Bahrain: Repression intensifies as Revolution is re-invigorated

Since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan the Bahraini Revolution has escalated dramatically. At least 25 demonstrations have taken place every day and night with one clear message: The people want regime change. Chanting like “Down with Hamad” has become the standard slogan uttered by the men and women participating in those protests.

The regime’s brutality has also not diminished. The use of chemical gases has intensified dramatically in the past three weeks. While the zeal of the people has intensified, the regime’s repression knows no bounds. Makeshift clinics in towns and villages have offered first aid to the victims who fear for their life to go to the main hospital at Salmaniya which is run by the military. Many observers believe that the situation has reached the point of no-return. The Alkhalifa regime is doomed as the people unanimously refuse to accept to be ruled by tribal hereditary dictatorship. Neither side is in a mood to compromise or engage in any form of dialogue. The hostilities have become so entrenched in the public domain that it is hard to imagine any kind of reconciliation between the two sides.

The Alkhalifa have lost the opportunity to retain any degree of power. They have reduced their choices to one; crushing the people to the ground with no compromise. On 23rd July Amnesty International called on the Alkhalifa to release all political prisoners: Bahrain must release all prisoners of conscience immediately and without conditions, Amnesty, ahead of appeals in the cases of a prominent human rights activist and a group of medical workers. Yet the regime deferred the case of Nabeel Rajab for another session in September. “The charade of justice has gone on too long in Bahrain, and all prisoners of conscience must be set free immediately and unconditionally before these appeals take place,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.

“All convictions against them should be quashed.”

Nine months ago the Bissiouni report also recommended that these prisoners be released. None of the serious recommendations of the report has been implemented.

In another development, Bahraini Pro-democracy activists received the malware in Washington, London and Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the Persian Gulf kingdom that has been gripped by tension since a crackdown on protests last year.

Researchers believe they’ve identified copies of FinFisher, (a spyware sold by U.K.- based Gamma Group) based on an examination of malicious software e-mailed to Bahraini activists, they say. Their research, which is being published today by the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab, is based on five different e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News from people targeted by the malware.

On Monday 23rd July The Times newspaper published a one page article about Bahrain titled “Police ‘dodge security clean-up by torturing detainees at secret sites” highlighting the tactics adopted by the regime in its repression of activists.

The detainees whose number now exceeds 1200 are now facing severe crackdown. At the Dry Dock Prison detainees have been attacked at the middle of the night as a means of intimidation and repression. The cooling system has been switched off intermittently and the detainees have been subjected to more torture and beating.

Iran has demanded that the Revolution in Bahrain be listed on the agenda of an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called for by Saudi Arabia next week. This is a serious moral challenge to the Saudis whose forces are still occupying Bahrain and which is deeply involved in supporting the armed militias fighting in Syria. The discussion must not be confined to the events of one particular country. The Saudis are reported to have used extensive torture against a prominent scholar, Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr, who was arrested two weeks ago. Demonstrations have erupted in several towns of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia with more injuries and arrests.

As the London Olympics have been bogged down by the attendance of a notorious torturer; Nasser bin Hamad Alkhalifa,  around 140 buses have carried an advert about the serious human rights crisis for everyone to read. It has shaken the regime to its core as people in the streets in London were shocked by those images. 

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