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Repression in Israel and Bahrain

by Stephen Lendman Friday, Aug. 12, 2011 at 9:44 PM

police state

Repression in Israel and Bahrain - by Stephen Lendman

On August 8, London Guardian writer Ian Black headlined, "Bahrain protests: 'The repression is getting worse,' " saying:

Bahraini police grabbed Hassan Ali Salman. One "forc(ed) his T-shirt roughly up over his head as three or four others laid in with wooden batons, dragging and pushing him to a line of waiting Land Cruisers and more helmeted cops."

He's one of many victims in an " routine of protest and repression in this Gulf island state." Secretly filmed, "it exposes what Bahrain's western-backed government prefers foreigners not to see."

Numerous other examples highlight it, including Zainab al-Juma, a disabled woman killed by inhaling tear gas, Ahmed Farhan, shot in cold blood, "his brains spilling out of his shattered head live on camera as horrified screams sounded all around."

Former political prisoner Abu Ali said, "(T)he repression is getting worse." A man called Haydar "described a savage beating, curses and threats of rape as he was forced to kiss the boots of the police officers who tormented him on 26 June."

They kept kicking and hitting me, he said. Conditions throughout the country are tense. Continuing protests against the Bahraini dictatorship face severe violence and repression. A taxi driver named Jassim said, "I am very pessimistic. Things are much worse than before."

An identified woman said, "We sank very low. If we go any further, people will start to leave. We are tearing ourselves apart." People believe that repression without reform won't resolve Bahraini injustice.

It's indeed severe when an establishment publication like the Guardian highlights it through firsthand observations on the ground.

So does the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, saying over 1,400 have been arrested (including doctors, lawyers and human rights activists), more than 180 sentenced by military courts, 35 killed, 68 journalists either suspended or arrested, and around two dozen activists arrested, tortured and subjected to other abuses, along with many others for wanting democratic change.

Law Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni chairs a Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). In a letter to Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain Center for Human Rights President, he said:

"There is no doubt that there have been a large number of reported human rights violations which include: deaths, torture and physical mistreatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, wrongful dismissal of public and private sector employees, suspension of students and termination of scholarships, destruction of mosques, and destruction of private property."

Bassiouni added that once BICI completes its investigation, a full report will follow, covering all documented state crimes. "We are here for the truth and nothing but the truth," he said. Let's hope he, in fact, presents it fully and accurately as promised.

Israeli Torture, Other Forms of Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment Against Gazans

On July 28, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) documented it in their latest report on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26).

Covering the period May 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010, they presented a disturbing account of how Israel systematically violates international law with impunity.

Gazans continue to be arrested, tortured, abused, and denied protections while undergoing interrogations. Afterwards they're "placed in cells which are unfit for humans to live in and many have been left in solitary confinement for extended periods of time."

Administrative detentions are commonly used, holding Palestinians without charge. At the same time, many Gazans are called "unlawful combatants," treating them more harshly for prolonged periods. In addition, under siege conditions, millions of Gazans experience extreme hardships.

"These actions are in complete violation of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL), both of which are applicable in the occupied Palestinian territory."

On September 6, 1999, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled certain abusive interrogation techniques illegal. However, it authorized "ticking bomb" exceptions and let interrogators resort to what's called "the necessity defense" to protect themselves when using prohibited methods.

In other words, the High Court left a giant loophole to practice torture with impunity. Israeli Security Agency (ISA) interrogators take full advantage.

Israel's judicial system also permits unfair trial standards, "under which most torture and ill treatment-related practices occur," including those related to abusive administrative detentions.

As a result, administrative detainees can't challenge evidence considered classified, so are denied fair trials. Nor may they contest detentions for "inordinately lengthy periods" or be able to dispute reasons why they're held.

Under the Unlawful Combatants Law No. 5762-2202 and its 2008 amendment, authorities may detain Palestinians believed to have taken part in hostile activity (aka lawful self-defense) against Israel directly or indirectly.

Without judicial review, men, women and children may be help up to 14 days under detention orders permitting indefinite renewals. In addition, they and their lawyers are denied access to alleged incriminating evidence.

Moreover, access to counsel may be denied up to 21 days, and dozens of Palestinians are held abusively in solitary confinement for extended periods.

Nadedh Ali Abed-Rabbo's case is commonplace. Arrested during an Israeli incursion, he was tortured and abused "from the moment he was in custody." Soldiers handcuffed, blindfolded, and beat him. He was put in a small cell cuffed and blindfolded for 24 hours, then transferred to Ashkelon prison, put in a tiny filthy (1.5 x 2 meter) cell.

During 42 days of interrogation, he was painfully restrained, denied access to counsel, and only allowed to sleep an hour or two at a time while bound to a chair. If too long, he was doused with cold water to wake him. He also experienced severe pain and constant headaches.

Complaining to interrogators, he was told "confess and you will rest." Due to extreme exhaustion, he passed out four times. In addition, interrogators cursed and spat in his face, splashed water on him to keep him awake, and played very loud music intermittently. The interrogation room was also kept dark and isolated.

As a result, he was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment based on "evidence" extracted under torture. When released on July 21, 2010, he experienced nerve spasms in his hand, lost hearing in his left ear, needs and ear implant, and suffers from ongoing headaches.

Numerous other Palestinians undergo similar abuse, amounting to torture and ill-treatment, taking a terrible physical and emotional toll as on Abed-Rabbo.

Gazans are especially mistreated in detention and under siege, including often denied access to medical treatment elsewhere, even for serious illnesses.

Despite international law prohibitions against torture and other forms of abuse and ill-treatment, Israel practices it with impunity. Moreover, isolating Gaza under siege constitutes illegal torture and collective punishment. In fact, the Convention against Torture (CAT) calls "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental," forms of torture.

Israel's blockade is described as causing a "protracted human dignity crisis," characterized particularly by "degradation in the living conditions of the population." As such, it constitutes collective cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, a prima facie CAT violation.

In fact, the independent UN Committee against Torture acknowledges that blockading Gaza falls within CAT's purview because of its collective harm in violation of other human rights laws. Nonetheless, Israel continues abusing Gazans and other Palestinians with impunity.

Palestinians Politically Detained

The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association presented its latest quarterly report, covering the period from April 15 - July 15.

Based on Israeli Prison Service statistics (very possibly inaccurate), it documented 5,554 political prisoners, including:

-- 229 administrative detainees, including four women and 14 Palestinian Legislative Council (the Palestinian Authority's parliament) members;

-- 35 women;

-- 211 children, including dozens under age 16;

-- 19 PLC members;

-- 136 prisoners for over 20 years;

-- 178 Palestinians from the 1948 territories;

-- 647 from Gaza, including two current "unlawful combatants;"

-- 188 from East Jerusalem; and

-- 845 arrested from April 1 - June 30.

During the period, it noted "harsh violence and waves of mass arrests," including against Hamas leaders. On April 17, to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners Day, Addameer launched a new campaign called "Prisoners at Risk," focusing on those subjected to "serious human rights violations, including long-term administrative detention, isolation, medical neglect and torture."

Many Palestinians experience it, out of sight and mind to most world leaders, supporting Israeli lawlessness by complicity or silence. As a result, abusive practices continue in violation of international laws, norms and standards, ones Israel repeatedly spurns with impunity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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