European Parliament urges Bahrain’s King to lift Nabeel Rajab’s travel ban, drop charges
On 19 November 2015, European Parliament member Mr. Pier Antonio Panzeri, along with 80 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), issued a letter to Bahrain’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa calling on the Bahraini government to immediately lift the travel ban and drop all charges against human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. Twenty international NGOs welcomed the letter and echoed the call to lift Mr. Rajab’s travel ban and end the judicial harassment against him.
Updates from the Ground
- Courts upheld, altered, or sentenced 37 individuals to 300 years in prison, collectively, and postponed the trials of 44 individuals.
- The criminal court postponed the appeal hearing of former parliament member Khalid Abdula’al to 1 February 2016.
- The criminal court postponed the appeal hearing of the human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja to 2 February 2016.
- The court sentenced a social media activist to one year in prison for posting “insulting” remarks on Twitter.
- The Special Investigations Unit ordered the detention of two policemen over accusations of assaulting detainees in prison.
- The Ministry of Justice determined that it would not seek indictments for security officials who allegedly tortured France24 journalist Nazeeha Saeed.
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News and Opinion
RSF Demands Justice for Bahraini Journalist Tortured in 2011
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the Bahraini justice ministry’s decision not to prosecute those responsible for allegedly torturing the France24 journalist Nazeeha Saeed in a police station in 2011. The government claimed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, despite multiple medical reports and witness accounts. Read More
Remarks with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
On November 2015, Secretary John Kerry met with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. The two discussed bolstering regional security, the situation in Syria, and the fight against Daesh. Additionally, the two discussed Bahrain’s “internal challenges,” which Secretary Kerry noted the government had been working “diligently” on solving. Read More
The Blood of People who Don’t Cooperate
On 22 November 2015, Human Rights Watch released an 84-page report entitled “The Blood of People Who Don’t Cooperate: Continuing Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees in Bahrain.” In the report, Human Rights Watch evaluated the Bahraini security forces’ conduct and concluded that they have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The report also found that Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture. Read More
NGOs Urge Sec. Kerry to Act in Case of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr
On 20 November 2015, a collection of 17 organizations and two individuals working in the fields of human rights and international religious freedom sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to press Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to halt the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and several other demonstrators from the country’s marginalized Eastern Province. On 24 October 2015, the Saudi Supreme Court ratified the sentence of death issued to Sheikh Nimr in October 2014; since September, the Saudi criminal justice system has also ratified the death sentences of Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher, three men arrested as minors in 2012 for their protest activity.
News and Opinion
Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam
A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam. On 17 November 2015, a Saudi court ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal the ruling. Fayadh’s supporters believe hs is being punished by hardliners for posting a video of the religious police in Abha lashing a man in public, and that he is being targeted because he is of Palestinian descent. Read More
U.S. Said to Approve Selling Saudis $1.29 Billion in Smart Bombs
A proposed $1.29 billion sale of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia includes as many as 13,000 smart combs and spare parts made by Boeing Co. and Raytheon Co., according to officials. The weapons include Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) with GPS satellite guidance from Boeing, one of the U.S.’s most precise weapons. Also included would be a resupply of Paveway laser-guided bombs that Raytheon first sold to Saudi Arabia in 2011. The bombs are in part intended to replenish Saudi inventories expended in its air operations against the Islamic State in Syria and rebels in Yemen. Read More
Is promoting civil society the key to combating radical groups?
Propping up oppressive dictators won’t stop violence in the Middle East and beyond, and a sophisticated approach is needed to address the complex origins of terror in the region. The solution does not lie in strengthening the old regimes or resuscitating them to suffocate the population even more, but in strengthening alternative forces that can act as a countercurrent to the existing terrorism menace. These alternative forces include activists for human rights and civil society who promote a democratic vision calling for citizenship regardless of sect, ethnicity, or religion. Read More
Other Gulf States
Prisoner Profile: Mohammed al-Roken
Dr. Mohammed al-Roken, a human rights defender and lawyer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence as a result of a mass trial of 94 human rights defenders and political activists in the UAE. Before his conviction, Dr. al-token served as one of the defense lawyers at the trial of the UAE 5, a group of five individuals who were sentenced to between two and three years’ imprisonment for petitioning the government for legislative reforms in 2011. He also represented the UAE 7, a group of seven individuals stripped of their citizenship by the government in 2011. In 2014, Front Line Defenders nominated Dr. al-token as a finalist for the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. He is also a member of Amnesty International and the Emirati Jurists’ Association.
Dozens on Trial on Terrorism Charges in UAE
On 17 November 2015, UAE courts heard the case of 41 people accused of plotting to overthrow the federal government and replace it with a caliphate. Some of the defendants denied the charges. The judge ruled that the trial would continue next month. Read More
Qatar can’t put together a World Cup football team? Here’s a simple solution
Robert Booth noted that Qatar is struggling to put together a decent football team to compete at the 2022 World Cup. Although the country only has 400,000 citizens, it also has 1.8 million migrant workers from India, Nepal, Uganda, Kenya, and other nations across the world who exist, in a way, separate from society. If Qatar incorporated these workers into its society, and allowed them to try out for the national team, there’s a much better chance that Qatar could produce a competitive national team. Read More
Yemen: UN warns humanitarian situation has deteriorated ‘drastically’ as conflict claims 5,700 lives
The United Nations has revealed that the ongoing conflict in Yemen has resulted in over 32,000 casualties, with 5,700 people killed, including 830 women and children, alongside a sharp rise in human rights violations – nearly 8,875 or an average of 43 violations occurring every day. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Johannes Van der Klaauw noted, “the collapse of basic services in Yemen continues to accelerate… Overall, essential services are rapidly contracting due to the direct impact of the conflict.” Read More
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