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Negative assessment of Saudi economy; bleak outlook for Alkhalifa HRs

Alwihda Info | Par Bahrain Freedom Movement - 15 Avril 2016

Yesterday Fitch Ratings cut Saudi Arabia�s credit rating, another sign of how low oil prices are taking their toll on the kingdom�s finances. Fitch reduced Saudi Arabia�s long-term foreign and local currency ratings to AA-minus from AA while retaining a negative outlook. The ratings agency predicts oil prices for 2016 and 2017 to be at $35 and $45 a barrel, a level that would have �major negative implications for Saudi Arabia�s fiscal and external balances.� Other rating agencies like Moody�s and Standard and Poor had given similar assessments in recent months. In another development, the most senior religious leader in the Eastern Province, Sheikh Hussain Al Radhi, who was detained last month for expressing different views from those of the ruling tribe of AlSaud, has been struck with heart ailment. His condition is not known but there is increasing concern for his life. Freedom-lovers have called for his immediate and unconditional release as they consider him �Prisoner of Conscience�.

On 8th April Dr Saeed Al Samahiji, 62, was sentenced to one year in jail for tweeting. He is a senior Eye Specialist and had been detained several times since 2011 for treating injured people injured by regime�s forces. He spent much time in torture dungeons. He was arrested on 4th January after he had tweeted remarks against the execution of Martyr Nimr Al Nimr. He was charged with �insulting friendly country�.
From April 4th to April 10th, there were a total of 53 marches in 28 towns and villages. Ten marches were attacked by the riot police using excessive chemical and tear gases, as well as shot guns. In the first three months of this year, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights recorded at least 448 cases of arbitrary detention including 95 children under 18. On 10th April 15 years old Basil Abbas was arrested. He was first taken to Roundabout 17 police station at Hamad Town where he was severely tortured. He was then taken to the notorious CID headquarters where torture use is routine. He was released after six hours. He could not sit properly from the beating. His mother told him to sleep. But the CID officers called again and summoned Basil. He was taken back and was detained.

The American policy on Bahrain has come under fire by activists and human rights bodies worldwide, following John Kerry�s visit to the country. His remarks have infuriated the Bahrainis who viewed his visit as active moral support to a faltering regime riddled with accusations of committing crimes against humanity including torture. International human rights groups have criticized the Bahraini government since a security clampdown on protesters demanding reforms and a greater voice in the governing of the kingdom, which is led by tribal rulers. Human Rights Watch says there has been little meaningful progress in reforms since then, and it accused the government of pressuring the opposition by detaining activists. Ahead of the trip, Kerry found himself under fire from human rights groups, who called for a tougher U.S. stance on the government's violent suppression of dissent. They cited the cases of several bloggers and political opposition leaders serving jail terms or awaiting sentences.

Despite Alkhalifa foreign minister�s promise to John Kerry to release Zainab AlKHawaja and her infant son, she is still languishing in their torture chambers. 37 NGOs have called for her unconditional release. In an open statement to Bahrain�s dictator, Hamad Alkhalifa they said: �We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn your government�s arrest of human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja along with her infant son.� They called for� their immediate and unconditional release. They added: �The broad criminalization of peaceful dissent and free expression in Bahrain, as well as the government�s continued harassment and detention of human rights defenders, contravenes your obligations under international law, and is wholly unacceptable.�

Jane Kinninmont, deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, published an article titled: �Why won�t the UK Government speak out on human rights abuses� on UK�s policy on human rights. Ms Kinninmont said: It is one thing to use a softer tone in public statements, but at times these statements are actively misleading. A minister may tell parliament a country is moving in the right direction when the diplomats on the ground are privately telling colleagues there are at least two steps back for every step forward. Ms Kinninmont said that British diplomats lobbied the UN Human Rights Council to water down the language in a resolution on Bahrain, deleting the word �torture�. She added: The UK government�s security strategy recognises that rights and values are part of security. To advance them, clearer public statements must be part of the full spectrum of policy tools.

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