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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

د. سعيد الشهابي: لقاء في المطار مع مهندس التعذيب


كان الجو غائما عندما وصلنا المطار صباح يوم الاحد 22 يوليو 2007. المكان مكتظ بالمسافرين الذين قرروا الهرب الى بلدان أقل سحابا ومطرا. مطار هيثرو يواجه أشد أيامه ازدحاما. مسؤولو المطار يقفون على ابوابه لتنظيم دخول المسافرين. طلبوا منا االانتظار في الخيمة الكبيرة خارج المبنى، حتى يحين موعد الدخول. رجل عجوز مع زوجته يجران عربتهما المحملة بحقيبتيهما يمران قريبا مني.


Related Statement by BFM:

Bahrain: silence, corruption and repression


The situation has suddenly flared up again with the news that the founder of the torture regime in the country was heading for Bahrain yesterday. Ian Henderson was seen with his wife at Heathrow airport on his way back after two weeks in London. The news of his return was received by his victims with indignation and disgust.

For several years the metropolitan police have been preparing a dossier of his era as the founder of the security service in Bahrain, with the purported intention of bringing a criminal case against him. Many of his victims had been interviewed in the process, but no action has yet been taken. Human rights organisations who undertook to prepare the case had hoped that their efforts would be rewarded with serious steps from the police.

The news that he was heading back to Bahrain was greeted with frustration and disappointment by members of these organisations.Meanwhile the news of his return provoked painful memories amongst his victims who decided to stage a peaceful protest at Bahrain International airport. The news of the protest quickly spread.

The security service soon mobilised larges numbers of riot police and death squads, cordoned off the airport and arrested three journalists. A state of emergency was declared in the vicinity of the airport and when the protesters headed to the airport they were prevented from entering the area. Death squads used harsh tactics to deter protesters and cars were thoroughly searched, supported by armoured vehicles and heavy machinery and arms. Mr Henderson who was in charge of the secret service (1966-2000) implemented harsh regime of torture against political activists. He had gained notoriety from his earlier role in Kenya fighting against the Mau Mau.At another level, death squads were deployed to suppress a peaceful act by the citizens of Al Malikiya village in the South West of Bahrain.

The people had gathered to protest the erection of fish traps along the coast by the cousin of the ruler. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Khalifa had defied the law and occupied the coast by force, preventing the people from access to the sea. The village was besieged by the death squads who showered the protesters with chemical tear gas and rubber bullets. The situation has continued for the past three weeks despite appeals by the locals to end the siege from the sea.

The people are planning more protests in the next few days. To them access to the sea is a matter of life or death. More than one hundred poor families depend on fishery for their livelihood. At the same time the people are planning a demonstration to express their discontent at the insistence by the ruling family to impose the one percent unemployment tax that had been rejected by most citizens. The planned demonstration on Friday is likely to lead to more repression by the death squads. In protest against the widespread corruption within the Gulf Air Board of Directors, the Chief Executive resigned few days ago. During a routine investigation by the CE the extent of corruption was found to be beyond comprehension with senior figures, including officials from the Ministry of Commerce. The corruption scandal is linked to the Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the crown prince who had played a dirty game to cleanse the company from other partners and recruit corrupt non-Bahraini elements who would facilitate his designs.On another hand, the labour movement is still struggling to gain recognition as a main player in the labour market and play a role in defending the rights of the workers.

A prominent union activist within the Postal service syndicate has been subjected to internal disciplinary action for speaking out against privatisation of the postal service. In a similar manner, another committee within the ministry of health have persecuted the President of the Bahrain Medical Society for speaking out against the drain of medical consultants. Silence has become the order of the day in the Kingdom of Silence.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

23rd July 2007



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