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Mass surveillance is fundamental threat to human rights, says European report

Mass surveillance is fundamental threat to human rights, says European report | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Europe’s top rights body has said mass surveillance practices are a fundamental threat to human rights and violate the right to privacy enshrined in European law.

The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe says in a report that it is “deeply concerned” by the “far-reaching, technologically advanced systems” used by the US and UK to collect, store and analyse the data of private citizens. It describes the scale of spying by the US National Security Agency, revealed by Edward Snowden, as “stunning”....

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European MPs visit Bahraini activists

European MPs visit Bahraini activists | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
“Bahrain is considered one of the most repressive regimes in the world,” said BCHR director Nabeel Rajab on Wednesday, after he brought the delegation to the Belgian capital Brussels for a meeting with the European parliamentarians.

The activist, who has spent two years in an Al Khalifa jail, was highly critical of the European Union and the United States for failing to support the tiny country’s pro-democracy protesters.

“Bahrain has the highest rate per capita of political prisoners… (and) the second highest rate of journalists or photojournalists in jail,” said Rajab.
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Protest Planned Ahead Of Windsor Horse Show Visit By Bahrain Royals

Protest Planned Ahead Of Windsor Horse Show Visit By Bahrain Royals | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Families of Bahrain's political prisoners have claimed Britain is ignoring the brutal oppression in that country and actively opposing democracy efforts as the Queen prepares to welcome the Gulf state's Royals.

Amid a storm of negative publicity around the appearance of the Bahrain royals at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Prince Andrew today ducked out of a key-note speech at a UK-Bahrain promotional event on Friday, claiming he was double-booked. But the Queen's son has previously made no secret of his approval of the country.

This coming week, days after the Royals depart, Bahrain Watch says Britain is set to fast-track the deportation of 19-year-old Isa Haider al-Aali, a Bahraini put on trial three times on politically-motivated charges for his protests against the government. Al-Aali, who applied for political asylum in Britain, faces five years in prison when he returns.

"The conflict is on British soil now," said Ala'a Shahabi, the London-based co-founder of Bahrain Watch, whose husband was arrested and jailed for his pro-democracy activism.

 ....
Spencer Haskins's insight:

Will the British Royal  family really allow their good names to be tarnished with associating with monsters of the caliber of the terrorist Al-Khalifas of Bahrain?!

 

 LETS HOPE NOT!!!!!

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European Parliament Condemns Violations in Bahrain

European Parliament Condemns Violations in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

48 out of 55 members of the European parliament approved a resolution condemning human rights violations in Bahrain.

MEPs insist on "for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, and Zainab Al-Khawaja".

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In Bahrain, British diplomacy is an insult to real democrats

In Bahrain, British diplomacy is an insult to real democrats | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

... Maryam al-Khawaja - Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights -... Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja , is a leading Bahraini human rights activist who has been tortured by the regime and jailed for life as a political dissident. The question she sent to me to ask Phillips was a simple one: “Are they [the British government] going to continue with silent diplomacy after two years of utter failure? Or will they actually promote human rights [in Bahrain]?”

....

This seemed an odd response to a question asked on behalf of a woman whose father is serving a life sentence for his non-violent calls for democratic reform, and who says he has been tortured and threatened with sexual assault while in custody. Last Friday, Maryam’s sister Zainab was jailed for three months for her political activism . Perhaps she and her father should join the former ambassador in welcoming their jailers’ commitment to political discourse? As Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has asked : "How can you have a dialogue if representatives of the groups you mean to dialogue with are in prison?"

“What more Britain can do” in these circumstances seems reasonably obvious. Rather than talking up the regime’s “National Dialogue”, Britain should publically acknowledge that, as Amnesty International says, talks will be an “empty exercise” unless all prisoners of conscience are unconditionally released, and all restrictions on freedom of expression are lifted. Instead of welcoming regime pledges of reform, and disingenuously saying as Phillips did to me that the extent of those reforms is “something we can debate”, Britain should acknowledge the fact that (to quote Human Rights Watch ), “no progress” has been made, and that “all [the regime’s] talk of national dialogue and reform mean nothing”. In short, Britain could stop parroting its ally’s obfuscatory narrative .

If the monarchy does not change course, the British government should cancel the UK-Bahrain defence agreement (with its reported focus on "internal stability" ) that was signed with minimal coverage last October. It should put an immediate and complete end to all arms sales and any continuing training of Bahraini security forces . And it should reverse the contemptible decision to rename the Mons Hall at Sandhurst military academy after the King of Bahrain, following a £3m donation. The hall was originally named after a First World War battle that claimed the lives of 1,600 British troops, the betrayal of whose memory speaks volumes about the squalid relationship between the British state and the Bahraini royal family.

In the absence of such measures, Britain will not merely have failed to promote democracy in Bahrain but will to all intents and purposes have sided with the oppressor. As Maryam al-Khawaja told me in response to Phillips’ comments, “the UK needs to hold its allies accountable for human rights violations. As long as the international state of immunity for the Bahraini regime continues, the human rights situation will continue to deteriorate”.

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Bahrain: People disappointed by UK’s unyielding support to Alkahlifa torturers

Bahrain: People disappointed by UK’s unyielding support to Alkahlifa torturers | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

By signing a defence treaty with the Alkhalifa ruling family, UK has turned its back on the most basic moral issues, a leading opposition figure has said.
To defend a hereditary dictatorship condemned for the use of systematic torture, destroying more than forty religious places, imprisoning doctors and other medical staff and granting immunity from prosecution to torturers especially Nasser, the son of Bahrain’s dictator is a total abandonment of the least expected standards of human rights and human decency. Instead of rebuking the Alkhlaifa rulers for their crimes the UK Government has accepted to become a partner with them at a time or rising popular revolution that will not give up its struggle to achieve a fundamental political change and end the black era of this feudal immoral regime. The Bahraini opposition will continue its lobbying of the political establishment to end this deal which has proven the double standards in UK’s foreign policy. ....

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UK's anti-Assad rhetoric exposes hypocrisy over Bahrain brutality

Bahrain authorities has been violently clamping down on protests for the past 18 months, with accusations of brutality by the regime. However, the kingdom has pledged to improve on its treatment of political activists and try to prevent violence against ethnic and religious communities. That's after criticism and recommendations from the UN Human Rights body. But western leaders effectively closed their eyes to what's happening in the country, with other concerns in the region.

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Maryam al-Khawaja asks British MPs to put pressure on Bahrain to commit to reforms and free political prisoners

Maryam al-Khawaja asks British MPs to put pressure on Bahrain to commit to reforms and free political prisoners | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Today at the Houses of Parliament, Maryam al-Khawaja asked MPs to put pressure on Bahrain to commit to reforms and free politcal prisoners, including her father and sister. Here, the prominent human rights defender denounces Britain’s indifference

When confronted with the facts of its own brutal crackdown on popular protests and human rights defenders, Bahraini officials usually stick to a routine. They hide behind tired lines of denial and hype supposed reforms. The actual situation on the ground continues to deteriorate — and inaction from the international community has emboldened the government. Most astounding is the silence from one of Bahrain’s greatest allies: the United Kingdom.

The UK government has made countless pledges to push on Bahrain to implement supposed reforms, but has yet to push forcefully on its partner where it counts. Almost a year after the Bahraini government publicly accepted the grim picture of human rights painted in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report and its recommendations, the country continues to perpetuate flagrant human rights violations.

It is more than important than ever for the United Kingdom’s legislators to question Britain’s relationship with Bahrain — and to place pressure on the government to demand real reform. Bahraini officials like Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who was a VIP guest at the London Olympics despite the numerous allegations he tortured protesters, should be shunned by British mandarins. UK legislators must also push on Bahrain to follow through on promises of transparency and accountability; many of those involved in the crimes committed in the past year and half, have either remained their positions or been promoted.

The United Kingdom’s silence places it in danger of being seen as complicit in Bahrain’s human rights abuses, particularly when the UK has a direct method of influencing Bahrain: through its economic relationship. If it doesn’t halt arms sales, the United Kingdom is ostensibly giving permission to the Bahraini government to violently silence its people. A serious commitment to human rights from the United Kingdom means that a serious conversation about economic and diplomatic sanctions is necessary and important to do.

Political prisoners jailed on trumped up charges need the United Kingdom to press on its friend on the international stage. It is shameful that the UK and the US refused to sign onto a joint-statement issued by 27 countries this year, condemning human rights violations. Despite damning evidence that continues to mount both countries have been shamefully silent on this topic — and this must change.

This isn’t about regime change, or a chaotic dialogue about political reform. It is about something very simple: human rights. Silence from such an important trade partner spells out permission, casting a shadow on the UK’s commitment to free expression and human rights. Bahrainis have started saying that the UK and USA are to Bahrain what Russia is to Syria — enablers.

 

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Danish Foreign policy officials petition for the release of AlKhawaja

Foreign Policy Committee
Parliament of Denmark
Christiansborg
DK-1240 København K


Open letter to his Majesty, King Hamad of Bahrain,                  

 4. september 2012


We, members of the Parliamentary Danish Foreign Policy Committee, have written this letter to voice our deepest concerns about the
Bahraini legal authorities’ treatment of the Danish nationals Zainab
al-Khawaja and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.
We firmly firm believe that Zainab al-Khawaja and Abdulhadi alKhawaja have been wrongfully imprisoned while merely using their
inalienable right to freedom of speech and that the charges against
them should be dropped.
We welcome the Cherif Bassiouni report and applaud its critical reflections about the events in Bahrain. In particular we welcome the
report’s recommendation to “To review convictions and commute sentences
of all persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of
advocacy of violence, or, as the case may be, to drop outstanding charges against
them.”
However, we are extremely disappointed that the judicial panel’s review of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja sentence did not result in his unconditional release. We urge his Majesty to use his power to pardon Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.
Further still, we noted with great concern the findings in Cherif Bassiouni report concerning Bahraini officials use of "excessive force"
and that many detainees were subjected to "physical and psychological torture", including being blindfolded, whipped, kicked, given
electric shocks and threatened with rape to extract confessions.
We insist that the basic human rights of all prisoners in Bahrain, including Mr. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, are to be respected and that any 2/2
prior abuse will be subjected to investigations with legal repercussions to the perpetrators.
Sincerely,


Mr. Jeppe Kofod, MP (The Social Democratic Party)
Chairman of the Danish Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Social Democratic Party


Mr. Per Stig Møller, MP (The Conservative Party)
Chairman of the Danish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Conservative Party


Mr. Rasmus Helveg, MP (The Danish Social-Liberal Party)
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Danish Social-Liberal Party


Mr. Søren Espersen, MP (The Danish People’s Party)
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Danish People’s Party


Mr. Christian Juhl, MP (The Red-Green Alliance)
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Red-Green Alliance


Ms. Mette Bock, MP (The Liberal Alliance)
Foreign Affairs spokeswoman for The Liberal Alliance


Mr. Holger K. Nielsen, MP (The Socialist People’s Party)
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Socialist People’s Party


Mr. Søren Pind, MP (The Liberal Party of Denmark)
Foreign Affairs spokesman for The Liberal Party of Denmark

 

http://multimedia.pol.dk/archive/00675/Folketingets_brev_t_675125a.pdf

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EC Urges Burma to Give Rohingya Citizenship

EC Urges Burma to Give Rohingya Citizenship | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The European Commission (EC) has urged Burma to give the Rohingya citizenship, a senior EC official told Bangladesh’s Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque on Sunday, according to Bangladeshi news reports. Esko Kentrschynskyj, the director general of the EC’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection office’s Director General, said the EC has been maintaining contacts to address the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh has come under fire for refusing to assist Rohingya fleeing from recent violence in Burma, where they are regarded as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

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UK Triples Arms Sales to Bahraini Dictatorship

UK Triples Arms Sales to Bahraini Dictatorship | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Prominent Bahraini activist says UK business interests are behind London´s support for the Al Khalifa autocracy, in spite of hunting-down pro-democracy activists.

 

British arms sales to Bahrain tripled since the Gulf monarchy cracked-down violently on pro-democracy activists in the wake of the Arab Spring, prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab said on Saturday.

 

Rajab added that UK business interests are behind London´s support to the Al Khalifa autocracy, despite its violation of human rights. He criticized Britain for harassing human rights activists from his country who have sought asylum in Britain.

 

The UK reportedly sold up to US$30 million worth of military equipment to Manama last year, while it currently seeks to sell Typhoon warplanes worth US$ 1 billion.

 

Thousands of Bahrainis staged pro-democracy protests in February 2011, demanding the U.S.-backed Khalifa dynasty gives up power. Attacks by the U.S.-armed Bahraini security forces, aided by the Saudi military, killed scores of activists.

 

The US, like Britain now, drew criticisim from Bahraini pro-democracy groups, for continuing to sell arms to Manama, while violent repression of protests was ongoing. At the time, Bahraini security forces also used armored vehicles from the Netherlands. 

 

Last week, a Bahraini court upheld a five-year jail sentence against nine pro-democracy activists in the ongoing witch-hunt against opposition groups.

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The UK Is Betraying the People of Bahrain

The UK Is Betraying the People of Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Without justice there can be no peace in Bahrain, and that won't change as long as the UK is happy to promote and provide political cover for an illegitimate government that is inflicting untold misery on its own citizens. Only by ending the political and military support that is strengthening the regime can the UK ensure that it is promoting human rights and acting the best interests of the people of Bahrain.....

There are few authoritarian regimes that enjoy as much political support from the UK as the one in Bahrain. Bahraini opposition groups are threatening toboycott the upcoming parliamentary elections unless democracy can be guaranteed, but the UK has only increased its public support for the brutal and oppressive dictatorship.

The latest research from Human Rights Watch shows that despite the positive assessment from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) there has been little in the way of progress on human rights. This is why the group's Director, David Mepham, concluded that the UK's response has been "both feeble and ineffective."

Despite the ongoing crackdown, it was only three months ago that the regime was given a private visit from Prince Charles. The visit, according to Iain Lindsay, the UK ambassador in Bahrain, was to emphasise that the UK-Bahrain relationship is "a warm, close and long-standing one."

Similarly, Prince Andrew flew over to Bahrain earlier this year for GREAT British Week, a week-long 'celebration' to mark 200 years of 'friendship and strong bilateral relations' between Great Britain and Bahrain'. The event was like a full state circus and was attended by the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond MP, and a range of arms companies including Rolls Royce and BAE Systems, which was trying to secure sales of its Eurofighter jet.

Almost as soon as the 'celebrations' had finished, the King of Bahrain, bolstered by his international support, increased his powers by introducing a new lawthat imposes jail sentences of up to seven years and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars (£15,700) on anyone who publicly insults him.

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Harmful rhetoric can break the momentum of boycott efforts in Israel | The National

Harmful rhetoric can break the momentum of boycott efforts in Israel | The National | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"...The European and other successful boycotts are aimed squarely at the occupation and are pushed by those who are determined to achieve a two-state solution. They are absolutely consistent with international law, and based on the fact that settlement activity by an occupying power is absolutely prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, Paragraph 6, because it is a major human rights violation. ...."


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UK: Broken Promise on Torture Inquiry | Human Rights Watch

“...This report does little to help victims, their families, and the public waiting for the truth on UK involvement in rendition and torture,” saidBenjamin Ward, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of stalling for time, the UK government should honor its promise of an independent judicial inquiry.”

The report contains 27 questions that the inquiry believed must be answered, but was unable to. The inquiry was shelved by the government after strong criticism from nongovernmental organizations over its inadequate powers and lack of independence. It was halted before it questioned any witnesses and is based on solely its examination of documents.

The questions the inquiry posed relate to the interrogation and treatment of detainees, rendition, training and guidance for UK personnel, and policy and communications between ministers and the intelligence agencies.

For instance, the inquiry raised the issues of whether the British intelligence agencies’ own questioning of detainees complied with international law prohibiting coercion or ill-treatment of prisoners of war and whether there were cases in which the UK government was involved in renditions. While the report does not reach any firm conclusions, it strongly suggests that UK security services, at least in some cases, were aware that detainees were being tortured by foreign governments yet continued to engage with them. The intelligence agencies have one month to respond to these issues, but it is unclear whether their answers will be made public.

There is already significant evidence that UK authorities were complicit in torture and rendition to torture. In 2009, Human Rights Watch documented complicity by the UK security services in torture in Pakistan.

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UK Encourages Chemical Weapons Use In Bahrain, Syria – OpEd

UK Encourages Chemical Weapons Use In Bahrain, Syria – OpEd | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Little Sajida Faisal had only just come into this world. But five days after her birth, she was dead, killed by suffocation from tear gas. She died on 11 December, a Sunday, in 2011 in her family home in the Bahraini village of Belad al-Qadeem.

Her father later told how Bahraini riot police had been firing tear gas into the streets for several days without stop. The whole village was under a toxic cloud of chemical gas, and with military checkpoints everywhere, the residents of Belad al-Qadeem were effectively held hostage, forced to breathe in the deadly fumes.

The family tried their best to shield the baby from the smoke seeping into the home. Her mother dabbed Sajida’s face with water and that of her older sister, three-year-old Sarah. But it was no good. Sajida’s father said the newborn baby’s skin began to turn blue and then she died. He managed to get past the checkpoints hemming in the village to rush the infant to the hospital. But it was too late. The doctor confirmed that the baby girl had died from suffocation. Even if she had survived, the doctor said the lack of oxygen would probably have left her brain-damaged.

Ever since that day, Sajida’s family has been living with the pain of her horrible death. That pain is compounded because the Bahraini regime wrote in the official death certificate that the cause was bacterial meningitis.” Of course, the regime is lying. To say “suffocation from tear gas fired by Bahraini police” would be admission of the crimes against humanity that the civilians of Bahrain have been subjected to, ever since they began protesting for the democratic overthrow of the Al Khalifa monarchy in mid-February 2011.

According to records kept by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, over the past two years at least half of the total deaths caused by the Bahraini regime security forces have resulted from tear gas suffocation. The very young, elderly and infirmed are most at risk....

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European Parliament calls for EU sanctions against Bahrain

European Parliament calls for EU sanctions against Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

17 Jan 2013

The European Parliament today endorsed a strong worded resolution addressing the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain. The effort led by Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) calls for targeted EU sanctions against human rights violators inBahrain. “For almost two years now the world has ignored the lethal violence used against Bahraini peaceful protestors. We have to be consistent in our policies and impose sanctions to force the Bahraini authorities to respect rights and freedoms”,Schaake says.

Activists
Since February 2011 protests take place in Bahrain. The Bahraini population, of which Shias make up around 70 percent and the rest is mostly Sunni, is being closely watched by Saudi-Arabia and Iran. Bahraini authorities received Saudi support through tanks that were sent to assist in suppressing revolts. Demonstrations in which citizens call for more democracy are increasingly sectarian. Schaake: “People suffocate from the excessive use of tear gas, bird shot is fired from a very close range. Doctors face jail time for providing basic medical care, activists are sentenced to life long imprisonment in flawed trials. Schaake led several other initiatives that got Parliamentary backing....

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BAHRAIN REVOLUTION is IGNORED by UK and western WORLD while Anti-ASSAD Campaign continues

BAHRAIN REVOLUTION is IGNORED by UK and western WORLD while Anti-ASSAD Campaign is on going Bahrain authorities has been violently clamping down on protests ...
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'US, UK remain silent on Bahrain crimes'-News Analysis-05-19-2012

The United Nations Human Rights Council is to discuss Bahrain's rights record in the upcoming session of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in...
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Bahrain is Britain’s shame | Index on Censorship

Bahrain is Britain’s shame | Index on Censorship | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Today at the Houses of Parliament, Maryam al-Khawaja asked MPs to put pressure on Bahrain to commit to reforms and free politcal prisoners, including her father and sister. Here, the prominent human rights defender denounces Britain’s indifference

When confronted with the facts of its own brutal crackdown on popular protests and human rights defenders, Bahraini officials usually stick to a routine. They hide behind tired lines of denial and hype supposed reforms. The actual situation on the ground continues to deteriorate — and inaction from the international community has emboldened the government. Most astounding is the silence from one of Bahrain’s greatest allies: the United Kingdom. ....

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Denmark appeals for release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Denmark appeals for release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

- We are highly disappointed that the court review of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's judgment has not resulted in his unconditional release. We urge His Majesty to pardon Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, says the letter signed by all eight foreign policy spokesmen

- We insist that the basic human rights of all prisoners in Bahrain, including Mr. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, are to be respected and that any prior abuse will be subjected to investigations with legal repercussions to the perpetrators, says the letter. ...

'We need to think about sanctions'
The foreign policy spokesperson of the Prime Minister's party Socialdemokraterne, Jeppe Kofod, calls on the Danish parliament to discuss possible sanctions against Bahrain:

- It is deeply tragic and deplorable. I had hoped the Bahraini rule had deliberated further and released al-Khawaja. It is deeply disappointing, and we need to think about what kind of sanctions we can take against Bahrain, Jeppe Kofod says to Danish newspaper Politiken.

Speaking to Danish news agency Ritzau, the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal, said the international community must keep its attention and pressure on Bahrain to comply with international human rights standards:

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Bus ads for Palestine and Bahrain

Hundreds of London buses have been plastered with messages of support for the people of Bahrain and Palestine during the Olympics and Ramadan. The campaign, ...
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