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Bahrain: Systematic Torture, immunity to torturers Thursday 26th June marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The day is regarded as a special occasion for Bahrainis who have suffered systematic torture by the authorities over the last four decades.  The government of Bahrain, headed by the Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, had always been on the top list of countries that practiced torture against political prisoners. International human rights organizations have persistently condemned such inhumane treatment of detainees in Bahrain.  The systematic torture was institutionalized soon after the arrival in 1966 of the British colonial officer, Ian Henderson. The Al Khalifa government justified the practice of torture on the grounds of ‘national security’ and ‘fighting against terrorism’. Torture cannot be justified under any circumstances. The systematic and widespread employment of this evil practice in Bahrain is a crime against people under domestic and international laws. Therefore, granting impunity to torturers by Sheikh Hamad under the Royal Decree 56-2002, cannot be tolerated. All criminals who have committed crime of torture and violated human rights like Ian Henderson, Adel Flaifel, A. Rahman Bin Saqar Al Khalifa, Mahmood Akori, A.Aziz Atiyyat Allah must be brought to justice.  Thousands of victims of torture and members of their families around the world are given assistance by local or international bodies; however, Bahraini victims have not received any help yet. On the other hand, the torturers and criminals are promoted and sheltered against prosecution.  There has been no attempt by the government for ‘national reconciliation’ although many civil societies in Bahrain have been calling for it. The ruling family is trying to avoid such a move and recently ignored a petition signed by more than 33,000 Bahrainis asking the government to compensate the victims and punish the torturers.  We take this opportunity to remind the government of Bahrain to take the following actions:  1. Repeal Royal Decree no. 56 ­ 2002 that protects torturers and grants them immunity from prosecution. All torturers must be brought to justice.  2. Compensate all victims of torture and their families and assist those who need medical, psychological, social, economic, legal and humanitarian assistance or rehabilitation. 3. Establish a mechanism and laws with which will allow any future incidents of torture to be investigated and in accordance with international laws.  4. Implement the international Convention Against Torture that was signed by the government of Bahrain by submitting the required report. Bahrain Freedom Movement

26 June 2003 

The Gulf Cultural Club 45 Chalton Street, London NW1 1HY, Tel/Fax: 020 7608 2564 Globalisation and the new world order: what are the alternatives? By Paul Feldman * 6.30 pm, Thursday 19th June 2003 refreshments available from 6.00 pm, dinner 8.00 pm

Paul Feldman is a journalist of long standing who has worked on a number of newspapers and magazines during his career. He was political correspondent on the left-wing daily paper, the News Line during the early 1980s. He then worked for the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone. Later he was Scandinavia correspondent for The Guardian. He is the joint author of a book on a leading figure of the revolutionary left in Britain.. Paul Feldman is editor of Socialist Future magazine, which is a theoretical quarterly journal of the Movement for a Socialist Future. He is also chief editor of the MSF website.

A declaration of discontent During the initial months of his rule following the death of his father, the King of Bahrain commented on his so-called reforms programme by saying “the happiest days have not been lived yet”. In good faith and good will, the people of Bahrain offered their full support to the much-publicised reforms. The imposition on 14 February 2002 of the King’s constitution on the political life in Bahrain represented the first major setback, resulting in widespread pessimism in the whole concept of reforms that made its first steps through undemocratic means. The subsequent months witnessed events contrary to those words of the king. The short lived freedom of speech soon suffered serious repressive measures through tough legislations directed at curbing the flood of writers and public gatherings. Another setback is the issue of union formation rights granted to the public sector employees by the 1973 Constitution, the National Action Charter and International Agreements signed by the Government of Bahrain, but confiscated by a Royal Decree, thus creating a legal complexity where right and wrong are no longer valid, and civil rights are continuously abused. The deprivation of the public sector employees from their right to form their own unions comes to confirm the Government’s attitude towards accountability, transparency and abdication of autocratic means of dealing with its people. The demonstration on Sunday (1st June) by taxi and bus drivers comes as another expression of anger against the uncontrolled legislations and policies that give little consideration to their working conditions. The licensing of private taxi companies, run by influential figures in the country, represents a serious threat to the driver’s interests as these influential figures continue their business adventures without fear of legislations to control them. The state of despair within the drivers community was so significant that one of the banners raised by an old driver during the demonstration asked the question “where are the happiest days that have not been lived?”. This implies that there is real dissatisfaction tantamount to the declaration of discontent caused by a series of failures of policies and a derailed reform programme. The march gathered momentum towards the office of the Prime Minister, where a cabinet meeting was in progress. But only if the Prime Minister would listen to the grievances of those who suffered, or is the cabinet again busy making legislations that further the widespread sufferings around the country? Bahrain Freedom Movement

4 June 2003

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