by Stephen Lendman
It's official state policy. King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's one of the region's most ruthless tyrants. Washington supports his worst crimes.
They persist. On July 29, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) headlined "Escalation of the Crackdown against Freedom of Expression and Assembly in the Recommendations of the National Assembly Special Session."
"The National Assembly: a Tool of Repression Used by the Government of Bahrain Against Citizens."
Freedom in Bahrain is verboten. It's prohibited. US First Amendment rights are banned. It states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Bahrain prohibits the most fundamental of all rights. Without them all others are at risk.
Believers are ruthlessly targeted. They're beaten, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. Thousands languish in Bahrain's gulag.
They include doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. Anyone providing aid, comfort, or medical treatment is criminalized.
BCHR condemns what's ongoing. It supports "the right of the opposition and individuals to express their opinion and to claim their right to self-determination."
It's against National Assembly members activating repressive laws. They violate basic citizen rights.
On July 28, House of Representatives president Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Dhahrani convened a special session. King Hamed permitted it. National Assembly (NA) members supported it.
Toughening Law No. 58 punishments were discussed. It pertains to protecting Bahrain from terrorist acts.
According to attorney Abdulla Al-Shamlawi, NA procedures weren't followed.
"The constitutional provision which authorized the call for a session talked about the role of each of the Shoura (Higher) Council and Representatives separately, and there is no constitutional provision which authorizes the invitation for the National Assembly with its two chambers," he said.
Bahrain's parliament has 40 seats. It has no legislative or monitoring authority. The Higher Council has another 40 seats. Unelected King Hamed appointees fill them.
The special session was pro forma. It was rubber-stamp. It made several recommendations. A prepared statement announced them. They follow King Hamed's July 25 Royal Order 33. They mandate:
"1. Issuance of Decree Laws during parliament's summer recess in order to toughen penalties in the terrorism law and, if necessary, to implement such recommendations, in order to face any event requiring expediting the adoption of measures that brook no delay, and need swift actions to protect national security and stability, in line with Article 38 of the Kingdom's Constitution.
2. Revoking the citizenship of those who carry out terrorist crimes and their instigators.
3. Inflicting tough penalties on those who incite all forms of violence and terrorism.
4. Inflicting severe punishment on all kinds and forms of violence and terror crimes.
5. Drying up all sources of terrorist financing.
6. Banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital Manama.
7. Taking all necessary measures, including the declaration of the State of National Safety, to impose civic security and peace whenever law is violated, the security of the citizens is compromised and private and public property is under threat.
8. Taking legal actions against some political associations which incite and support acts of violence and terrorism.
9. Amending Law 58 of 2006 with respect to protection of the community of against terrorist acts so as to inflict punishment on those who instigate and support terrorism.
10. Granting the security bodies all required and appropriate powers to protect society from terror incidents and prevent spreading them.
11. Requesting Ambassadors to Bahrain not to interfere in the kingdom's domestic affairs, in line with International Law and regulations.
12. Toughening penalties on those who involve children and exploit them in acts of terrorism and vandalism of private or public facilities.
13. Total commitment to applying all punitive laws related to combating violence and terrorism.
14. Adherence to a balanced moderate discourse in order to preserve the social fabric of the Bahraini society.
15. Direct relevant state bodies to activate the necessary legal action against those who use social networks in an illegal way, and toughening penalties against those who use those networks to disseminate false information to foreign sides which plot against the country's security and stability.
16. Basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should be affected so as to strike a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection.
17. Examination of the educational policies of the kingdom and review and change educational curricular in a way that protects society from violence and terrorist actions and improves the behavior of students.
18. Using the media to shed light on the dangers of terrorism and its negative impacts on national stability and economy.
19. Backing the loyal efforts of HM the King to encourage national dialogue and push it forward, as serious national dialogue is the best means to resolve all issues and maintain national cohesion.
20. Those involved in terrorist acts shall not be covered by Royal pardon on crimes.
21. Devising an integrated national security strategy in order to be able to face all developments and supporting the efforts of those in charge of it and ensuring their protection.
22. Launching programmes to rehabilitate youths who were exploited in various crimes."
Recommendations effectively mandate repression. They prohibit freely expressing opinions, peaceful assemblies, marches, sit-ins and protests against lawless state practices.
Doing so violates Articles 18, 19, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They state:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
"Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Social media activists are targeted. Anyone insulting the king is vulnerable. So are Bahrainis exposing government wrongdoing.
According to BCHR, assembly members "waived (their) role in legislation giving the executive authorities the right to pass any decrees and laws to toughen punishments under the internationally criticized terrorism law, to implement the made recommendations, and other procedures for the maintenance of security which alerts that more repressive laws will be passed."
King Hamed's mandates are law. He urged swift implementation. So did Bahrain's crown prince and prime minister. It's government is rubber-stamp. Democracy's a four-letter word. It's verboten. It's officially outlawed.
Legislators ignored fundamental regime abuses. They've been internationally criticized. According to UN experts:
Bahrain's "Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts" flies in the face of justice. It denies due process and judicial fairness. It lets courts lawlessly impose capital punishment.
Terrorism's definition is overly broad. Designated acts don't cause injury or death. Others target fundamental rights.
They include free expression, assembly, and peaceful demonstrations. They're internationally recognized rights.
Political activists are targeted. State repression is policy. Collective punishment targets Bahrain's majority Shia population.
Brute force is systematically used. Torture extracts confessions. Legitimate courts don't allow them. King Hamed's word is law. What he says goes.
He's one of the region's worst despots. Washington provides material support. His most reprehensible crimes are ignored.
He lacks legitimacy. So does Bahrain's government. According to acting BCHR President Mariam Al-Khawaja:
"At a time when the authorities continuously talk about empty promises of reform, the human rights situation continues to deteriorate."
"Today's special session was not about introducing new punishments; these measures have been put in practice previously."
"It was about presenting these measures under a new title and face. The authorities have been attempting to create fear since the announcement of planned protests on August 14th under the Tamarod campaign; and this appears to be a part of it."
"The further deterioration to the human rights situation is directly linked to the international impunity the Bahraini authorities enjoy; and the lack of real pressure from their allies, namely the United States and the United Kingdom, to put an end to the ongoing widespread violations."
BCHR calls for:
"An immediate end to the targeting of the opposition and restriction of peaceful political activities."
"The immediate cancellation of the recommendations of the special session of the Assembly, an end to the ongoing human rights violations, and the initiation of real reforms."
"An end to the culture of impunity practiced at the highest levels of government, and accountability for those who have committed, ordered, or allowed human rights violations to occur; especially those in high positions."
"To revoke the Terrorism Law, drop all trumped up charges against those tried under this law."
"An immediate end to the political trials under the Terrorism Law which do not constitute the basic conditions of a fair trial because of the conflict in the terrorism laws and penalties with international standards of a fair trial, and the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain."
"Reparations and compensation for all victims of torture; as well as rehabilitation."
"Accountability for those who incite sectarianism and violence against certain sects, including members of the ruling family."
Bahrain's a case study in tyranny. State terror's official policy. Defenders of right over wrong are criminalized. Dozens are murdered in cold blood.
Nothing suggests change. King Hamed's a close US ally. Bahain's home to America's Fifth Fleet. Rogue states replicate each other's worst practices. Unrestrained brutality defines them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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