Bahrain jails re­porter on ter­ror­ism charges

HRW re­port ‘mis­lead­ing’ Kerry slams Pales­tinian at­tacks, meets Is­rael PM

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

RIYADH: Bahrain this week jailed a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher for 10 years and stripped him of his na­tion­al­ity af­ter con­vict­ing him of ter­ror­ism, the me­dia rights group Re­porters sans Fron­tiers said yes­ter­day. Sayed Ahmed Al-Mou­sawi was ac­cused of giv­ing mo­bile phone SIM cards to demon­stra­tors and tak­ing pho­to­graphs of antigov­ern­ment protests, RSF re­ported. A re­port on Bahrain News Agency late on Mon­day quoted Pros­e­cu­tion Ad­vo­cate Gen­eral Ahmed AlHam­madi as say­ing the High Court had sen­tenced three de­fen­dants to 15 years in prison and three to 10 years for set­ting up and join­ing a ter­ror­ist cell. None of those sen­tenced were named and it was not clear if Mou­sawi was among them.

It quoted him as say­ing they had trained to make ex­plo­sives, con­ducted il­le­gal ral­lies, pos­sessed petrol bombs, com­mit­ted forgery for the pur­pose of ter­ror­ism and at­tempted mur­der in 2013 and 2014. The is­land king­dom, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, has ex­pe­ri­enced spo­radic un­rest since mass protests in 2011 led by ma­jor­ity Shi­ites de­mand­ing re­forms and a big­ger role in gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment de­nies op­po­si­tion charges it dis­crim­i­nates against Shi­ites and says the op­po­si­tion has a sec­tar­ian agenda and is backed by Shi­ite power Iran, a charge Tehran and Shi­ite groups deny. In a sep­a­rate case re­viewed by the same court, a judge sen­tenced 16 de­fen­dants to 15 years in prison and three oth­ers to 10 years, BNA quoted Ham­madi as say­ing. On Nov 16, Bahrain jailed 12 peo­ple and re­voked their cit­i­zen­ship for car­ry­ing out bomb at­tacks on po­lice JERUSALEM: US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry ex­pressed strong sup­port for Is­rael and con­demned a wave of Pales­tinian at­tacks yes­ter­day as he met Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu to try to ease weeks of violence. Ar­riv­ing with scant hopes for a ma­jor break­through, Kerry dis­cussed with Ne­tanyahu ways of calm­ing ten­sions and did the same later in the day with Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas in Ra­mal­lah. “Clearly, no peo­ple any­where should live with daily violence, with at­tacks in the streets, with knives, with scis­sors, cars,” Kerry told re­porters at Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice ahead of talks with the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter.

“And it is very clear to us that ter­ror­ism, th­ese acts of ter­ror­ism, de­serve the con­dem­na­tion that they are re­ceiv­ing and to­day I ex­press my com­plete con­dem­na­tion for any act of terror that takes in­no­cent lives.” Kerry also men­tioned Amer­i­can vic­tims of the at­tacks, with at least three US cit­i­zens - two with dual cit­i­zen­ship and one from Kerry’s home state of Mas­sachusetts - killed in the wave of violence that be­gan on Oct 1.

He how­ever made no men­tion of re­solv­ing the larger Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict in his re­marks be­fore the meet­ing amid US pes­simism over whether sig­nif­i­cant ne­go­ti­a­tions can take place be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama leaves of­fice in lit­tle over a year. Af­ter the talks with Ne­tanyahu ended, Kerry spokesman John Kirby said that the two dis­cussed Syria and the Is­lamic State group as well as “steps that can be taken to stop the violence in Is­rael, Jerusalem and the West Bank”.

The lack of specifics, at least pub­licly, re­gard­ing the Pales­tini­ans will likely dis­ap­point Ab­bas, with Pales­tinian of­fi­cials say­ing in the run up to yes­ter­day’s meet­ing that they were hop­ing Kerry would pres­sure Ne­tanyahu. Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion sec­re­tary-gen­eral Saeb Erekat told AFP in an in­ter­view Mon­day that if noth­ing con­crete comes out of the meet­ings with Kerry, the Pales­tini­ans could move for­ward on chang­ing long­stand­ing links in 2013 and 2014, it said.

Separately, Bahrain crit­i­cized as mis­lead­ing a Hu­man Rights Watch re­port ac­cus­ing the king­dom’s au­thor­i­ties of tor­tur­ing de­tainees dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion and grant­ing se­cu­rity of­fi­cials im­punity. The re­port, pub­lished Mon­day, is “mis­lead­ing, un­bal­anced and con­tro­ver­sial,” said In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Isa Al-Ham­madi in re­marks on BNA. It is “based on false in­for­ma­tion.” Bahrain has es­tab­lished “in­de­pen­dent na­tional watch­dogs to probe any al­leged il­le­gal prac­tices in­volv­ing de­tainees, in­mates or oth­ers,” said Ham­madi, adding that such ac­tion is taken “se­ri­ously” by the king­dom.

“We have a clear pol­icy of co­op­er­a­tion with in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions which are will­ing to do so,” he said, adding that “Bahrain is no need for politi­cized watch­dogs which work through an agenda,” ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to HRW. New York­based HRW has said reg­u­la­tory bod­ies set up af­ter the 2011 to end tor­ture in in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties “lack in­de­pen­dence”.

HRW spoke of cases of phys­i­cal tor­ture amid a “com­plete lack of ac­count­abil­ity for the abuse of de­tainees”. It said it in­ter­viewed 10 de­tainees “who said they en­dured co­er­cive in­ter­ro­ga­tions” by au­thor­i­ties. In an­other state­ment on BNA, the gov­ern­ment said it was “re­view­ing” the con­tent of HRW’s re­port, “in­clud­ing a se­ries of anony­mous al­le­ga­tions it con­tains, and rec­om­men­da­tions.” It urged HRW to pro­vide the three in­sti­tu­tions, con­trolled by the in­te­rior min­istry and pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor, “with suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to en­able them to con­duct ef­fec­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions.” — Agen­cies with Is­rael, in­clud­ing se­cu­rity co­or­di­na­tion.The violence has left 92 Pales­tini­ans dead, in­clud­ing one Arab Is­raeli, as well as 17 Is­raelis -in­clud­ing the two Is­raeli-Amer­i­cans - one Amer­i­can and an Eritrean. Many of the Pales­tini­ans killed have been al­leged at­tack­ers, while oth­ers were shot dur­ing demon­stra­tions and clashes with Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces.

Lone-Wolf At­tacks

The violence con­tin­ued as Kerry ar­rived yes­ter­day, when a Pales­tinian rammed a ve­hi­cle into Is­raeli troops at a junc­tion south of Nablus in the oc­cu­pied West Bank, wound­ing four be­fore be­ing shot. The stab­bings, shoot­ings and car ram­mings have mainly been car­ried out by so-called “lone wolf” at­tack­ers who have de­fied Ab­bas’s calls for peace­ful re­sis­tance to Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion. Many of them have been young peo­ple, in­clud­ing teenagers, re­flect­ing anger and lost hope over Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion, the Pales­tini­ans’ frac­tured lead­er­ship and the com­plete lack of progress in peace ef­forts, some an­a­lysts say.

Kerry said he was “here to­day to talk to the prime min­is­ter about ways we can work to­gether, all of us in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, to push back against ter­ror­ism, to push back against sense­less violence”. He said he wanted “to find a way for­ward to re­store calm and to be­gin to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties that most rea­son­able peo­ple in ev­ery part of the world are seek­ing for them­selves and their fam­i­lies.”

Ne­tanyahu has come un­der pres­sure to tighten se­cu­rity and on Mon­day he an­nounced stricter con­trols on Pales­tinian ve­hi­cles and an in­crease in so-called “by­pass roads,” which cre­ate sep­a­rate routes for Pales­tini­ans and Is­raeli set­tlers. Dur­ing a visit on Mon­day to a West Bank set­tle­ment that has been the scene of nu­mer­ous at­tacks, he also said work per­mits would be with­drawn for fam­i­lies of al­leged at­tack­ers and pledged there would be “no lim­its” on the pow­ers of Is­raeli sol­diers in the ter­ri­tory. — AFP

JERUSALEM: Is­rael’s Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu (right) meets US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry dur­ing a meet­ing at the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice yes­ter­day. — AP

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