Daily Archives: July 14, 2017

US Must Maintain Restrictions, Push for Reforms Following Bahrain Interior Minister Visit

14 July 2017 – Bahrain’s Minister of Interior, Lt. General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, visited Washington, DC this week to discuss security cooperation with a number of American officials, including the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense. While we encourage bilateral talks between American policymakers and the Government of Bahrain, and we acknowledge the importance of strategic cooperation on mutual security objectives, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) is directly responsible for the kingdom’s increasingly violent campaign against pro-democracy activism and is deeply implicated in severe human rights violations. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) is very concerned by US commitments to deepen security ties with the MOI and strongly condemns the Ministry’s ongoing and intensifying abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing. We additionally call on the US Government to publicly condemn these violations and suspend any further security cooperation with the MOI until it has moved to implement substantive reforms.

According to the MOI, Lt. General Sheikh Rashid traveled to Washington to meet Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe, among other unnamed “security officials in the US administration.” The Minister of Interior also met with several legislators, including House Speaker Representative Paul Ryan, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Representative Ed Royce, and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain. Lt. General Sheikh Rashid reportedly discussed ways to “modernize” and “reinforce” bilateral security cooperation on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and transnational organized crime, as well as arms sales the threat posed by Iran. Particularly, he emphasized the continued importance of the US Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, and the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MOI and the Department of Homeland Security.

However, despite the Minister’s visit, the US security partnership with the MOI has long been strained by its record of severe human rights violations, which has only worsened in recent months. In the aftermath of the Bahraini government’s bloody suppression of the 2011 pro-democracy movement – led by Lt. General Sheikh Rashid and the MOI – the US imposed a de factohold on security assistance to the Ministry over concerns that it would continue to target peaceful protesters and activists. The policy intended to both prevent US complicity in repressive measures and to encourage positive security sector reform. Yet, in the six years since, the MOI has entirely abandoned any commitment to reform.

Just this year, the police have taken several unprecedented moves away from its stated promise to reform. In January 2017, the authorities ended a de facto moratorium on capital punishment by executing three men tortured into providing false confessions, representing the first execution of Bahrainis since the 1990s. Later, in April, the government amended the constitution to allow military courts to try civilians in alleged terrorism cases, empowering the MOI and the Public Prosecution to refer detainees held under the kingdom’s broad anti-terror legislation to national security tribunals notorious for secrecy and due process violations. On May 23, 2017, just days after President Donald Trump met with Bahrain’s king in Riyadh, MOI personnel violently raided a peaceful demonstration in the village of Diraz, killing five and injuring hundreds. Among the dead was Mohamed Khadim Muhsin Zain Aldeen, a respected environmental activist, and Mohamed Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Hamdan, whose younger brother was shot and killed in an earlier raid on Diraz launched by unknown security forces in January 2017.

The MOI has also worked in tandem with the National Security Agency (NSA), Bahrain’s primary intelligence service, to undertake an intensified campaign of reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society activists. In the past two months alone, the authorities have twice detained and tortured woman human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh; forcibly disappeared activist Mohamed Khalil al-Shakhoori; and repeatedly summoned and tortured Mohamed Hasan Ali Mohamed Juma Sultan, the son of a former opposition parliamentarian. Security personnel explicitly told al-Saegh that they were targeting her in retaliation for her human rights work, and they attempted to force Sultan into informing on his father and other political figures.

It is additionally under Lt. General Sheikh Rashid’s authority that Bahrain has incarcerated nearly 4,000 political prisoners, giving the kingdom the highest per capita prison population in the Middle East. Just this past Monday, July 10, the government sentenced the country’s most prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, to two years in prison for providing interviews to media outlets. The decision explicitly contravenes the wishes of the US State Department, which has continually called for his release since his June 2016 arrest. Rajab faces another 15 years in prison in a separate trial concerning comments he made on social media.

Similarly, the MOI has used its enhanced authority under the expanded citizenship and anti-terror legislation to unilaterally denaturalize peaceful activists, journalists, religious leaders, and politicians along with violent extremists. Between court rulings and the Ministry’s un-appealable denaturalization orders, the Bahraini government has stripped more than 400 individuals of their citizenship, rendering many stateless before they are forcibly deported from the country. As many as a 103 people have already been denaturalized this year.

Though the MOI has attempted to position itself as a key counterterror partner for the US, there is also growing evidence that Bahrain’s police force is actually contributing to sectarian militancy and extremism. As noted by both the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)  and the US Government, Bahrain’s Shia Muslim majority is virtually excluded from the security services and it is “urgent” that the authorities make them more “reflective of society.” In 2011, Defense Secretary Mattis, then CENTCOM commander, reportedly voiced the same concern to the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) chief of staff, offering lessons learned from the American military’s own history of racial integration. Nevertheless, the BDF, MOI, NSA, and Bahrain’s other security services remain closed to recruits from the Shia community – it is estimated that Shia constitute 2-5 percent of all security personnel, compared with the country’s Shia population of between 58-70 percent.

Sectarian prejudice in Bahrain’s security institutions threatens to undermine the country’s long-term stability, and there is evidence that Bahraini officials have directly propagated anti-Shia and other extremist views within the security forces. The military published a religious pamphlet that denounces several non-Sunni sects of Islam as heretical, including Shiism, for example, providing purported justifications for violence. Hundreds of Bahrainis have left the country to join extremist groups like ISIS, including high-ranking MOI officials. MOI officers have appeared in ISIS propaganda films and have been formally designated as terrorists by the State Department.

“The Ministry of Interior is not a strong security partner for the US – it’s a liability,” said Husain Abdulla, ADHRB’s Executive Director. “Bahrain’s police have used anti-terror and anti-cybercrime measures to justify an all-out assault on basic rights and peaceful civil society in the country, and yet these are the areas where the US wants to deepen cooperation? The US must make it abundantly clear that further security assistance – let alone lifting the arms embargo – is contingent on significant reform. Otherwise it risks serious complicity in the MOI’s violent campaign of repression.”

Six years ago, the US Government limited cooperation with the MOI over extensive evidence of severe human rights abuses. Though the current administration has reversed course on arms holds to the Bahraini military, the US has continued to restrict weapons sales to the MOI over the persistence of these same concerns. Now, uncritically expanding the US partnership with the Ministry will not further US interests – on the contrary, to ensure long-term stability and to combat extremism in the region, the US will be best served by conditioning any support for the Bahraini security forces on substantive improvements in the human rights situation. ADHRB calls on the US Government to publicly condemn the MOI’s intensified human rights violations and to suspend further cooperation with the Ministry until such time as it implements true reforms.


EXPO 2017 ASTANA: Foton Motor Escorts for China Pavilion Day

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, July 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The official ceremony of Expo 2017 Astana China Pavilion Day was hosted on 5 July 2017.

As a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world, Foton Motor was designated as the sole vehicle supplier of China Pavilion at Expo 2017 Astana. With previous experience serving international conferences, Foton Motor sent three major product brands to support transport work for China Pavilion.

FOTON TOANO is incorporated into the "leading cadres' motorcade" to escort for China Pavilion Day

FOTON TOANO, which escorted Vladimir Putin and other dignitaries of countries at the 70th anniversary of the V-day in 2015, became the only state guest vehicle to meet European standards. At the Expo, FOTON TOANO was incorporated into the ‘leading cadres’ motorcade’ to ensure the travel of officials and honored guests of China Pavilion.

FOTON AUV bus at China Pavilion was responsible for providing round trip airport transfer operations for leaders and other delegations who come from more than 30 provinces and cities. FOTON AUV bus was designated to ensure the green and safe travel at the Expo with the strictest service standards.

FOTON AUV bus is responsible for round trip airport transfer operation for honored guests of China Pavilion at Nazarbayev Airport in Astana

During the Expo, there were activities for provinces and cities every two days. Foton Sauvana provided a comfortable driving experience to working personnel of China Pavilion and comfortable travel service to delegations attending the activities.

Foton Motor set up many assurance services, including appointing service stations, vehicle and accessory preparation and PDI to guarantee all vehicles working without malfunction for Expo 2017 Astana. Foton Motor maintained a team of professional service technicians on-site 24 hours a day, providing training for working staff in China Pavilion.

FOTON SAUVANA working for China Pavilion at midnight

As the sole designated vehicles of China Pavilion in Expo 2017 Astana, TOANO, AUV, SAUVANA not only blended seamlessly with the “future energy” theme of Expo, but also showed Foton Motor, as a new benchmark for intelligent manufacturing in China; displaying Chinese innovative power with scientific and technological innovations.

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Bahrain strongly condemns Israel’s Al-Aqsa Friday prayers ban

Manama: Bahrain has strongly condemned Israel’s ban on Friday prayers at the Holy Site, stressing that the move completely contradicts the freedom to practise religious rites in Al-Aqsa Mosque, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the feelings of Muslims around the world.

This is a part of the Israeli attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, a statement by the Foreign Ministry said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its concern about the violence that took place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque today. It stresses the necessity of immediately opening Al-Aqsa Mosque to its worshipers and the need to display maximum degree of restraint for all sides, as well as adherence to international treaties, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs addresses the international community’s responsibility to eliminate all violations and counter all attempts to change the legal and historical situation in Jerusalem.”

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Kuwait condemns “terrorist attack” in Egypt

Kuwait: An official source at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry today strongly condemned the “terrorist attack” that targeted a security checkpoint in the city of El Badrashin, Giza Governorate, killing five policemen.

According to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the source reiterated Kuwait’s support to the “brothers in Egypt” and all the measures Cairo might take to protect the country’s security and stability.

The same source reaffirmed Kuwait’s initial, and unwavering stance, that rejects violence and all forms of terrorism, and offered condolences to the Egyptian leadership, government and people as well as to the victims’ families, praying for everlasting security and stability in the country, KUNA reported.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

GCC countries exerted great efforts to dissuade Qatar from practicing hostiles against its neighbors, but in vain, Saudi ambassador to Spain says in an interview with Almondo newspaper

Madrid, Shawwal 19, 1438 — Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Saudi ambassador to Spain, said that the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar together with seven more countries who either cut or withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar was a result of Qatar’s continuing policies of financing terrorism, providing harbor for terrorist leaders, and practicing hostile policies against its neighbors.

In an interview with Almondo Spanish newspaper, the ambassador said the decision was not surprising as the GCC countries have exerted strenuous efforts over the past years to dissuade Qatar from continuing its policies of financing terror organizations, hostile polices against its neighbors, and harboring the leaders of militant and zealot organizations but in vain. So, it is obvious that all countries who cut their ties with Qatar are right and Qatar is solely standing wrong, he said.

He went on to say that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha when Qatar was not complying with their appeal. Later, Qatar changed its mind and expressed readiness to meet the demands of the three countries. In 2013 the Emir of Qatar himself signed Riyadh declaration and the 2014 complementary arrangement. But later, it appeared that Qatar is again not living up to its commitment.

He said the recent demands presented to Qatar were not impossible as they were described by Doha, he said, adding that most of them were part of a comprehensive arrangement signed by Qatar. Moreover, most of the names on the terror wanted list which was endorsed by the four countries are on the U.S. and European terror wanted list. But Qatar was not complying.

During the Arab, Islamic American conference, held recently in Riyadh, which gathered U.S. Donald Trump and leaders of 55 Islamic countries, it was agreed that we should firmly face terrorism and bar its financing and patronizing. However, Qatar, who was present in the conference, was the only who renegaded its outcome.

Just convening the conference is yet another proof that we adopted diplomacy and dialogue to solve the difference in an amicable way based on the current ties with the sisterly people of Qatar who are an integral part of the GCC and Arab societies.

Source: Saudi Press Agency