By New Worker correspondent
Human rights campaigners and Bahraini exiles held a picket in London last week to call for democratic rights in the oil-rich Arab kingdom that is Anglo-American imperialism’s close ally in the Gulf. The demonstrators brought their message home to the Bahraini ambassador, who was the guest speaker at a lunch hosted by the Middle East Association, a British business lobby based in central London, by picketing the venue and demanding the release of all political prisoners and an end to the use of torture by the police.
During the first session of the trial of 25 Bahraini dissidents last October, all the defendants, except one, complained of various kinds of physical torture. The accused are charged with sedition, anti-regime activities and smearing its reputation abroad. They say they had been held in underground dungeons of the National Security Apparatus (NSA) – the Bahraini government’s agency that controls the Special Security Forces and whose major role, since its establishment in 2002, has been to target human rights activists, political opponents of the monarchy and to infiltrate their organisations.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) claims that the NSA was directly responsible for the death of an activist, Ali Jassim Mohammed, in December 2007, as well as suppressing seminars, demonstrations and other protest activities.
The BCHR says the NSA is responsible for the arrest and torture of hundreds of human rights defenders and activists; the fabrication or exaggeration of terror events or plans to justify intensive security measures, running media campaigns to smear the reputation of activists and to justify arrests, unfair trials and extreme sentences against activists considered opponents of the royal family.