…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Criminalizing Violation against Freedom of Expression

Experts say “crimes against freedom of expression” should have special status
26 June, 2012 – by Français Partager

Reporters Without Borders welcomes yesterday’s joint declaration by four international experts calling on governments to treat “crimes against freedom of expression” as a special category under criminal law and thereby provide journalists and other news providers with better protection.

The joint call was issued by the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe representative on freedom of the media, the Organization of American States special rapporteur on freedom of expression and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information.

It came just five days after both Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Christoph Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, issued separate reports calling for greater efforts to protect journalists.

“These four experts have issued their joint call for crimes against freedom of expression to be assigned a special status under criminal law, with specific penalties, because they recognize the role that freedom of information plays in society, whether the information providers are professional journalists, citizen journalists or netizens,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“This joint declaration also testifies to the concern these experts feel for the safety of news providers and their awareness of the urgency of the situation. It stresses that governments have an obligation to investigate these crimes, to protect the victims and ensure that they have access to justice.”

Reporters Without Borders hopes that the joint declaration and the two reports will encourage state and non-state actors to adopt concrete measures to protect journalists and to combat impunity for those responsible for acts of violence against them.

“These experts have paved the way,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Now it is up to governments to implement their recommendations and give them binding force as soon as possible.”

A total of 29 professional journalists and at least 12 citizen journalists have been killed since the start of 2012 because of their commitment to providing news and information. Dozens of journalists have also been forced to flee abroad to escape harassment, violence, threats of arbitrary arrest or death. A total of 80 journalists fled into exile in 2011. …source

June 26, 2012   No Comments

Thugs or Groupies? Highlighting Issues of Police Discrimination in Bahrain

Thugs or Groupies? Highlighting Issues of Police Discrimination in Bahrain
11 April, 2012 – Marc Owen Jones – marcowenjones.wordpress.com

In what was apparently a display of solidarity with Bahrain’s security forces, hundreds of pro-regime Sunnis ended up at Alba roundabout to protest against what the Ministry of Interior described as a ‘terrorist blast’ in the village of Al-Eker. The explosion, which injured 7 policeman, has already resulted in the arrest of 4 people following a dawn raid on the village. Al-Wefaq reported that the sister of one of those arrested had her shoulder broken when security forces attacked the family during the raid.

Such reports of heavy-handed policing are of course commonplace in Bahrain, but to what extent are they selective, and to what extent are the security forces just an instrument used to prop up ‘Sunni hegemony’ in Bahrain (Strobl, 2011). Although the answer to that question is self evident for many, the events of last night and the past week provide a very good snapshot of how the police in Bahrain operate, for they illustrate how the MOI deal with crime when it is carried out by those who support the regime.

Firstly, despite the presence of hundreds of pro-regime supporters at a roundabout, the security forces seemed reluctant to commit the same excessive force they employ when dealing with anti-government protests. The video shows civilians overturning and smashing up the car of a man who reportedly honked ‘down with Hamad’. It is sometime before the security forces intervene, despite the considerable amount of time it would have taken to damage the car. This photo even shows a man standing on the upturned vehicle.

A number of people then proceeded to attack 24 Hour Supermarket, a property owned by Jawads Group, a company frequently targeted by some pro-regime elements after they were accused of giving out free food to those at the Pearl Roundabout. Indeed, this report from the 2nd April 2012 states that Jawads owned properties had suffered 54 attacks on their premises since March last year. Some of the attackers even appeared to have firearms. …more

April 11, 2012   No Comments

Washington’s Policies Endorse Murder and Repression granting impunity to Criminal Regime

Washington-backed monarchy murdering its own people
1 April, 2012 – Ahlul Bayt News Agency

(ABNA) – Bahrainis want democratic change, sectarian Shia discrimination ended, equitable distribution of state wealth, political prisoners released, and terrorizing stopped. They also want popularly elected leaders replacing Al-Khalifa rule. It’s despotic, ruthless and intolerable.

For months, many thousands braved security force attacks with tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, and disappearances.

Last March, Saudi troops entered Bahrain guns blazing. They remain, terrorizing Bahraini men, women, children, doctors, journalists, human rights activists, and foreign observers. So do state police.

No matter. King Hamad’s a close US ally. Bahrain’s the home of America’s Fifth Fleet. Generous aid’s provided. So are weapons, including armored vehicles, bunker buster missiles, wire-guided ones, others to attack protesters, and more.

On March 26, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) published a report titled, “A BCHR Report on Human Rights Violations since the BICI Recommendations.”

BICI refers to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. It published its findings last November 23, followed by a final December revision.

Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja is a former Front Line Protection Coordinator and former BCHR President. Last April, Bahraini police arrested and beat him unconscious. He’s currently hunger striking for justice. Earlier, he twice did for nine days. His current one began on February 8. As of March 31, he refused food for 53 days. He demands freedom or death.

His life’s seriously at risk. He’s been unjustly imprisoned and severely tortured. Last June, he was sentenced to life in prison. At issue is his courageous human rights work. Without help, he’ll die. Washington and rogue NATO partners ignore him. So do Arab League despots and major media scoundrels.

BCHR’s report discussed months of state terror. It categorized them under separate headings. They include:

Extrajudicial Killings

Over 60 deaths are known. No murder charges followed. A few police “show trials” involved “accidental deaths or beatings” causing death. Bahrain’s government denies responsibility.

No independent access to examine forensic evidence was granted. Doctors who wrote false causes weren’t held accountable. Families of those killed are targeted. Homes are raided. Arrests follow. Property is destroyed. Bahrainis continue to be terrorized. …more

April 6, 2012   No Comments

Stopping Spy Tech Transfer that enables Brutal Regimes

Time to Act on Companies Selling Mass Spy Gear to Authoritarian Regimes
February 7, 2012 – By Trevor Timm – EFF

On Wednesday, EFF will give recommendations to the European Parliament for how to combat one of the most troubling problems facing democracy activists around the world: the fact that European and American companies are providing key surveillance technology to authoritarian governments that is then being used to aid repression.

Recent reports by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News have exposed the shadowy but growing industry that sells electronic spy gear to governments known for violating human rights. The technology’s reach is very broad: governments can listen in on cell phone calls, use voice recognition to scan mobile networks, read emails and text messages, censor web pages, track one’s every movement using GPS, and can even change email contents while en route to a recipient. Some tools are installed using the same type of malicious malware and spyware used by online criminals to steal credit card and banking information. They can secretly turn on webcams built into personal laptops and microphones in unused cell phones. And all of this information is filtered and organized on such a massive scale that it can be used to spy on every person in an entire country.

Ordinary citizens, journalists, human rights campaigners and democracy advocates have all been targeted, eviscerating privacy rights and chilling free speech. Ample evidence suggests information acquired through this spy gear appears has played a role in the harassment, threats, and even torture of journalists, human rights campaigners, and democracy activists. Yet dozens of companies from the U.S. and E.U continue to sell this technology, including to authoritarian regimes. The market for surveillance equipment has grown to a staggering $5 billion a year.

Dutch member of the EU Parliament Marietje Schaake has been trying to spearhead an effort to curb sales of this type of technology to repressive regimes. In September, the EU parliament passed a resolution proposed by Ms. Schaake which called on European countries to regulate sales of this dangerous surveillance tools if they can be used in human rights violations. She has also asked the European Commission to investigate sales by these companies to the governments of Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt. On Wednesday, EFF will be testifying at a workshop for Committee of International Trade and Committee on Foreign Affairs, co-chaired by Ms. Schaake. Here is part of what we will say:


First, transparency is key. The mass surveillance industry as a whole has been notoriously secretive and that has, in turn, allowed it to proliferate without meaningful safeguards. But we know that just having this information in the public eye can, by itself, force change. Companies have pulled out of countries and created official human rights policies thanks to news reports. The world program director of I.S.S. Tatiana Lucas even complained that shining a spotlight on these practices “makes U.S. manufacturers gun shy about developing, and eventually exporting, anything that can remotely be used to support government surveillance.” We want to turn up the heat on these companies even more to be accountable for selling to authoritarian regimes. …more

February 7, 2012   No Comments

As State escalates violence, murders and torture against oppostion, King Hamad blocks Human Rights Observers from entry into Country

Bahrain bars human rights groups as unrest escalates
27 January, 2012 – by Sara Yasin – XIndex

When Index on Censorship visited Bahrain on a fact finding mission late last year, officials repeatedly pledged to maintain a transparent relationship with the international community. Now that undertaking seems just another broken promise. Three international rights organisations have been denied entry this year.

The fact-finding mission investigated the state of free expression in Bahrain. We detailed our findings in a report released this week. In meetings with officials from the Ministry of Human Rights, the mission was promised that as long as the correct procedures were followed, we (and other organisations) would be allowed to enter Bahrain.

Earlier this month Bahrain refused to grant the visas to staff from Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First, asking that they delay until March. Despite having visas and a scheduled meeting with the US Embassy, a delegation from Freedom House was barred from entering the country on 19 January, only days before they planned to travel. Authorities asked that the organisation delay their trip until the end of February.

“I was very disappointed that I was unable to go”, Freedom House’s Courtney Radsch told Index. According to Freedom House, the mission’s was not related to political unrest in the county but part of a programme monitoring the empowerment of rural women started in 2010. Radsch said that the decision showed the “complete hypocrisy” of officials. In a blog post, Radsch quoted King Hamad assuring the international community that they would have any open door, saying ”any government which has a sincere desire for reform and progress understands the benefit of objective and constructive criticism.”

A violent crackdown on daily protests continues, and despite the BICI committee’s recommendation that prisoners be released or employees be reinstated, many Bahrainis have been unable to resume their daily lives. Even the chair of the BICI commission, Cherif Bassiouni, who previously commended the King for commissioning the report, said that critics would be justified in calling Bahrain’s sluggish implementation of their recommendations a “whitewash“.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition are growing restless, and this week things took a bloody turn. Violence escalated between protesters and security forces Wednesday, as some younger opposition members attacked police officers. Wednesday’s violence reportedly resulted in four deaths, including that of Mohamed Yacqoub, 18. While human rights activists Index spoke to were insistent on peaceful protest methods, they warned of things taking a more violent turn if brutality against peaceful protesters were to continue after the release of the BICI report. …source

January 27, 2012   Comments Off on As State escalates violence, murders and torture against oppostion, King Hamad blocks Human Rights Observers from entry into Country

Sanitas International the smiley face of death and despair

Sanitas International
1101 Pennsylvania Ave – 6th Floor NW – Washington DC 20004
Tel: 202.756.1961 – Email: info@sanitasint.com

Sanitas International is a strategic communications, public affairs, digital media and political advisory firm. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm develops innovative strategies and high-stakes solutions for a broad range of clients located in some of the most challenging environments around the world. The firm also develops strategies for clients looking to influence legislation and public opinion both in Washington, DC, throughout the United States and in specific markets abroad.

Everyday Sanitas addresses challenges for a diverse portfolio of global clients, providing innovative and creative solutions tailored specifically to each of their needs. Sanitas handles some of the most critical issues influencing global policy, affecting the bottom line of international corporations and tarnishing the reputation of young leaders. The company also specializes in communications, branding and political strategies in developing countries and emerging markets around the world and we support client specific sectors such in the fields of Defense, Manufacturing, Energy, International Affairs and Veteran Affairs. …more

January 23, 2012   No Comments

Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression

Bahrain: Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression
Top Western appointments allegedly aimed at improving human rights…
Global Research, January 2, 2012 – by Finian Cunningham

Two former police chiefs from the US and Britain have brought discernible Western “expertise” to the Bahraini force only weeks following their appointments – a surge in repression and state terrorism.

Former Miami police chief John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, formerly commander at London’s Scotland Yard, were assigned last month by Bahrain’s royal rulers to “oversee reform” of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s security forces. Officially, the appointment of the American and Briton was to bring Western professional policing to the Bahraini force and specifically to upgrade the human rights record of Bahrain’s ministry of interior and National Security Agency.

The assignments were announced by King Hamad Al Khalifa following a report by an international commission of inquiry into widespread human rights violations in the US-backed oil kingdom since pro-democracy protests erupted there last February.

As reported earlier by Global Research, the inquiry report and the subsequent appointment of the US and British police chiefs appeared to be a public relations exercise to burnish the tarnished image of this key Persian Gulf ally of Washington and London [1].

However, only weeks into their jobs, the Western commanders appear to have been given a remit that goes well beyond public relations, namely, to sharpen the repression against the pro-democracy movement.

Human rights activists and several political sources say that state forces have dramatically stepped up violence towards protesters and targeting of the Shia community generally. The diminutive island state of less than 600,000 nationals is comprised mainly of Shia muslims (70 per cent) who are ruled over by a Sunni elite installed by Britain when the kingdom gained nominal independence in 1971. American and British government support for the unelected Al Khalifa monarchy is viewed by the majority of Bahrainis as being at odds with their claims for democratic rights.

Over the past year, Bahraini state forces have killed some 50 people; thousands have been maimed, wounded and detained, many of the latter tortured. Proportionate to its population, such state violence is comparable to what Washington and London have loudly denounced the Libyan and Syrian regimes for – indeed mounting a military invasion of the former and threatening to do so in the latter – under the guise of “protecting human rights”. By contrast, there is hardly a word of denunciation from Washington or London towards the Bahraini regime, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

“The violence is worse than ever,” said one Bahraini pro-democracy activist. “The state security forces are operating with new tactics and this change coincides with the arrival of the American and British police chiefs. But this is no coincidence. We believe that the Bahraini police are using more repression and terror under the orders of these police chiefs.”

Since the appointment of the American and British commanders, at least five more civilians have been killed at the hands of police, including a 15-year-old boy Sayed Hashim who was shot in the face with a teargas canister on New Year’s Eve, and a 27-year-old woman who was bludgeoned with an iron bar. …more

January 3, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Feature: Repression Tears Apart a Country

Bahrain Feature: Repression Tears Apart a Country (Shadid)
Friday, September 16, 2011 – Scott Lucas – EA WorldView

Demolition of a Shia Mosque in BahrainAn interesting parallel to James Miller’s coverage on EA of the situation in Bahrain — Anthony Shadid, who in my opinion is one of the best reporters for first-hand observation, reports for The New York Times:

The battle began soon after sundown. And for the next six hours, in air heavy with heat and tear gas, phalanxes of police officers in helmets battled scores of youths in ski masks, as customers at a Costa Coffee not far away sat like spectators.

No one won in the clashes, which erupt almost every night in this Persian Gulf state. Five months after the start of a ferocious crackdown against a popular uprising — so sweeping it smacks of apartheid-like repression of Bahrain’s religious majority — many fear that no one can win.

“This is all cutting so deep,” said Abdulnabi Alekry, an activist whose car was stopped at one of the checkpoints of trash bins, wood and bricks the youth had fashioned during the clash in August. “The fabric here was never that strong, and now it is torn.”

In the revolts that have roiled the Middle East this year, toppling or endangering a half-dozen leaders, Bahrain, an island kingdom once best known for its pearls and banks, has emerged as the cornerstone of a counterrevolution to stanch demands for democracy. While the turmoil elsewhere has proved unpredictable — the ascent of Islamists in Egypt, the threat of civil war in Syria and the prospect of anarchy in Yemen — Bahrain suggests that the alternative, a failed uprising cauterized by searing repression, may prove no less dangerous.

See also Bahrain Special: New Martyrs, New Protests, New Crackdown

The crackdown here has won a tactical and perhaps ephemeral victory through torture, arrests, job dismissals and the blunt tool of already institutionalized discrimination against the island’s Shiite Muslim majority. In its wake, sectarian tension has exploded, economic woes have deepened, American willingness to look the other way has cast Washington as hypocritical and a society that prides itself on its cosmopolitanism is colliding with its most primordial instincts. Taken together, the repression and warnings of radicalization may underline an emerging dictum of the Arab uprisings: violence begets violence.

“The situation is a tinderbox, and anything could ignite it at any moment,” said Ali Salman, the general secretary of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest legal opposition group. “If we can’t succeed in bringing democracy to this country, then our country is headed toward violence. Is it in a year or two years? I don’t know. But that’s the reality.”

For decades, Bahrain’s relative openness and entrenched inequality have made it one of the Arab world’s most restive countries, as a Shiite majority numbering as much as 70 percent of the population seeks more rights from a Sunni monarchy that conquered the island in the 18th century. But February was a new chapter in the struggle, when the reverberations of Egypt and Tunisia reached Bahrain and, after bloody clashes, protesters seized a landmark known as Pearl Square, where they stayed for weeks. …more

September 18, 2011   No Comments

In shameful move Pakistan displays no dignity or self respect, agrees to send troops to repress Bahrain opposition

Pakistan to send more troops to Bahrain
23/08/2011 – August 22, 2011

TEHRAN – Pakistan has agreed to dispatch more mercenaries to Bahrain to help Al Khalifa regime’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in the Persian Gulf state.

The agreement was reached when President Asif Ali Zardari met King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa during his one-day visit to Bahrain on Wednesday last, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Manama has been recruiting former soldiers and policemen from Pakistan at a steady rate to strengthen the government’s forces. In many demonstrations, Bahraini protesters shouted slogans against Pakistani security forces in Urdu. Pakistani and Saudi forces have played a major rule in suppressing anti-government protests in Bahrain since the beginning of unrest in the Persian Gulf country.

Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters have been holding peaceful anti-government rallies throughout the Middle Eastern country since February, demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa family.

Scores of people have been killed and many more arrested and tortured in prisons in a government-sanctioned crackdown on protests since the beginning of the demonstrations.

According to a Bahraini human rights group, there are currently over 1,000 political detainees inside the country. …source

August 25, 2011   No Comments

Standing on the side of justice is never something to fear – overcoming being made to feel guilty for crimes we did not commit.

The most powerful weapon is our humanity
Dina Elmuti – The Electronic Intifada – 13 July 2011

When I left Palestine a few weeks ago, I left behind more than the place I had come to call home, its generous people I had come to call family, and all the warm, exotic sights, smells, tastes and sounds of a world that revived my spirit, conscience, passion and will to live.

I left my heart behind. Driving away toward Tel Aviv, the Palestine I know and love began to fade into the background, as I quickly made one last mental map of the geography of occupation around me, evident in the carefully-plotted demarcations separating “us” from “them.” A world compartmentalized; the settlements, gates, trenches, and watchtowers confine my heart, leaving a caustic pang in my gut as I continued driving on my way through modern-day apartheid.

After passing an extensive security inspection at the checkpoint a mile outside of Ben Gurion Airport’s main terminal, my family and I were permitted entry into the airport where we stood in line, along with all the other Muslims, Arabs, and people of color, waiting and watching our baggage unpacked and inspected for the second time around, continuing to answer the same questions for the tenth time from the tenth person.

Watching every last thing unpacked and inspected with a chemical sniffing device, I realized that Palestinians are not the only ones strangled and imprisoned by this system of oppression and constant fear of existential threats. Israelis are too. Behind barbed wire and power-operated gates controlled by guard towers and security cameras, their lives have been reduced to the state of animals trapped behind metal cages in the zoos they’ve built themselves on the bloodshed and demolition of others.

A life consumed by fear, intimidation, and oppressive censorship not only dehumanizes the oppressed but the oppressor as well. As I watched the guards meticulously leaf through and swab the pages of my books for bomb residues or any other suspicious evidence, I pitied the ethnocentric hysteria and racial profiling creating Israel’s most dangerous threat and worst enemy: itself.

A life consumed by fear, intimidation, and oppressive censorship not only dehumanizes the oppressed but the oppressor as well. As I watched the guards meticulously leaf through and swab the pages of my books for bomb residues or any other suspicious evidence, I pitied the ethnocentric hysteria and racial profiling creating Israel’s most dangerous threat and worst enemy: itself.

In recent days, hundreds of activists from all around the world flew in to Ben Gurion Airport. Dozens have been deported and dozens more are in detention for nothing more than accepting an invitation from Palestinians to visit them in the West Bank in a peaceful challenge to Israel’s apartheid.

They have refused to be bullied into omitting where they’ll be going or who they’ll be seeing. They won’t play the “tourist card” or hide their affiliation with a noble cause in exchange for a stamped visa by an oppressive state.

Standing on the side of justice is never something to fear, and to ultimately be liberated from our oppression, we must first have the courage to liberate ourselves from the inferiority complex that has debilitated us too long. And when we do, the look on the oppressor’s face will no longer strike fear into our hearts or nail us to the spot. Their voices will no longer petrify us, and we will no longer be uneasy in their presence or be made to feel guilty for crimes we did not commit.

If defending the lives of children, traumatized by being shot at while flying kites, by having to witness their families massacred right before their eyes, and by having their childhoods stolen before ever beginning for the crime of being born Palestinian, makes us criminals and terrorists, then so be it. …source

July 14, 2011   No Comments

Manama’s McCarthyism

McCarthyism in Manama?
By Kanya D’Almeida

WASHINGTON, Apr 27, 2011 (IPS) – As the savage crackdown on the majority Shiite opposition movement drags on in Bahrain, King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa’s military regime – backed by the hefty armed forces of Sunni- dominated Saudi Arabia – has moved from launching outright assaults on peaceful protestors on the streets of Manama in broad daylight into the murky waters of what experts are calling state terror, featuring all the old tactics of petrifying a population into submission.

On top of facing over 1,500 troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)’s most formidable army, the Bahraini people appear to be increasingly encountering the far more sinister face of a monarchy desperate to retain power in the oil-rich Gulf state as regimes topple around it. Midnight knocks on doors, unmarked vehicles whisking activists away in the dead of night and relentless suppression of the media are fast pushing Bahrain into an abyss of impunity, critics here say.

“What we are seeing in [Bahrain] today is like what the United States saw in the 1950s under McCarthyism,” Dr. Muneera Fakhro, a leader of the left-leaning Wa’ad party, told a gathering of activists, reporters and policy heads at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington Tuesday. …more

April 28, 2011   No Comments