vedere dove saranno convogliati i profitti della scoperta di nuovi giacimenti di petrolio e gas: 80 milioni di barili, a cui si aggiungono 20 trilioni di metri cubi di gas naturale. Se anche i costi di estrazione non sono certi, resta da vedere se i proventi andranno a diversificare l'economia e quindi a espandere il settore privato di cui sarebbero protagonisti proprio i mercanti sciiti."

Amnesty concerned over resumption of executions in Bahrain

Amnesty concerned over executions in Bahrain

Amnesty International has expressed grave concern over pronunciation of death sentences and resumption of executions in Bahrain as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners in the country.

The London-based non-governmental organization, in its annual report published on Thursday, announced that last year’s execution of three Shia Muslim activists over their alleged role in killing policemen during an anti-regime demonstration were carried out in violation of international law.
“Their lawyers did not have access to all the available evidence against them, which prevented them from adequately defending their clients. Nor were they allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. The court found Abbas al-Samea and Sami Mushaima guilty following coerced ‘confessions.’ This is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Amnesty International pointed out. 
On January 15, 2017, Bahrain executed 27-year-old Samea, Mushaima, 42, and Ali al-Singace, 21, by firing squad. The killings came a week after the Court of Cassation upheld death sentences against the trio finding them guilty of killing three policemen, including an Emirati officer, in the northern village of al-Daih back in March 2014, Presstv reported.
Condemnations poured in from across the world, even from Bahrain’s allies, against the executions.
“We’re concerned that these executions occurred at a time of elevated tension in Bahrain,” former US State Department spokesman John Kirby said at the time.
Bahraini opposition al-Wafa’a Islamic Party announced in a statement late on January 16, 2017, that it was turning to armed resistance as the only way to get legitimate public demands fulfilled in the face of the Al Khalifah regime’s harsh crackdown in the country.
“We in al-Wafa’a declare that we have started a new phase. We have one hand in the streets and the other on the trigger,” the party’s leader, Sayed Morteza al-Sanadi, said. 
“For six years we have been adhering to peaceful methods ... For six years we have been appealing to the whole world and in return we got nothing but tears,” Sanadi added, vowing that al-Wafa’a “will exact punishment for the trio’s blood.”
Epileptic detainee denied proper medical treatment
Meanwhile, the family of an epileptic dissident has accused Bahraini regime officials of denying their imprisoned son adequate medical treatment.
Younes Ali Hadher’s family told Bahraini human rights activists on Thursday that the detainee suffered a severe seizure earlier this week, but prison guards left him unattended and even changed his mediation without consulting his doctors.
Hadher was arrested in December 2012, and later charged with attempted murder, arson and participation in an “illegal gathering.” He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Attempts to release the epileptic dissident on humanitarian grounds have so far failed to yield results.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.   
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.


Trump praises Qatar's efforts on combating terrorist financing


Donald Trump has welcomed Qatar's leader to the White House, barely a year after denouncing the gas-rich Gulf state as a "funder of terror".
The US president initially sided with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations when they cut ties with their neighbour over its alleged support for jihadists.
But on Tuesday he praised Sheikh Tamim Al Thani for becoming a "big advocate" of combating terrorist financing.
He also said the emir was a "great gentleman" and a "friend of mine".
Sheikh Tamim said the Qatari authorities did not and would not tolerate "people who fund terrorism" and that Mr Trump had been "very helpful" in supporting Qatar during the partial blockade that is still in place.
The dispute began last June, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain severed all diplomatic and trade links with Qatar.
Yemen, the Maldives and Libya's eastern-based government later followed suit.
Qatar's only land border was closed; ships flying the Qatari flag or those serving Qatar were banned from docking at many ports; and much of the region's airspace was closed to Qatari aircraft.
The Saudi-led bloc accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups across the region and of being too close to Iran, with whom it shares a huge offshore gas field.
Qatar acknowledged providing assistance to Islamist groups designated as terrorist organisations by some of its neighbours, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. But it denied aiding jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS).
In return for ending the partial blockade, Qatar's neighbours demanded that it shut down the Al Jazeera news network, close a Turkish military base, cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and downgrade relations with Iran.
Qatar rejected the demands, saying it would not agree to any measures that threatened its sovereignty. It quickly established new trade routes to ensure the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million were met and spent tens of billions of dollars to prop up its economy.
Despite Qatar hosting the largest US military facility in the Middle East, President Trump was quick to claim credit for the partial blockade.
But aides subsequently persuaded him to take a more neutral stance. Qatar also mounted an expensive lobbying campaign in Washington.
In a remarkable turnaround on Tuesday, Mr Trump hosted Sheikh Tamim at the Oval Office and praised Qatar's efforts to address US concerns.
"We're making sure that terrorism funding is stopped in the countries that we are really related to," he said.
"But those countries are stopping the funding of terrorism, and that includes UAE and it includes Saudi Arabia, it includes Qatar and others. A lot of countries were funding terrorism and we're stopping it."
Mr Trump turned to the emir and added: "You've now become a very big advocate, and we appreciate that."
The president also noted that Qatar "buys a lot of equipment from us, a lot of purchases in the United States and a lot of military airplanes, missiles".

Video: Saudi guards take over Qatar border crossing


Military deployment may signify work on Salwa Canal could start earlier than predicted
Manama: Saudi Arabia’s border guards have taken control of the Salwa crossing, effectively cutting off Qatar’s only terrestrial link with the outside world.
The customs and passports departments evacuated the crossing and handed over the control of the crossing to the Border Guards, Saudi news site Sabq said, one day after it reported that orders had been given to station them alongside the borders. The move could signify that work on the ambitious project to dig a tourism and commercial waterway alongside the 60km border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar could start earlier than predicted. The planned canal would stretch from Salwa to Khor Al Adeed, and would be 200 metres wide and 15 to 20 metres deep, allowing ships up to 295 metres long and 33 wide to navigate it, Saudi news site Sabq reported. Several resorts with private beaches in Salwa, Sakak, Khor Al Adeed and two in Ras Abu Qamees are also being planned. Seaports will be built in Salwa and in Aqlat Al Zawayed and will complement the one in Ras Abu Qamees. Marinas for yachts and water sports will be built on the two banks of the canal, making it one of the most attractive in the Gulf region.
The project would cost SR2.8 billion and, if approved, could start within one year.
According to Sabq, the canal will be inside Saudi territory, making it fully Saudi, and will be about one kilometre from the official border with Qatar. The plan will be presented to relevant entities, including the Ministry of Defence and the Border Police. Sabq said the project will be funded fully by Saudi and UAE private investors and that Egyptian companies with expertise in digging would help with the construction of the canal. A Saudi military base will be established in the one kilometre separating the Salwa waterway from Qatar, while the remainder will be converted into a waste dump for the Saudi nuclear reactor, which Riyadh plans to build according to best practices and global environmental requirements. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt on June 5 severed their diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism. The Quartet issued a list of 13 demands and asked Qatar to comply with them in order to restore ties. However, Doha rejected them. Mediation efforts led by Kuwait have so far failed to achieve a breakthrough.


ADHRB’s Letter to Carlos Santana ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix

On 7 March 2018, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) sent the following letter to Carlos Santana. On 12 March 2018, ADHRB also directed tweets to Mr. Santana on his Twitter account. At the time of writing, ADHRB has received no response from Mr. Santana.
Read a pdf of the letter here.
Dear Mr. Santana:
Americans for Democracy & Human Right in Bahrain (ADHRB) writes to you in your capacity as an entertainer performing at the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix to bring your attention to the ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain. We particularly wish to highlight the increase in arbitrary arrests and suppression of freedom of expression that occurs each year in the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix event. ADHRB asks that you use your unique position as a public figure with a dedicated fan base to use your platform to inform your fans on the human rights situation in Bahrain.
In February 2011, Bahraini protestors took to the streets to peacefully call for political reform. In response, the Bahraini government began a concerted effort to arrest and detain activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and political figures. Seven years later, the government of Bahrain has continued its repression of civil society, including prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who was convicted to two years in prison for speaking with foreign press, and faces up to 15 years in prison for tweets critical of the government. In the last year and a half, the government has also dissolved all major opposition political parties and suspended the only independent newspaper in the kingdom. In addition to these violations of freedom of expression, the government of Bahrain has also recently amended the Constitution to allow for the military trial of civilians, the first case of which resulted in six death sentences and revocation of citizenship for 13 individuals. As recently as January and February of this year, Bahrain has continued to impose heavy sentences and strip citizens of their nationalities in mass trials; in a two-day period Bahrain convicted 84 individuals, denaturalizing 72 of them.
In addition to these ongoing rights abuses, the presence of Formula One in Bahrain has coincided with renewed crackdowns and police brutality, sometimes fatal. In 2012 Salah Abbas, a 36-year-old father of five, was beaten and shot to death during a protest in the village of Shakhura the night before the race. Also in 2012, police shot and killed 22-year-old Ahmed Ismail, a photojournalist who was covering protests surrounding the Formula One Grand Prix. In advance of the 2015 race, law enforcement used excessive force in response to peaceful protests against Formula One activities in Bahrain, including the use of tear gas and shotguns against protestors in 48 instances. Security forces also conducted warrantless arrests of 22 individuals, and arrested others in violation of the freedoms of assembly and expression. These violations occurred again in 2016 in the two weeks prior to the Grand Prix in Bahrain, including 57 arbitrary arrests and the indiscriminate use of tear gas against protestors. Additionally, a 17-year-old boy was struck by a police vehicle and killed during the April 2016 race. The Grand Prix in April 2017 saw similar human rights abuses, including the use of tear gas against protestors and the targeting of free speech. Violations last year included the detention and interrogation of a journalist, and the denial of press accreditation and licenses for international media outlets.
The Bahraini government also acts to suppress free press, particularly surrounding the Formula One events and related protests. During the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, journalists with Channel 4 News, The Telegraph, Asahi Shimbun, and others, were arrested and detained for reporting in Bahrain. Numerous journalists were also denied visas to cover the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Bahraini officials stated they were only granting visas to journalists who normally cover the Formula One race.  Since then, Bahraini officials require journalists who have been granted visas to sign a form stating they strictly cover the race and nothing else in Bahrain. The Bahraini government has even begun denying accreditation for Bahraini journalists reporting for foreign media outlets. Conditions are fragile for journalists in Bahrain. In the 2017 Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index, Bahrain ranked 164 out of 180 nations, falling two places from the previous year.
We understand the importance of the Formula One race to the racing community, and the significance that comes with performing at such an important event. However, we encourage you to be vocal about human rights abuses that take place in the context of the Grand Prix. ADHRB asks that you communicate these abuses to Formula One and express your interest in ensuring that they fully implement their human rights and due diligence policies and prevent further human rights abuses from occurring. We also call on you to communicate your concerns regarding the context of human rights violations in Bahrain, and particularly the pattern of increased abuses that occurs each year in connection with the Grand Prix. We ask that you engage with your fans on social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and voice your concerns in interviews at the Grand Prix. As an individual involved in human rights work yourself (in your role as the founder of the Milagro Foundation), we hope that you will use your platform as an artist, author, musician, promoter of peace, and humanitarian to speak publicly on these issues, and to support the Bahraini people.
Husain Abdulla
Executive Director
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain


U.K. Opens Persian Gulf Military Base in Bahrain


Updated on 
Manama, Bahrain (AP) -- Britain opened its first permanent military base in the Middle East in more than four decades on Thursday in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain, giving the U.K. an expansive presence along key international shipping routes.
The UK Naval Support Facility can house up to around 500 Royal Navy personnel, including sailors, soldiers and airmen, in a region where maritime security ensures oil shipments and goods make it from Asia to Europe. British officials have described it as the first permanent British base east of the Suez Canal since 1971.
"The aim of the Royal Navy being out here anyway is to enhance and ensure the maritime security in the region, and whether or not that's law and order on the high seas, countering piracy, countering terrorism, making sure that the high seas are all safe for the free-flow of commerce, the free flow of trade to be able to take place," said Commodore Steve Dainton, U.K. Maritime Component Commander.
Bahrain, located off the coast of Saudi Arabia and just west of its rival Iran, also plays host to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Tense encounters have occurred between U.S. and Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf, though military officials say provocations of U.S. navy ships in recent months have halted.
The new British hub makes it easier for the Royal Navy to conduct longer-term deployments in the Persian Gulf and will offer engineering and logistical support for ships. The facility includes sleeping accommodations, sport facilities and recreational areas for troops.
"It offers us a much better base than we've had before, a much more permanent presence and a real infrastructure for our people who are working and operating here all the time," said Commander of the Joint Forces Command of the U.K. Gen. Chris Deverell.
The port would also be able to service mine sweepers and aircraft carriers, though carriers like the HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be able to dock there because the water is too shallow.
The Duke of York, Prince Andrew and Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa were on-hand for the ceremony in Salman Port.
The British first established the HMS Juffair base in 1935 in Bahrain, but the U.S. took over the base after the small island nation gained its independence from the British Empire in
The re-establishment of the British base was announced in late 2014 and construction started nearly a year later. The name was changed to UK Naval Support Facility on Thursday.
Bahrain, led by a Sunni monarchy, was rocked by Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011 by its Shiite majority and others aimed at demanding more political freedoms from the ruling Al Khalifa family. The government put down the demonstrations with help from Saudi and Emirati troops.
The ongoing crackdown has seen dozens of activists imprisoned, others exiled, and a major Shiite opposition group dismantled.