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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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Al-Wefaq Urges Int’l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release

Al-Wefaq Urges Int’l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Al-Wefaq Urges Int'l Community to Save Bahrain, Work for Sheikh Salman Release
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PressTV-Bahrain clamps down on anti-regime demo

PressTV-Bahrain clamps down on anti-regime demo | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Bahraini forces attack protesters during the funeral ceremony for one of the victims of the regime's crackdown.
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Human Rights Watch Accuses Sudan Soldiers Of Mass Rape In Darfur

Human Rights Watch Accuses Sudan Soldiers Of Mass Rape In Darfur | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A U.S.-based human rights group on Wednesday accused Sudanese soldiers of raping at least 221 women and girls in Sudan's Darfur region late last year after...
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India should politically, morally and diplomatically support Baloch struggle for freedom: Hyrbyair Marri | Balochwarna News

India should politically, morally and diplomatically support Baloch struggle for freedom: Hyrbyair Marri | Balochwarna News | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
“India is a democratic country” he said. Mr Marri stated that since Pakistan openly supports Kashmir on political, diplomatic and moral basis then India should also should not hesitate to support Baloch democratic struggle for independence.  Whereas it had long historical borders with Balochistan.

If India, United States and other democratic states want peace in the region and wish to limit Pakistan’s religious terrorism, then it should support the Baloch as India helped Bengalis during their liberation war in 1970s.

Hyrbyair Marri added, “Baloch are a natural ally of all those who believe in democracy, human rights and rule of law. A secular and independent Balochistan can only guarantee peace in the region. The democratic states must learn from the experience of Kurdistan. Baloch do not want to live in the state of perpetual war, poverty and subjugation. They want peace, stability, prosperity, freedom and dignity.”
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Bahrain: Unchecked Repression | Human Rights Watch

Bahrain: Unchecked Repression | Human Rights Watch | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The government has not carried out key recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry that it had pledged to adopt. Bahraini courts, which lack independence, sentenced more than 200 defendants to long prison sentences, including at least 70 for life, on broadly drawn terrorism and national security charges. Bahraini security forces fatally shot at least three people – including a boy of 14 – in circumstances indicating that they used excessive force.

“When you look at the evidence and tot up the abuses, it’s difficult to see how anyone could claim with a straight face that Bahrain is on the path to reform,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Unfortunately, Bahrain’s allies in the West, in particular the UK, have become adept at seeing only what they wish to see.”
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Bahrain: Six month sentence for Nabeel Rajab blow to freedom of expression | Amnesty International

The Bahraini authorities must quash the conviction of prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, who has today been sentenced to six months in prison for posting comments online which were considered insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence, Amnesty International said.
“Nabeel Rajab is being unjustly punished simply for posting tweets deemed insulting to the authorities. His conviction is a blow to freedom of expression – it must be quashed. He should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
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Protests escalate in Bahrain as authorities crack down

Protests escalate in Bahrain as authorities crack down | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Thousands of Bahrainis held nationwide rallies in a show of solidarity with political prisoners on Friday.

Media reports say angry demonstrators poured onto the streets in the capital Manama, Samaheej, Sitra, Bilad al-Qadim, and many other towns.

They chanted slogans against the Al Khalifa monarchy and demanded the release of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Bahrain's main opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Bahraini regime forces fired teargas and birdshot to disperse anti-government protesters.

Eyewitnesses say an unknown number of people were injured in the towns of Bilad al-Qadim and Sitra.

The rallies came after the Public Prosecutor's Office extended the detention of Sheikh Salman for an unlimited period. The extension came after an eight-hour interrogation.

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‘Regime can never stop Bahrain uprising’

‘Regime can never stop Bahrain uprising’ | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Pro-democracy protests are unstoppable in Bahrain, says a top Shia cleric as fresh clashes erupt between security forces and demonstrators.

Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim said on Sunday that the pro-democracy protests are unstoppable in the Persian Gulf country and regime’s continued crackdown on popular protests would end nowhere.

Qassim said that arresting leaders of the uprising with the aim of making them forgotten would have no effect on the determination of the people.

He added that the regime’s desperate attempt to quell the protests is an impossible mission as people will continue to press for a real reform in the system.     

Sheikh Qassim’s comments came as Bahraini regime forces resorted to violence to put an end to a protest demanding the release of senior opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman.
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Sheikh Ali Salman Slams West over Double Standards on Human Rights Violations

Sheikh Ali Salman Slams West over Double Standards on Human Rights Violations | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
“The West believes in the protection of human rights and democracy, but when it comes to the regimes in the region, such values are ignored and not discussed at a greater level because of these interests they have in the Persian Gulf,” Sheikh Salman told Press TV in an exclusive interview just before his arrest on December 28.
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Calls to Free Leading Cleric in Bahrain

Calls to Free Leading Cleric in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The top United Nations human rights official on Tuesday called on the authorities in Bahrain to release the detained leader of the country’s main opposition group, in a high-level rebuke that appeared to reflect fears that his arrest could incite new bouts of civil unrest in the troubled Persian Gulf nation.

The opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, who is the head of the main Shiite opposition al-Wefaq party, was taken into custody on Sunday. His detention was renewed for seven days on Tuesday, as prosecutors investigated charges, including that he had promoted “political change using illegal forceful means and threats,” according to a government statement.

The arrest appeared to be part of a rolling government crackdown on political opponents that has ensnared hundreds of dissidents and stretched for years, since a Shiite-led popular uprising in 2011 against Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy.
Spencer Haskins's insight:

We need to set the Al-Khalifa trash out to the curb for weekly pickup!

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Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa is on hunger strike

Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa is on hunger strike | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa who is observing continued and indefinite hunger strike since November 14 has hardened his stance regarding his demands.

Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa is seeking permanent release of 7 Sikh political prisoners who were sentenced to imprisonment by courts and who have already served the terms of their sentence.

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Bahrain: arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)

Bahrain: arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and torture of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR). On February 21, 2015, Mr. Jawad appeared before the Public Prosecution for another case brought against him (see background information). He appeared to have suffered from physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment. He was allegedly beaten, threatened with death, and (...)
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#ChinaQuitBalochistan

#ChinaQuitBalochistan | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
China and Pakistan are partners in crime against the Baloch 
nation. Balochistan is in a state of war with Pakistan and for
a country like China to name Baloch exploitation of resources
and land as development and prosperity is questionable.We 
request all Baloch political parties, human rights activists, 
social media activists, journalists and the international
community to join us in our online campaign to speak up
against Chinese exploitation of Baloch resources and 
illegal colonization of Balochistan by occupying Gawadar 
port with the help of Pakistan.Hashtag for 
the online campaign is: #ChinaQuitBalochistan
Date: 18th February 2015 Day: Wednesday
Timings: 8pm to 12 am (Balochistan)

 

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International Law and the Problem of Non-combatants, Civilians in the Baloch War of Independence

International Law and the Problem of Non-combatants, Civilians in the Baloch War of Independence | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
In 2014, Dr. Allah Nizar Baloch, the most respected intellectual-cum-guerrilla commander, in an interview with Tarek Fatah, a Toronto-based columnist, explained, “I am not a terrorist and we are not terrorists. We are fighting for our freedom and our struggle is based on the international law.”  Let us deliberate on the matter.

In a war of liberation, an occupying power always tries to present the rightful opposition to occupation as terrorism. The oppressed is presented falsely as backward, savage, terrorist and violator of human rights. And by doing so, the oppressor sets the stage in the eyes of the international community to justify occupation, oppression and atrocities carried out by the occupying power in the occupied territory. The state machinery and the wealth plundered from the subjugated people are used to conduct the overall operations in order to maintain control and prolong the unjust occupation.

Today, the Pakistani media as part of the state machinery is viciously engaged in a propaganda war against the liberation movement in the occupied Balochistan. The Pakistani state portrays Baloch freedom fighters as “miscreants – alienated Baloch – separatists – terrorists” to malign the true history of a people in struggle for rights and freedom. The case against the Baloch armed resistance as highlighted in the Pakistani press involves baseless accusations of carrying out a campaign of targeting Punjabi settlers in Balochistan. The press alleges that Baloch fighters attack innocent, non-combatant, non-Baloch civilians in Balochistan.  It is understandable that Pakistani media is supporting the state; however, such allegations are totally unfounded and baseless.

Pakistan occupied Balochistan in 1948. Since then the Baloch nation has resisted the unlawful occupation with armed uprisings and political struggles that have continued to date.  In all cases, Pakistan army was used to brutally crush the nationalist movement resulting in the militarization of Balochistan and complete ban on the political process.  Besides military means, there are other state machineries which underpin the Pakistani rule over Balochistan.

Along with the Pakistan army, the notorious Frontier Corps (FC), Makran Constabulary, Police, Levies and intelligence agencies have established basses, check posts, and surveillance networks in the universities, towns, tribal areas, sea ports, and energy-sensitive installations such as Sui in the Bugti area. Testing of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and WMDs in Chaghai area is part of the grand design to control, exploit and suppress the local populace in the province.

The already precarious situation in Balochistan has been further complicated by the state-sponsored use of religious card against Baloch nationalists. A number of proxy organizations and non-state actors are now actively involved in the targeted killings and enforced disappearances of Baloch leaders, intellectuals, students, and commoners.

Pakistani state-sponsored Talibanization is part of the counterinsurgency measures to contain the rising Baloch nationalism. It has led to the creation of militant jihadi outfits backed by the state now involved in secretive operations along with the FC and the army in Balochistan. Nifaz-e-Amn-e-Balochistan, Sipah-e-Shuhda-e-Balochistan, and Balochistan Musallah Difaei Tanzeem are a few examples of the ISI-founded groups targeting the Baloch resistance in addition to the ISIS chapter in Balochistan who call themselves the Lashkar-e-Khorasan.  These organizations operate openly at the behest of the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies and have openly claimed killing of Baloch activists. They publicly circulate their literature, do wall chalking, and terrorize local residents.  They have issued religious fatwas (decrees) against Baloch secular organizations, Zikis, and writers, intellectuals, target-killed educationists, forcefully shut down girl’s schools, and attacked women with acid on their faces. They are also responsible for carrying out genocide of Shia Hazaras and Baloch Zikri Community in Balochistan. Baloch freedom fighters have always countered such forces. However, ISIS presence in the region can change the scene forever in favor of Islamist terrorists if international community does not help Baloch organizations to resist their notorious agendas.
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Human rights situation in Tibet deteriorating, says NGO

Human rights situation in Tibet deteriorating, says NGO | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The human rights situation in Tibet is deteriorating, particularly death in detention, collective punishment and restrictions imposed on the right to freedom of assembly and association, the annual report of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) stressed.

It said Tibetan prisoners are subjected to torture, beatings and denial of medical care. "In 2014, an increasing number of Tibetans died because of mistreatment in detention," the 2014 annual report said.

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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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Bahrain Justice System Should Immediately Drop All Charges Against Nabeel Rajab | Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights | Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights

(January 19th, 2015 | Florence, Italy) To respect the basic right of free expression and end judicial persecution and harassment, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls on the court of Bahrain to drop all charges against Nabeel Rajab. The government cannot guarantee an independent procedure in this case and should present evidence to justify the detention and trial or Rajab and others.

Rajab's being held is the latest in a government crackdown against political opposition. In addition, Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of the main political opposition recognized legally in Bahrain, has been held since December 29th, 2014 and charged with the promotion of violence and defamation of "a statutory body". Last week the government arbitrarily arrested nine children under 18 years of age.

All of these incidents are violations of the freedom of expression for anyone brave enough to raise their voice against the regime. Tomorrow 20th January, Nabeel Rajab should be released and no further unjustified prosecutions should continue.

Frank LaRue
Director, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe
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‘Saudi human rights record worst in region: 1 beheading every 4 days’

‘Saudi human rights record worst in region: 1 beheading every 4 days’ | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
As long as Saudi oil is seen as a valuable resource for US oil corporations, the US will maintain relations with the feudal regime regardless of what that means for the rights of Saudi people, Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, told RT.
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Hussain Jawad Case Presents Bahrain With Key Test on Speech

Hussain Jawad Case Presents Bahrain With Key Test on Speech | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Yesterday, Bahrain's foreign minister took part in a Paris rally in protest of the recent killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices and elsewhere. Meanwhile, his government continues to harass journalists and other peaceful critics, including human rights defender Hussain Jawad, who is charged with free speech-related offenses and faces court tomorrow.

Chair of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR), Jawad faces the usual charges levied against human rights activists -- insulting the monarchy and inciting hatred against the regime. It's an important case not only because Jawad is a prominent member of civil society in Bahrain, but also because his arrest occurred when he went to a police station to complain about his being targeted by a newspaper that is loyal to the government.
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In Haiti, the State and International Community Continue to Trounce Human Rights

In Haiti, the State and International Community Continue to Trounce Human Rights | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Some things never change. In Haiti, no matter the century or decade in question, one can be certain that: the state and elite are trouncing the rights and needs of the majority, the population is protesting to demand land and justice, and the international community is taking the wrong side.

Five years after the earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 (no one knows for sure) and rendered 1.9 million more people homeless, the fraudulently elected administration of Michel Martelly has abandoned any pretense of democracy.Having failed to hold elections three years in a row, instead letting national and local elective seats become vacant, the government now rules by decree. It is alsoattacking and killing human rights defenders. The elite, in combination with foreign corporations, are seizing land for agribusiness, mining, tourism, and free trade zones. The grassroots has taken to the streets to demand democratic government and an end to foreign occupation by the UN. Social movements are also mobilizing for defense of land, housing, and rights. The US has, until recent months, staunchly supported the government. It has backed this support with “security” funding, including more than $7 million for the police in 2015, for a nation not at war against anyone but its own people.

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Protesters, police clash after Washington criticizes Bahrain arrest

Protesters, police clash after Washington criticizes Bahrain arrest | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Protesters clashed with police near Bahrain's capitol in the seventh straight day of demonstrations over the detention of Sheikh Ali Salman, a leading opposition figure.
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Clashes erupt at demonstrations in Bahrain

Clashes erupt at demonstrations in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Anti-riot police and hundreds of demonstrators keeping up daily protests to demand the release of Bahrain's main Shia opposition leader have clashed in villages near Manama, witnesses said.

An unspecified number of arrests were made and people wounded as police fired buckshot and tear gas to disperse the protests staged after weekly prayers in mosques on Friday.

The demonstrators, including women and children, carried portraits of jailed Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman and chanted slogans calling for his release.

Anti-riot police were deployed in force on an avenue which links several Shia villages to the west of the capital and manned checkpoints on main roads to prevent the protests from spilling over, witnesses said.

It was the sixth straight day of protests since Salman, 49, was arrested on Sunday, accused of making statements inciting violence.

Protests on Thursday also turned violent and witnesses reported clashes in central Manama after prayers at the capital's Mumen mosque.

Previous unrest has centred on Shia communities in the suburbs.

Police used tear gas and batons against the protesters, and some injuries and arrests were reported.

"Dozens of people ... including women and children, were arrested," a statement from the Bahrain Observatory for Human Rights said.

Salman, 49, heads the Al-Wefaq movement, was charged on Monday with seeking to use force to change the regime.

The US, which has its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, has also expressed deep concern about Salman's detention, warning that it could only inflame the persistent violence that has gripped the kingdom since 2011.

Bahrain is a majority Shia country ruled by minority Sunnis.

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UN, EU Concerned at Arrest of Top Bahrain Shiite Leader, Sheikh Ali Salman

UN, EU Concerned at Arrest of Top Bahrain Shiite Leader, Sheikh Ali Salman | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

...The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Liz Throssell, urged Bahrain's government to immediately release Salman, "as well as all other persons convicted or detained for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly...."

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