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The Systematic Repression of Freedom ContinuesOn the advent of Eid Al Fitr, we extend our greetings to all Muslims, especially our people in Bahrain who are engaged in their struggle for freedom and democracy. Special greetings are due to the defenders of the dispossessed, Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja and the twelve other brave men languishing in the torture chambers of the Al Khalifa.A number of developments that generate great concerns amongst observers have developed in Bahrain over the past few weeks.The first was the unlawful detention of the human rights activist, Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, after publicly criticising the Government’s performance in handling the issue of poverty in Bahrain. The second is the brutal and total clamp down of picketers and demonstrators sympathising with Al Khawaja after his detention. The thirds is the arrest of around thirty pf the protesters on September 25, 04.These actions of abuse to human rights and civil liberties by the Government of Bahrain led to widespread criticism by local and international human rights organizations, and place Bahrain, once again, on the list of countries that have gross violation of human rights.Embarrassed by these criticisms, the Government yet embarked on a step seen as an attempt to legalise the repressive measures against the people of Bahrain. The Government-initiated proposals for organising public gathering and demonstrations are seen by political groups, journalists and observers as a new and more serious set back in the defunct reforms programme. The absolute control that the proposed legislations give the Ministry of Interior make every protest, or any gathering not possible without the permission of the Ministry of Interior. There is now growing public discontent against the intended measures to repress freedom and restrict the activities of cultural and political groups. The present settings of the Al Khalifa-controlled parliament under the King’s autocracy eliminates the ability of the elected members to stop the anti-human rights proposals. A democracy that threatens the citizens of Bahrain to “crash them with dozers” as has recently been demanded by Khalifa Al Dhahrani, the President of that entity, is certainly unable to reverse a government-initiated proposals to curtail freedom.While the systematic repression of freedom continues in Bahrain, the opposition groups should unite together more than ever to ensure that this proposal is not passed. The world is, once again, put on notice, to take stands against these draconian laws that the Al Khalifa dictatorship intends to impose on the people of Bahrain.Bahrain Freedom Movement

14 November 2004

Courtroom Drama: Al Khawaja exposes his torture woundsThis morning, the people of Bahrain were horrified to know that the human rights activist, Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, has been tortured by the Al Khalifa torture apparatus. In front of the Al Khalifa-appointed Egyptian judge, Al Khawaja took off his shirt to expose horrific wounds caused by severe torture including beating by hoses and other materials. He expected the bewildered judge to order an investigation into this crime, but, instead, he adjourned the trial for two weeks. The wounds were visible to those who were present in the court, while the foreign-staffed riot police were out in force to prevent any expression of outrage. Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, the Executive Director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was forced to attend today’s session after he had declared his decision to boycott it. He cited the lack of any sign of justice in his trial which is based on outdated laws and procedures. In the previous session, Al Khawaja questioned the judge on the legality of the court, and decided that he would not attend any future sessions. He asked his lawyers not to attend either. The Al Khalifa could not swallow this public humiliation and it is now certain, that they had poured their fury on this defence-less man. He was bundled by six huge hitmen into a police car to be taken to court. Unlike his earlier appearances when he was smartly dressed, today’s appearance was totally different. Mr Al Khawaja was dressed in shabby clothing, and in shackles. His crime, this time, has included “undermining the judiciary” by his decision to boycott the summary court. He was set upon by Al Khalifa’s torturers, using extreme force beating and disfiguring him.It is worth noting that 48 years ago, the leaders of the popular movement decided to remain silent throughout their trial and not to defend themselves. They knew the verdict had been decided by the Al Khalifa ruling family, and there was no point to argue with the “judges” who comprised of the British Advisor, Charles Belgrave alongside a member of the Al Khalifa family.The original crime of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja was his criticism of the prime minister for mishandling the economy and causing enormous poverty in the country. In the Al KHalifa democracy, no citizen is allowed to question the policies of the ruling family or shed any light on their malpractices. The family of Al Khawaja appeals to the world to intervene to save Abdul Hadi from the Al Khalifa savagery. Around 30 people are currently languishing in the torture chambers, some of whom are suffering various ailments. They are all prisoners of conscience.Bahrain Freedom Movement

8 November 2004

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